We do have a lot of control over our emotions. Have you ever been frustrated or angry over something, and then right in the middle of it the phone rings? Isn’t it amazing how often the person on the other end of the phone finds a totally different attitude from you than you had just seconds before. You made a choice to respond differently, and if you stayed with it long enough you probably even got off the phone with a different attitude. I’ve seen this dramatized in a number of different ways by comedians, pastors, and conference speakers and the reason for them portraying it is that it represents something in us that happens when we choose to stop and reassess before we proceed.
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” (James 1:19, NASB95)
James 1:19 is such a powerful verse when it is actually practiced in our lives, and especially when it is practiced in a particular way. There is benefit in all situations of stopping to really hear what is being said and even meant before we plow forward with our response, and most often there is even a calming in the situation. This calming generally happens on both sides, and with good willed and good intentioned people it generally leads to being drawn closer together (though it may not happen immediately). But there are those who are so set in their ways and the intent of their direction and even their anger, that the calming may only happen on your side, and at least you don’t get sucked into it with them.
But there is a much more powerful side to being quick to hear, and that is being quick to hear from God, the prompting and leading of His Spirit, and even His Word hidden in our hearts. Even in those momentary prayers, when we in our hearts and minds look to Him for wisdom, peace, and the right words and/or direction before we respond in a pressing situation. Doing this rather than jumping in with our own initial reaction and responding in our own flesh has a dramatic calming effect of our hearts and minds.
Coming back again to Philippians 4:4-7 we read, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7, ESV)
In these verses we are to be mindful of in stopping to look to God before striking back with a quick and wrongly motivated response. We read that we are to rejoice, which might remind us that God is in charge even of this particular encounter and that He has promised to direct our steps. We might be reminded that in letting our reasonableness being know to others that we serve a God who loves and saves sinners and those who were His enemies (us), and that even when we are in a situation with other believers that they are not our enemy, but members together of the body of Christ in whom we have been united and sealed by the Spirit. And when we focus on the Lord being at hand we can be reminded that Jesus promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. We are not in any situation alone.
So, why be anxious when you are reminded of all of these things. Just stop and look to God, thank Him for His presence His help and ask Him for His peace, His direction, and His right and rightly said words. And then Paul assures us that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds as opposed to being quickly angered and James mentions. Paul continued in Philippians by even giving us some things on which we can think in order to redirect our thoughts—things which we should regularly practice.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8–9, ESV)
Spend time getting to know Him.
Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (9/12)
Receive My Peace. It is My continual gift to you. The best way to receive this gift is to sit quietly in My Presence, trusting Me in every area of your life. Quietness and trust accomplish far more than you can imagine: not only in you, but also on earth and in heaven. When you trust Me in a given area, you release that problem or person into My care.
Spending time alone with Me can be a difficult discipline, because it goes against the activity addiction f this age. You may appear to be doing nothing, but actually you are participating in battles going on within spiritual realms. You are waging war—not with the weapons of the world, but with heavenly weapons, which have divine power to demolish strongholds. Living close to Me is a sure defense against evil.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27, NASB95)
“For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing,” (Isaiah 30:15, NASB95)
“for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NASB95)