Summary: 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
How Not to Over-React
We all have a tendency to over react when provoked. One day a Midwestern Lawyer became so discouraged with his productivity that he despaired of everything in life. He wrote in his diary, "I do not know if my life is worth anything to anyone. I often wonder if my life will ever be worth anything and I am afraid that it will not." Even his close friends and family members removed all knives and razor blades from him fearing that he would commit suicide. Through prayer, meditation and the quiet assurances of his friends, this young man overcame his sense of depression. That man became the finest president of the US. His name was Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe took those same hard earned lessons with him to the White House where he learned not to over-react in times of great civil war. He saved the union because of his calm ability to deal with problems one at a time with wisdom and God’s guidance.
Perhaps 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.
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. 11 :18,19)
5. Let people know you by the fruits of your good deeds. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
6. 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.
7. 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 lift 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.
8. Choose to pray about your response before speaking off the top of your head. Solomon wrote, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insights. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5,6) God’s Spirit is ready, willing and able to give you supernatural wisdom for every situation, if you will only ask Him.
9. Choose to ponder your decision for at least a day. Many wise men have chosen to spend at least a day considering all of the alternatives, implications and costs of a decision before committing themselves prematurely. Solomon wrote, "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." (Proverbs 21:5)
10. Hasty over reactions are the cause of many poor decisions. Haste makes waste.