Reaction

<<rash response>>

Generally this is a spontaneous and involuntary physical or verbal reply, often having some measure of hostility directed to the person or thing who reveals a flaw in our character or action. A reaction has been triggered by preceding words or circumstances – it is a re-action, but frequently does not solve the problem. If one party reacts this is a problem, but if both sides react this becomes a conflict.

Much of our behaviour and many life choices are determined by our reaction to events and circumstances we have experienced. Although these trials are beyond our control, we are responsible for our reaction, for this is our choice. Take time out to process your feelings and think through the most God honouring response (which is normally the

Take a deep breath before you react            – consider the likely outcome

opposite to our wounded ego’s spontaneous outburst).  Live by the principles of the Spirit, not those of the flesh. Speak encouragement and genuine praise to those who struggle to manage their reactions. Every rebuke, criticism or accusation should be humbly assessed – as it may be wholly or partly true and so is an area that can be improved on. God allows all the situations we experience, many of which bring to light the evil lurking in our lives that is looking for an outlet; we choose, if we deal with them in a correct way, to outwork His purposes, while wrongly they will become a pattern of behaviour (habits) which will blight our character, so give focused attention to these vulnerable areas of personality (Gen 4:3-7). What am I doing that causes others to react to me? What is your response when others react to you?

As believers, because God is our master, we are not to live reacting to what the devil is doing rather find out what God is doing and join Him. Our priority is to advance the Kingdom of God.

Testing our reactions

1/. Are they exemplary? The more intense a person’s focus and involvement the greater the chance of an adverse reaction if a situation goes wrong.  We need to keep all situations and things in their true perspective. The unsaved will observe our response when events don’t go the way we would like and we are not being ministered to by the circumstances of life. We are responsible for our attitudes, words and actions at all times and as Christians, these should be increasingly coming under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. Our reaction when things go wrong indicates whether we are operating from the flesh or the spiritual realm. Remember all things are working for our good and the overall aim is to make us like Christ – which can only be achieved as the old natural self-life is dealt with (Ps 34:1; Rom 8:28,29; Gal 2:20).

2/. No retaliation? Regardless of what is done to us, this is no excuse to sin in return. If in the flesh we retaliate, reacting in an ungodly way, repent before God of the wrong, then apologize and ask forgiveness of the one reacted against and learn from the experience. Jesus didn’t retaliate when being crucified, but instead forgave His attackers, committing Himself to God who judges rightly, and like Stephen when he was being stoned to death said, “Don’t charge this sin to their account” (Lk 23:34; Act 7:69; 1 Pet 2:23).

3/. Self-controlled? When things don’t go our way, we are stressed, over-tired, or unwell, our emotions are fragile so self-control is required to prevent the old carnal nature from expressing itself in criticism, blame or harshly disciplining those under us while justifying our ungodly behaviour. “Greater is he who rules his spirit than the one who takes a city” (Prov 16:32).  We expend a lot of mental energy in reaction mode – re-running our hurts, frustrations, bitterness, and justifying our position. Rather than spontaneously giving vent to wounded feelings or bottled up emotions which you will most likely regret, ask God to set a watch before your lips (Ps 141:3). If praise is continually on our lips, this will keep our spirit sweet (1 Thes 5:18).

4/. Tolerant? Unless it is a Biblical command or principle at stake (which must be adhered to), be tolerant and overlook the personality quirks of others, and try to see things from their point of view. Be considerate – they may be having a bad day too! Ungodly reactions expose the inner attitudes and are not glorifying to God, besides failing to “do to others as we would like done to us” (Lk 6:31). Analyse your reaction to various events and take responsible steps to correct underlying causes and wrong habits before they get out of hand. Be prepared, even ‘plan’ for problems and delays, so when they do occur you will not be caught unaware.

5/. Open, honest communication? The actions or words of others in close working or living relationships can be a ready source of reacting. Endeavour to maintain open, honest communication so issues do not get bottled up and cause a major problem, with exaggeration and disastrous repercussions. Address all such matters – but not when angry or emotionally stressed. In every job and situation in life, things can go wrong, especially at the worst possible time!  It helps to maintain a sense of humour, aware that many things are not such ‘a major’ as they first seem, and in a year’s time, it will probably have very little significance. Is it worth having a row over?

6/. Gentle and Christ-like? Don’t allow another’s attitude to determine your behaviour by responding to any attacks against you in the same destructive negative spirit that you have received – rather “Love...blessing those who curse you, praying for those who ill-treat you” (Prov 25:21,22; Mt 5:44; Lk 6:28; 1 Pet 3:9). When a person verbally attacks, pretend not to hear and ask them to repeat what they

What wrong reactions have                  I displayed lately?

said, this allows you time to formulate a Christ-like replays as “A soft answer turns away anger” (Prov 15:1).  The tongue is a deadly weapon; with it, we can bless or curse others (Jas 3:9). A disciplined reaction is being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry for “The anger of man does not express the grace of God” (Jas 1:19,20). Is my reaction displaying the characteristics of the flesh or the nature of God? (Gal 5:19-23).

The reaction of others affects our personalities molding our character and thought patterns. Our health is affected by emotional turmoil. Some physical ailments are the outcome of harmful emotions and reactions not being properly handled.  Stress which has not been resolved leads to burnout – this is a physical reaction to over-extending the body’s reserves and abilities, with insufficient time to recover. Don’t let yours or another’s reaction destroy you or the relationship through bitterness or hurt. Remember, it’s not so much what is done to us as how we handle it that is important. We are (or should be) being perfected by the imperfections of others.

See also: actions/activity, anger, attitude, choice, emotions, flesh, frustrations, habits, hurts, moods, not being ministered to, opposite spirit, response, self-control, stress, temperament, test/testing, tongue, trials.

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