“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit”
Nothing provokes me to anger more quickly than hearing my children be unkind to one another. There are days when the bickering and unkindness seem incessant and I wonder if I’m going to make it until bedtime.
Hmm, you too?
I want my children to love Jesus. I want them to love one another. I want peace.
But I want what I want, and without realizing it, I’m often willing to sin to get it. And in the process, I sabotage my own deepest (good and godly) desires. I walk according to my flesh, rather than by the Spirit.
Over the years I’ve learned that to walk by the Spirit, I need to slow down. I need to pay attention to what’s happening beneath the surface when I’m feeling something—no matter the emotion.
Emotions are a good, God-given gift! They’re meant to be indicators and warning lights, but not directors in our life.
But, just like we’ll blow through a red light if we’re not paying attention, so too will we overlook and blow through these God-given warning lights and indicators and act in unbecoming ways if we don’t slow down.
Here’s a scenario: My daughter is unkind to a sibling and I respond harshly to her and lecture her. I feel angry because what she’s doing is wrong and I see her making poor choices. I see the potential consequences years down the road. I think that if I can control my child, I can control the outcome.
Now, that process is actually backward from how it should be. And usually, I’m not paying attention to what I’m thinking. I’m too busy reacting. But that’s often how it goes, isn’t it?
We act rashly and then we might think about it later.
But we’re told in Scripture to Keep [our hearts] with all vigilance, for from [them] flows the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
We must pay attention to what’s happening inside so that we can act outwardly with wisdom at any given moment.
So, here’s the first most important step in this process: slow down. Everything in us will fight it.
But we must! Loving Jesus and loving others is worth doing the inconvenient work of slowing down.
I need to take a few minutes to figure out what I’m thinking. When my child is being unkind, what am I thinking about? If I’m honest, I’m thinking of her as a 20-something with no friends because she’s persisted in this way her entire life.
I’m also thinking that I’m failing as a mom to teach her well. “I must be if she’s acting this way!”
Then, I think I need to try harder. If I’m just a better mom, they’ll be better fruit.
Oh, girl, I’m in deep trouble right there. If I don’t get a grip on those untrue thoughts, anxiety, fear, and anger will quickly creep in. And then I’ll act out of that place.
Go to the Lord
In those moments, I must go to the Lord! I need to take all of those thoughts captive and hold them up to the truth of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Believe me when I tell you that sometimes it’s an all-out wrestling match within me!
But I need to get rid of those thoughts and replace them with the truth.
When I begin to believe and think about what is true, lovely, excellent, etc. (Philippians 4:8), I will feel differently (Php 4:7), and I will act out of that place. I’ll be walking by the Spirit and not my flesh.
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “I need help here.” Sister, you’re not alone. We all need help. Why don’t you take a few minutes and go to the Lord, praying through the verses I’ve referenced?
He’ll gladly meet you right where you are, with joy.
In His Word
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2 ESV)
In Your Life
Are you quick to react to life circumstances? Today, commit to slow down when provoked. Go to the Lord and ask Him to examine your heart (Psalm 139:23-24).