Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What pushes your buttons?

I found myself in a familiar feeling situation last week. That feeling of aggravation rising, that feeling that someone was getting on my nerves and working hard to do it. I was, after all, driving in Ohio. I officially labeled it "Home of the Road Rage." Driving along 90 for about 70 or 80 miles, the speed limit changed some 20 times - 55 mph, 65 mph, 70 mph, back and forth - at least it breaks up the monotony. On one the first rises to 70 mph I was accelerating when I noticed a car was coming up on my left. Not wanting to 'fight' him to stop her from completing a pass, I took my foot of the gas and held at 60 or so to let her by. She got to just in front of my van and held steady at 60 or so, just inching forward a car length or two every minute. After several minutes, I decided I should just get up to speed and let them fall in behind me, but as I sped up, she sped up, and pulled in front of me just as I was coming up behind her. Since I was now too close, I pulled out into the left lane when she promptly sped up further. I was laughing at the lunacy of what was happening, but I was getting frustrated. And with good reason, or so I felt. (Side note: I remained relaxed and the trip was without any road rage incident)

Then came Sunday's services. The evening was covering Matthew 7:1-23 - the incident of the pharisees complaining to Jesus about his disciples eating with unwashed hands. The main lesson? Sin doesn't come from outside of you, it comes from inside you. It is your heart that makes you defiled, not anything that goes into your body. Someone's bad driving cannot make you angry - that is a choice. A pile of money left out in plain sight cannot make you a thief - that is a choice. A caring, attractive person of the opposite sex cannot make you an adulterer or fornicator - that is a choice. Someone cannot push your buttons to get you upset - that is a choice. Our reactions that come from our heart are the cause of our sin.

Some might say "But how can I change my reactions?" I'm glad they asked.

How shall a young man cleanse his way, by taking heed thereto according to thy word. - Psalm 119:9

But I'm not young! I can't change!

If any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. - II Corinthians 5:17

Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. 
- Psalm 119:11

Do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:2

There's probably a voice inside of you saying that it can't be that simple. That the answer in Scripture sounds too simplistic to work. That voice comes when we don't take the renewing power of God's Word seriously. That voice comes when we let God's voice to us through his word be crowded up by conflicting and competing words from the world around us, even from our own 'wisdom.' That voice comes when we are not serious about being people of the Word and letting it change us.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in you richly . . .

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus . . .

Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit . . .

Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth . . . 

Teach them to your children, when you sit, when you rise . . . .

Old Testament, New Testament, there seems to be a repeated theme of how to live in victory over sin. Of how to erase our 'buttons' that get pressed by people, by our surroundings, by the world system around us. It is sobering to find in Scripture that while the rest of the world says that there is always a cause outside of you making you behave badly, God says it comes from your heart. Fix your heart, fix your problems.

Several years ago, I tried an experiment. Not of heart change, but to change my reactions. (Of course, you can't change reactions, right?) And I picked one of the hard ones. I didn't want to be ticklish. I decided to become 'not ticklish.' And I learned something very interesting. I could change my reaction. I also had an uncle that liked to find that spot between the neck and shoulder where it would cause you to 'spazz' and hit it. I chose to become 'immune.' Something cold placed on your neck to surprise you and make you jump, right? I changed my 'reaction' to enjoyment. I know, I'm just a little bit stubborn. But the reason I am sharing this is that reactions can be changed by the power of our will, how much more can they be changed if we let the power of God loose in our hearts?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

I apologize if some of the verses have an error in them, due to the nature of the post, I went from memory except for checking the end of Romans 12:2 because my mind scrambled it this morning. :)

Keep looking up!