Responding vs. Reacting

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” “Good sense wins favor. Every prudent man acts with knowledge.” “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless. A man of quick temper acts foolishly.” “The fruit of the Spirit is…patience” Proverbs 9:10; 10:19; 13:15-16; 14:16-17; Galatians 5:22

After hurricane Irma, many trees were greatly distressed, limbs cracked, torn, and twisted, leaves stripped or salt-water-wind-whipped brown. Had we removed them immediately, we would have missed out on seeing their rebound and fresh growth. It just took a while. Reacting quickly can not only get us into trouble, but can prevent us from seeing the better, wiser choice. Sometimes we need to step back and consider the bigger picture, or at least calm our emotions so we can respond with reason and grace.


I think of times I was asked to do something, and my first impulse was to say no, my plate is full. But the process of waiting on God and seeking his direction gave me fresh insight into new plans He had for me; sometimes that included ceasing another task I was involved with. Other instances have brought an immediate trigger of emotion, but waiting, listening to intention behind the words, taking a moment to think through what transpired, clears vision and understanding. It is always worth it to wait on the Lord and respond, not react. Nehemiah is a helpful model for measured wisdom. When he first got to Jerusalem, having heard only the report of his tearful brothers, he took time to assess the situation before making a strategy. When he was angry, he prayed before speaking; when opposed, he turned to prayer rather than lash back. (Nehemiah 2:11-18; 4:8-9; 5:6-9)

Lord, teach me thoughtfully to respond rather than react. Please give perspective and patience. May my only impulse be to weigh in with You, and wait on You. (Psalm 27:14)

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