Thursday, May 8, 2008

Act or React?

I was listening to a guy talk on a Christian radio show today. I do not know who it was, but I am assuming he was a pastor of some sort. I don't know what show it was because I came in the middle of it and was in car pool and had to end up turning it off. So far I have no credibility here, I know. All I know is that it was on AM radio which I NEVER listen to, but I really feel like I needed to listen to some talk radio on current politics and then I found that guy and got stuck.

ANYWAY, he said something that has me thinking. I have not had much luck on this blog for discussion, but if you are lurking and/or are a regular commenter, I would really be interested in hearing your thoughts.

He said, the mark of a Christian is not how he or she acts, but how they react. That acting can be premeditated. That reacting comes from the heart and if your heart is right with Jesus than your reaction will be pure and good.

After discussing anger last week I was going on and on about how we react to our kids is so important. Looking back, my anger is always a reaction - to lack of time alone, to lack of sleep, to my hubby coming home late for dinner, to Rice Krispies all over the couch while I was on the computer.

So, I here I am in my human body, trying to practice self-control with my anger when it is out of place. But when I react in a negative way, is that a picture of my heart and how close I am to God?

I have an answer in my head and I don't really like it.

Definitely food for thought. Tell me what you think.


dcrmom said...

Ouch. That hurts.

Does that answer your question? :-)

Janel said...

I hope this discussion question doesn't sound condemning in any way.

I really just think my heart is, you know, right with God.

And then I react to the guy at Best Buy with attitude because he is ignoring me.

So, I just wonder for myself. What does that mean? I am human. I LOVE Jesus.

Is my reaction really that telling of the condition of my heart? Or is it just an opps for that day?

Mary Ann said...

hmmmm..good question..but I'm thinking alot of time and effort was concentrated on the words "act" versus "react" when the final deal is the "do" or the action of whatever comes from our lips, the expression from our face, etc. I'm not so sure I completely understand where the speaker was coming from (and you did add a disclaimer :) )so, I'll just leave it that at least we recognize that our actions; whether premeditated or a natural reation can reveal many things about ourselves to others and even to ourselves. Make sense?

Plus, when we have our "oopps" or my "blips on God's radar"..and we are searching and aware of God; then the Holy Spirit convicts us so we can change, grow and sometimes even rectify with apologies that demonstrate the love of Christ as I humble myself before others with my weakness, shortcomings and failures.

Janel said...

yeah, I can see a lot of emphasis put on those words. I guess it woudl have been better to hear the fullness of what he was speaking about.

Although, I have been thinking about my reaction to situations so much that I am not sure I would have heard anything else. Maybe that is what the Holy Spirit is trying to talk to me about. duh.

Maybe just the act of humbling ourselves before those we wrong with a negative reaction says more about our heart.

If I just flew off the handle all the time (negative reaction) and never felt remorse or sought forgiveness - then that makes more sense to me as what the condition of my heart would be.

Great point Mary Ann. Thanks for working through this with me!

dcrmom - it tells me you feel a lot like me! thanks for your input.

Praying4Action said...

Thanks for sharing this, Janel. I agree that "actions" can sometimes be premeditated. For me, it can be easier for me to "act out" my love walk when I have my mind set to do so. We all know how fast life happens and circumstances change. I have to admit that my reactions to those changes are not always what God would have them be.

I don't agree with the speaker when he said, "reaction comes from the heart and if your heart is right with God, then your reaction will be pure and good." My heart is right with God, but I slip up, screw up, and fall down...way more often than I am comfortable with.

Nonetheless, this really got me thinking about how I truly do REACT to people and situations when I am forced to do so on the spot.

Janel said...

Good point, Russ.
Thanks for joining in!

Yeah, what's wrong with premeditating on our actions? If we decide ahead of time what our actions will be in any given situation we will be more likely to do the right thing, right?

Sarah said...

This is an interesting discussion.

"Is my reaction really that telling of the condition of my heart? Or is it just an opps for that day?"

I think it can be both. We have to look at patterns of bad reactions, but we can't beat ourselves up for one weak moment. I think if you notice you're always reacting to your husband a certain way, or yelling at the kids constantly. (I have been stuck in both patterns before) There is obviously an issue that needs attention.

Someone once said that character is what you do when no one's looking. Sometimes I have to ask myself if I would treat my family the same way if my friends were over.

Does that make sense?

Janel said...

Oh Sarah, that is a fabulous point and something I have heard before too.

I do think patterns of reaction is so important. I have found myself in one or two recently and I think this is why this is hitting so close to home.

Thanks for responding!

Rachel said...

I am convicted of this on a daily basis. It's amazing how I can REact to the rest of the world with calmness and rationality, yet when it comes to my children I often REact with anger or irrationality. I think, that it's because I view each of their infractions as a direct result of my failure as a parent in some way.
Wow. Great food for thought, fabulous topic. Especially for Mother's Day.

Janel said...

"I think, that it's because I view each of their infractions as a direct result of my failure as a parent in some way."

Rachel, I can't tell you how many moms have shared this with me and I think it is really important to recognize this as moms. One friend of mine also talked about how if she could not get her child do to something then she felt like she must not be parenting in the right way and this made her feel insecure and angry with herself which she in turn took out on her children.

I think it is such a normal feeling that we don't always come to terms with.

Thank you for recognizing this very important aspect to this topic!

Sarah said...

I think that certain things do "trigger" our reactions, but HOW we react during those times is the key. The things that come out--our words, our looks, our moods--are all coming from a source. And if our reactions are wrong, then they have come from a wrong source.
I think we all know how to ACT and if we have any self control at all, we can guide our actions. And that can seem spiritual! But our REACTIONS are not premeditated, and are not usually self-guided. Therefore, if we are walking in the Spirit and have a right view of God, ourselves, and others, our reactions will most likely come out in a godly fashion.
All this said--I am a horrible reacter, and it is something I deal with daily. I know I am sinning when I react badly--it stems from my lack of daily time with God and my wrong (selfish) view of myself.

Good post! I needed to think and be challenged today!

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