Have you ever had a delayed reaction offense? This has happened to me recently. I was talking with one of my friends and she said something to me that I honestly did not think anything of at the time, everything was fine, we laughed, talked and had a good time. An entire 24 hours later as I was vacuuming my room, this thought barges into my brain: What is THAT supposed to mean? And the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. So I stewed for a bit, then vented to my husband (please tell me this is sounding familiar to some of you!) and then I stewed some more.
My wonderful husband looked at me and said these words, "You know, the only one this is affecting is you."
At first, I just stared at him. Then I wanted to smack him. Then I realized just how right he was. I had let something said to me hurt me when, at the time, I didn't think anything of it. So, why, all of a sudden, am I having this violent reaction?
Maybe this scripture will shed some light on the subject:
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (emphasis mine)
Paul reminds us here that our war is not a battle fought in the physical realm, but one fought in the spiritual realm. And the forefront of the fray is our mind. The enemy will come in and plant a thought in order to create an emotional reaction. Once the emotion is created, a lot of the time, our actions will follow suite.
We need to learn to recognize these attacks. I could have continued to be angry and let those emotions get in the way of a wonderful friendship. I could have continued to stew about what she said until I became bitter towards her. Instead, I chose to hear the wisdom in the words of my husband. My anger had no bearing on her (she had no idea I was mad) but it had a great bearing on me.
When we let our negative emotions get the best of us, we put a boundary between us and God. This boundary is because we are not listening to God, we are listening to us. This is never more true than when it comes to anger. The Bible tells us, "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold," Ephesians 4:26-27. The devil gets a foothold when we hold onto our anger. Anger is not a sin, it is an emotion. It is the path we follow under the influence of that emotion that puts us in danger of sinning.
As a woman, I am prone to be led by my emotions. I tend to follow the way I feel; and to be honest, that can be dangerous. We say things we don't mean because we feel angry; we over-commit ourselves because we feel excited; we hurt others because we feel wronged. When we let our emotions take the driver's seat in our lives, we are on a dangerous road.
Let us make an effort to think logically and rationally when we feel the emotional tidal wave threatening to sweep us away. Stop for just a moment and consider:
1) The source of offense. I know my friend and she would never say anything to me spitefully or hatefully in order to hurt my feelings (clue #1 that I might be on the verge of over-reaction).
2) Am I in a highly emotional state already? There are those certain times when we are more sensitive (ladies, you know what time I'm talking about). There are also certain circumstances that can lend itself to a rash reaction (when I am hungry or when I am already frazzled).
3) Is my reaction to this situation God honoring? How does He want me to respond to this? We know that it does not honor God when we give someone a piece of our mind or incite a nasty confrontation. If there is true cause for offense we are still called to peace. Maybe this means we have to spend time in the Word of God get a firm handle on our runaway emotions before we confront but we are always called to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our Lord.
I could go on and on and cite Scripture after Scripture on the dangers of being overly emotional but I will leave you with the one that has affected me the most:
"Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools." Ecclesiastes 7:9
I would much rather follow the Lord's word and be wise than to forever be flying off the handle and be foolish. I long for balance and consistency; in that quest I have found my emotions to be my worst enemy. If we are to battle the enemy on a daily basis and WIN, we must learn to monitor our thoughts and thereby control our emotions So, let's suite up and get out there and deal the devil a deathly blow by not giving him a foothold!! My mind is now officially. off. limits!