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

Words Wound. Words Heal.

Words have tremendous power.

Words wound. They hurt. They slander. They promote lies and they cover the truth. Words that flow from a wicked heart often demolish the heart of their target.

Words are arrows to the heart. They are daggers to the soul.

And words heal. They help us find the right way in life. They show us the way of grace. They lead us to the blood of Christ and his forgiveness. Even correction and discipline for the believer bring life.

Words are a powerful salve for the spirit. They are miracle medicine for the heart.

Solomon knew the power of words to wound or to heal. And so he encourages us to make the choice to be healers when we open our mouths.

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool. Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. (Proverbs 10:17-20, NIV)

Our Bible reading for Wednesday, April 22, is Joshua 1:1 – 2:24, Luke 21:5-38 and Proverbs 10:11-20.

Lord, I am sorry for the times when I have not listened to correction. Forgive me for my misuse of my tongue. Keep my heart from wickedness. Thank you most of all for your kind words to me. The good news of our salvation is the best news ever — and it heals!

Header image based on "Magnetic Fridge Poetry" by Steve Johnson, CC By 2.0