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Summary: One Italian man became so frustrated with his wife’s badgering that he had himself arrested just to have one night’s peace in a jail cell. However, ten minutes after being securely locked away for the night because of pretending to be publicly intoxicated

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Avoid Over-reacting to Provocations (James 1:19)

We all have a tendency to over react when provoked. Some have more difficulty than others controlling their emotions.

Illustration: One Italian man became so frustrated with his wife’s badgering that he had himself arrested just to have one night’s peace in a jail cell. However, ten minutes after being securely locked away for the night because of pretending to be publicly intoxicated, he was shocked by what he saw.

Apparently, the wife learned about his plot and also got herself arrested so that she could be strategically have a captive audience for her complaints. Since the jailhouse had only two cells, she was placed in the cell immediately adjacent to her

husband. Shakespeare said, "Oh what tangled webs we weave when we practice to deceive."

This is may be one of the reasons that James wrote, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1:19) Only when our mind, will and emotions are under the control of the Spirit of God can we accomplish His perfect will.

In our fast paced world there are many temptations to respond quickly without weighing our words. However, the following principles can help prevent many problems caused by uncontrolled over reactions.

1. Choose your words carefully before you react. Solomon wrote, "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered." (Proverbs 27:17) Practicing the discipline of restraint is especially important in our conversations.

Illustration: A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention. --Proverbs 15:18

What’s a six-letter word for the way parents too often communicate with their children?

Try s-c-r-e-a-m.

Cross words so often fly between parents and children that children must surely be puzzled.

After all, parents who love Jesus are supposed to be noted for their love. We are supposed to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. We are supposed to be able to control our cross words.

The book of Proverbs has some great words of wisdom for those who ask, "How do I stop yelling at my kids?" A nine-letter word holds the key: r-e-s-t-r-a-i-n-t.

Look at Proverbs 15:1-2. "A soft answer turns away wrath." To make that work takes self-control. "A harsh word stirs up anger." Harsh words aren’t restrained. "The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly." The unrestrained tongue speaks first and checks the facts later. "But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness." A foolish person lets words come out uncontrollably.

When we use cross words to communicate with our children, we must remember how confusing it is. They are puzzled when we don’t show the love we talk about. Restraint can end the cross word puzzle. --JDB

When you communicate, use words

That heal and nourish life

Instead of hurling angry words

That wound and stir up strife. --Sper

Sharp words can dull respect. (Our Daily Bread)

2. Choose your companions carefully before you react out of bad peer pressure. The first Psalm writer wrote, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord." (Psa. 1:1,2) It is too easy to conform to the negative pressures of carnal friends who can influence one to become cynical.

3. Choose what you want to accomplish before reacting. Solomon once wrote, "Any enterprise is built by wise planning. Become strong through common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts." (Prov. 24:3,4) Think about what will be accomplished by your contribution before offering your opinions.

4. Choose what kind of affects you want to have with others. People gain a reputation by how they react under pressure situations. Jesus was known as a man who did not respond to provocation out of uncontrolled anger. One day, people were comparing Jesus unfavorably with John the Baptist. They said, "For John came neither eating nor drinking and they say, ’He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ’Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But wisdom is proved right by her actions." (Matt. 1 1:18,19) Let people know you by the fruits of your good deeds.

5. Choose God’s greater purposes than pyrrhic victories. Sometimes you may be able to win a battle, but lose a bigger war. Many words said in anger are zingers that can bring short-term gain, but long term pain.

6. Choose to constrain your tongue until you have gotten godly counsel. It is always good to get a second opinion before deliberating on all points of an issue. Jesus said, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and bring it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." The disciples were wise to consult Jesus regarding such an explosive issue as doing work on the Sabbath. The Lord gave them objective wisdom when subjective emotions could have easily let a smaller issue erupt into a greater conflict.

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