Reaction Action

“Action has killed its thousands. Reaction its tens of thousands.” —E. Stanley Jones

  • Yes, he pulled out in front of you [action], but is tailgating him any better [reaction]?
  • Sure, she embarrassed you [action], but is slandering her any better [reaction]?
  • Yep, he lied to you [action], but is harboring a lifelong grudge any better [reaction]?
  • Okay, she tripped you [action], but is slapping her any better [reaction]?
  • That pastor betrayed your confidence [action], but is assassinating his character any better [reaction]?

“Vengeance is a passion to get even. It is a hot desire to give back as much pain as someone gave you. … The problem with revenge is that it never gets what it wants; it never evens the score. Fairness never comes. The chain reaction set off by every act of vengeance always takes its unhindered course. It ties both the injured and the injurer to an escalator of pain. Both are stuck on the escalator as long as parity is demanded, and the escalator never stops, never lets anyone off.” —Lewis Smedes

“But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you. When someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let that person slap your other cheek.” —Jesus Christ

2 Responses to “Reaction Action”

  1. Frank Pray Says:

    Craig, this subject of “RE-action” has been on my mind, and sadly, in my experience recently. Of course, I like to think of myself as this very good, rational, mature Christian guy. Then the evidence is admitted. The case for “good guy” gets shaky.

    Last month, I nearly had a parking lot fist fight over who had rights to a parking space at the Beach. I just ended a new dating relationship because of reactions, her’s and mine. A friend just last night didn’t give me the attention or recognition I thought I deserved, and I responded by complaining, or more accurately, whining. Bottom line: reacting is dangerous to my relationships, and sometimes my safety!

    I’d be interested in your follow-up thoughts / suggestions on how to become less reactive.


    • Craig T. Owens Says:

      First of all, Frank, you have to understand that I am a recovering rage-aholic. I used to blow my stack so quickly and so easily, and my REactions were clearly more damaging than the actions that caused them. So, speaking from personal experience, here are a couple of things I have learned:

      (1) Ask myself, “Will my reaction cool this down, or pour fuel on the fire?” Most of the time, my reaction is only going to make it worse, so I have to step back.

      (2) Count to 10. I know Thomas Jefferson said if you were really angry to count to 100, but I’m too impatient for that. Plus, I have found that in just those 10 short seconds, my mind is able to process so many different scenarios and pull the best one to the forefront.

      (3) Find out why I’m responding this way. For me, it was a pride issue: I wanted to always be right. Once I could isolate the core issue (pride), then I could begin to memorize Scriptures that dealt directly with this problem.

      These things have really helped me. I still struggle, but my reactions have definitely become more balanced, and everyone around me is so grateful!


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