Impulsively React or Thoughtfully Respond?

I’m a person who has always struggled mightily with my mouth. I tended to impulsively react to events and say things before really taking the time to think them through. One reason I reacted this way was that I arrogantly believed that I was almost always on target with my words.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Then I began to learn. I heard from my wife, my children, my good friends, and even from some who were not always so friendly. I learned from the Bible, and there heard from God.

Once I was schooled in this, here’s what I found out: Impulsive reactions are most frequently not a good thing. They are not a sign of great native intelligence. In fact, the Bible would call them unwise (or just plain dumb!), and more than once labels them sin.

Some seem to know this more “naturally.” It’s like it’s built into their personalities to respond more carefully. But others, like me, spend a lifetime learning the importance of responding thoughtfully, rather than reacting impulsively.

One of the greatest gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of inner peace, a calm-heartedness, and an ability to just slow down a bit in one’s thought-processes. Some decisions are best reached quickly. But many decisions are wisely arrived at after a few moments (or hours, or days, or even weeks) of thought.

One of the best places I learned this was in the book of Proverbs — the book of God’s wisdom. And here are a few things one can learn about the blessings (or, alternatively, the curses) of our choice to react or to respond:

  • When I talk with an evil intent toward someone (or behind their back), that’s going to end up being a harmful trap for me!
  • When I speak with an innocent heart, I don’t have to worry so much about traps.
  • Words that are thoughtful and well-crafted can really benefit me and those I speak about too.
  • Fools react in a headstrong fashion, impulsively thinking they are always right.
  • Wise people take some time to listen to others for advice before they announce a decision.
  • Fools have a short fuse and get annoyed quickly.
  • Wise people know how to overlook insults and let them run like water off a duck’s back.

“Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk, and so the innocent escape trouble. From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward. The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult” (Proverbs 12:13-16, NIV).

Lord, help me by your Spirit’s power to control my mouth and respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively. By your Son Jesus’ blood, wash me clean and forgive me for all the sins that I have committed with my words. Thank you that you have spoken to me with thoughtful, loving words and promises. Help me to hold those in my heart at all times.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, May 16, is Ruth 1:1 – 2:23, John 9:1-34 and Proverbs 12:8-17.

Header image based on "Mouthing off" by Demi-Brooke, CC By 2.0

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pastorjeffgunn

I'm married to my beautiful wife Julie and have five kids whose names all begin with the letter A. I'm a pastor at CrossWalk Church in Phoenix, AZ. I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, and my grandkids. Huge Arizona Cardinals fan! Reading, hiking, camping, travel, and fishing are my top 5 downtime pleasures.

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