Overcoming “Impulsiveness”

Bible, study (2)The Internet is KILLING US! (Not really…but it makes a good scapegoat and illustration).

I know very few people who set out with elaborate plans to sin. Rarely do I find a person who thinks through the entire process and plans every detail along the way. Listen to the planning involved with the woman of Proverbs 7. “I went to the temple and prayed, cleaned the house, took a bath, made the bed, sent my husband off on a business trip…and now I am out here on the street looking for a young, good-looking man like you as the answer to my prayers! Let’s sin together!” Most often, we are like the man in the story who is naïve and foolish…we wander too far into the wrong environment and linger too long once we get there. We listen too agreeably to the enticement and, then suddenly, we SUBMIT to the temptation (Prov 7:22). At other times, we are like the fish at the bottom of the lake on a warm day. We are just there waiting to feed in a few hours when the sun goes down and suddenly…along comes a lure and we jump on it. No thought…and no impulse control. Just attack…and we are hooked.

The truth, if we can stand to hear it, is that we lack the “Self-control” Peter commanded us to ADD to our faith (2 Peter 1:5-7). We are too impulsive! We see it, want it, get it…and worry about tomorrow when and if it gets here! YOLO (you only live once) …we might say! The truth is though…YOLO is a lie! We don’t only live once. We live (in this line of thinking) TWICE. We live life on this earth and then we live forever with the consequences of choices we make HERE…either in presence of God and His grace or in absence from God under His righteous condemnation.

Self-control is about choosing the best path for our lives. I can have chocolate cake today and cholesterol medication from now on…or I can skip the cake and be healthy. I can buy the new shiny thing through Amazon Prime now…or I can sleep on it and maybe realize why I have made it all these years without it so far and save my money for something better later. I can pursue sexual temptation in front of me and deal with the consequences from now on…or I can honor the vow to God and my mate and live under His blessing.

Self-control is about choice. It is about deciding to discipline ourselves to choose that which is best, that which offers real promise, that which serves the greater good. Anyone can choose ONE-CLICK PURCHASE on their Prime account…but wise people take a breath and make certain that the long-term results are worth the momentary action.

Are you impulsive? Choose to control it. Seek God’s help in doing so. Beg Him to make you mindful of the choice and the corresponding consequence. Listen to His voice and choose to obey…even against your impulsive instinct.

#P5: To escalate or de-escalate…

Pastor's Five, P5 logo“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1, NASB.

Like most of you, I have been inundated with video and commentary about the recent event in McKinney, TX where a police officer (now former police officer) was recorded shouting profanity and yelling at a group of teens that were reported to him to be trespassing and engaged in a fight. There are tons of commentaries on the incident and no shortage of opinions on the justification of the officer’s actions. I have an opinion based on what I have seen, but also realize that I have not seen everything…only what those who are seeking to shape their narrative have offered. So, I will not lead the parade to the lynching of either the officer or the teens. What I will do is offer a reflection on how Scripture informs the conduct of our lives.

When a person is opposed (verbally or otherwise) there is an immediate and sometimes overwhelming urge to lash out and “let them have it!” Acting on that urge provides a release and momentary euphoria. “I showed them!” But…if we were truthful, our unbridled response likely only exasperated the situation and evoked a more strident response from our opposition.

The officer was in a chaotic situation. large crowd dynamics (particularly when they involve children and teens without the wisdom that comes with maturity–chronological, emotional, and experiential) are dicey. Emotions are high and feelings are on everyone’s sleeves. While a need may actually exist to take firm control of a situation, misplaced outbursts of emotion may serve to escalate the situation. For instance, the officer’s loud, profane, and harsh words along with his take charge demeanor pushed the emotional quotient much higher than it needed to be and actually made the situation more volatile. (Now forgive me, since I have the luxury of hindsight that was not afforded to the officer or the teens involved). The same is true for the “mouthy” kids who are poster-child examples of the need to bring back “washing your mouth out with soap.” (The interviews with the kids after the incident present a far more respectful and subdued tone).

The truth is…Scripture speaks truth. If you can master your emotions with the help of God’s grace and respond rather than react to a situation…you stand a better chance of resolving conflict.

Not that I would assign a “faith position” to anyone at the pool that day without a little more inside information, but this I know…everyone there was a broken/sinful creature. Everyone there had a propensity toward self-exaltation and self-preservation. Everyone there needed more Jesus! EVERYONE!

James, the half-brother of Jesus, reminds us well that the tongue is evil and untamable (in its perfect expression). It must be mastered. If it is not, man’s religion is of no real and transcendent value.

So, here it is: Learn to swallow hard when you want to lash out. Breathe. Count to 10 or 10,000. Respond rather than react. This is wisdom and speaks well of our Savior. Any other response misrepresents the heart of our Lord and King.