Everyday, we react. We react to other people’s words. We react to situations and circumstances in life, some that may even be out of our control. Some of our reactions happen as a result of smaller encounters, and others as a result of more significant events in our lives. Some are easy, and some are very difficult. Reactions in themselves, of course, are not a bad thing. In life, we have to react. Reactions can be a good thing. But the question is: How do we react? And how should we react?
Just a few weeks ago, I was traveling back to New Orleans from West Virginia on an early morning flight. Shortly after take off, the pilot speaks over the intercom, letting us know that we needed to land early due to some ice that was still on the plane. Shortly after landing at a different airport, we were all given van rides to the Charlotte, NC airport to catch our delayed flights back home. You can imagine the scene, a bunch of frustrated strangers getting into a van for a two hour ride! The lady next to me was very angry, and made sure that the entire van knew it. Very dramatically, she began to argue with the man up front about nothing important. Very calmly, I did my best to remind her that none of us wanted to be in that van, and we were all ready to be home. We just needed to hang in there, stay calm and patient. After the ride ended, she apologized to the man and we all eventually got home later that evening. It was a LONG, testing and entertaining day.
I was not a happy camper either on that day, and if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit, I don’t know what I would of done, ha! But that experience, as miserable as it was, taught me a few things about the importance of how we react in life. And trust me, there were a lot of opportunities to react that day.
Here are a few things I learned:
- Be humble
For those of us who are Christ followers, we can’t forget that we didn’t save ourselves. Only Jesus did! And we actually aren’t that great. Only Jesus is! As I mentioned earlier, there are some things in life that are literally out of our control. As much as I would have loved to fix the situation that day and get home when I wanted, I simply couldn’t. These things remind me that God is sovereign and all-knowing. We must remember that He’s in control, even in situations that are difficult and discouraging. We must remember who we are before God, and respond in humility, completely depending on Him!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
- Think before we speak
Often times, the first thing we want to say is not the best thing to say! I know that when I’m frustrated and annoyed, I want to react just that way. If we would take just a minute to think about our reactions before we react, I think we would be surprised to see the difference it would make. Slowing down and thinking can do some good!
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
- Don’t underestimate the impact our reactions have on others
Believe it or not, other people are watching us. Every time we react, we have the opportunity to react differently than others. Not to bring attention to ourselves, but to bring glory to God. Every time we react, we have the opportunity to point people to Jesus, as we depend on him in humility, slowing down and allowing Him to lead our reactions. It makes a difference, and people notice. Who knows the impact that could make on others!
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
So, try to keep these three things in mind next time you are faced with an opportunity to react in a negative way. Don’t be too discouraged though, we all make mistakes and slip up. The good news is, there’s always a new opportunity coming up, where we can react well.