While a reaction is generally an instant, unconscious or involuntary, emotional or defensive impulse (often of a negative nature) a response is guided by logic and can change the direction of an interaction. A reaction

Endeavour to make only godly responses

controls us, for in effect we are giving away our power, yet with a response, we are in control, voluntarily choosing a better, positive and reasoned solution or expression of goodwill. Often it requires countering in the opposite spirit because the Bible counsels, “Don’t repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with a blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Pet 3:9). Find a creative solution to bless for “What you sow you will reap” (Gal 6:7). Respond as you believe Jesus would, and “Do to others as you would they do to you” (Lk 6:31). There will always be situations that have the potential to offend yet we should endeavour not to cause offence, even when speaking the truth of God’s Word in confrontation and correction. This should be done in a sensitive, non-judgmental manner – addressing the issue, not the person’s character. Motivated by love, the aim must be to see the other person reach a higher level.

God shows us our need, not to humiliate or frustrate us, but so we will turn to Him and receive the help that only He can give. We need to see the provision He has made available for us, His children, through the cross – forgiveness, healing, strength, wisdom, victory. It is then our responsibility to appropriate these blessings through faith. Knowing about the problem and the solution is futile unless we take the steps necessary to bring about the change. It is not sufficient just to say, “Speak for your servant is listening”, it needs be followed by obedience to the message (Josh 5:14; 1 Sam 3:10; Jas 1:22).  Blessed are they who hear the word of God and obey it (Lk 11:28, 12:42,43).

It is a natural progression of being touched by the love and mercy of God to reach out to those in need with a tender heart, even being prepared to get dirty hands, and ‘go the distance’ with long term involvement (Lk 10:29-37; Jas 2:15-17).

The response of a person to the gospel depends primarily on the condition or receptivity of their heart.

Even as believers we can be hard-hearted and resistant to the Word of God and the gentle pressure of the Holy Spirit on our conscience or we can have an open and pliable heart that hungers and thirsts after righteousness (Ezek 11:19, 36:26; Mt 5:6; Heb 3:7,8,15). If we open up to Jesus we will enjoy fellowship together yet, as He won’t force Himself on us, He awaits our acceptance of His invitation (Rev 3:20). Joshua challenged the people to “Choose you this day who you will serve” saying “As for me and my family we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15). Is that your response too?  From the choices we make come consequences. The Bible instructs us to guard our heart more than any treasure for it influences our direction and ultimately our destination (Deut 11:26-28, 30:19; Prov 4:23).

Endeavour to give every comment or request from another person some serious thought, before either saying something that you will be committed to or later regret you had said. Our words have tremendous power for good

Responses should solve, not create problems

or bad and we are obligated to honour what we have said (Prov 18:21; Mt 12:37). Are my responses positive and uplifting, revealing the nature of Christ, who I represent, or are they still reflective of the old carnal lifestyle of selfish and negative criticism?

Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you” (Mk 10:51). He invites us to “Ask, seek and knock...He will give good things to those who ask Him” (Mt 7:7-11). Praise and worship of a loving God should characterise our lives, knowing that all things work out for our good because we am committed to Him (Ps 37:5; Rom 8:28; 1 Thes 5:18). This was the kind of response Job had when his world fell apart (Job 1:20,21).

When He lived on earth, Jesus experienced similar situations to those we go through so He can empathise with us and He invites us to cast our burden on Him (Mt 11:28-30; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 5:7).

To be human is to suffer the ravages of time, of change, of suffering and ultimately death. Although we might not be able to control what happens to us, our response to these and other experiences will determine our character and outlook on life. True Christianity defines our response to life's challenges. With confidence, we can give ourselves willingly in devotion to the one who rescued us from a lost eternity in hell.

See also: accountability, attitude, choice, communication, hard-hearted, opposite spirit, reaction, self-control, temperament, words.