On Wednesday I had some time and printed off a bunch of emails from the early days of this writing relationship we have. Circa 2013-2014 to be precise.
Two things struck me. One was the sheer number of them and two was the way so many people would respond each week.
I realized it was because it was our Sunday school class email and we had that weekly relationship. It was sweet and sad to read back through emails from people who have now left us on planet earth yet remain in our hearts plus just the way I don’t see a lot of you anymore. So the first thing I want to say is that you are loved and cared about and thought of or you wouldn’t get this little note in your box every week.
With all that nostalgia going, as I thought about what to send you today, I decided to go old school and discuss our current sermon series on Proverbs and share some insights I have gleaned this week.
The daily read-through of just the first chapter has been a good discipline. If you are at all like me, after the third time I was kind of feeling that old rebel spirit rise up. What could I possibly get from another day reading a passage I have read numerous times over the years.
Thankfully the previous sermon series, where we learned to not just read the word but put them into practice, kept me on the up and up and I faithfully read that first chapter every day.
And guess what?
I actually did pick up new things as I did this daily.
So it was that yesterday I had a verse out of the chapter come to life with new meaning for me.
I was reading in the CSB translation and found this passage jump off the page, so to speak:
If you respond to my warning, then I will pour out my
Spirit on you and teach you my words.Proverbs 1: 23 CSB
Other translations use “turned to me” or “repent” or “listened and acted”
I think the reason this phrase “Responded” resonated with me is that God has been stepping on my toes from a variety of sources lately about the importance of “responding” instead of “reacting”.
Go ahead and guess which my fall back is in any and all situations.
Yes, I react rather than respond to situations, trials, comments, interactions with people, and even God.
I had to look up the two words to make it a little clearer to me and basically a reaction is typically a negative emotional “response” to a stimulus. Typically it is in opposition to the stimulus. Think chemical reaction…there is a change that happens from the original ingredients mixing together.
A response is something answered. So it is typically more positive and yes…I know…you can react to something with a response and respond with a reaction. But let’s not go down rabbit trails.
The idea of “responding” is that you appropriately answer or act in a like manner to what was said. “Reacting” is pulling in a bunch of emotions and applying them to what you are guessing was being implied.
There is an old joke that I think illustrates the point.
If you ask a man who is grilling where he bought the meat, he will name the grocery store or butcher shop. If you ask his wife, she will ask you back what is wrong with it.
Now that is a generalization for men and women, but I can attest that is the true story in our house.
Russ responds and I react. Or more typically overreact.
So as I look at the passages regarding wisdom, I see that “reacting” might be offering defenses or excuses or rebuttals or arguments to God’s words of direction and teaching. The obvious result of this has to be that nothing will come of His words working in me and in my life.
The other option of “responding” means that I am listening. I may still have questions and I may struggle with applying them or understanding them but by responding with humility that admits I don’t know a lot and I need help allows Him to continue to speak and teach my teachable heart.
Respond or react or flat out ignore.
It is a posture of the hearer.
So how will you respond?
Blessings on your weekend <3