The little guy above is my nephew Ryan… who apparently really enjoys feeding himself or just making a mess. I remember when my first child (Minah) wanted to start eating on her own, and how I reacted – me wanting to feed her and her wanting to feed herself … which brings me to something I have been wanting to write about – controlling our reactions.
This is from a sermon from Pastor Jeff (Grace Brethren Church in Bath, OH) titled Controlling Your Reactions (Fresh Insights on Success) – 4/3/06. If only it were online to link to (we got it on CD)!
This is as much for me personally as it would be for anyone else. I can’t listen to this sermon enough – and have much to work on for improving my reactions. Praise Jesus for explaining the Word through this Pastor in such an easy-to-understand way!
Happiness is a broad term, generally meaning I am satisfied. We all want it; we all want to be fulfilled. But what’s the secret to it? It comes out of our heart… and John 10:10 records Jesus stating He has come to give life in its fullness:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
A “full life”? How? An alternative path is shown in Matthew 5:3-12 (the Beatitudes):
3Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Important question before getting to controlling our reactions – what is sin? Simply put, anything we do against God or outside of his control… “I will do it my way”, “I’m fine”, etc. But what’s the root of sin? Our pride.
How does this relate to controlling our reactions?
It comes back to the secret to happiness – the heart is the wellspring of life. If our heart is full of pride, our life breaks down. We must understand our heart and realize we can’t go without God.
We must know our reactions. All of us have our unique built-in reactions – what sets us off, what makes us smile. God created these reactions – they themselves are not the problem. What is the problem is what flows from the heart. If you find yourself thinking/saying “How dare you do that to me!”, are you reacting in pride? The other option – meekness. Simple definition of meekness is using your power under control to bring about benefit in others.
How can we be meek?
1. When someone is trying, see their heart not their mess
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
2. When someone fails, be gentle with them
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.
This easily becomes part of our habits, but it’s just pride “You’re stupid because I’m not”.
3. When someone disagrees with you, be tender without surrender
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
We can be one of three things:
- a doormat (“I want stand up to anyone”)
- controlling (“blows up”)
- meek (“I love you but you’re not getting your way”)
4. Remaining teachable
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
We never get there, we never “know it all”. Always be willing to listen, especially to God.
Meekness is not weakness, it’s a response to reality… returning favor to God.
Who is our model? Jesus.