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I used to excuse myself when I react badly to criticism / scolding / constructive feedback / frustrating situations with the phrase “it’s a knee-jerk reaction”. I would go on a ranting tangent to close friends and after I was done, I would sit back and think “oh hey, that actually makes sense”.

Like… whut?

By definition, a knee-jerk reaction is involuntary. By labelling my reactions as “knee-jerk reactions”, it somehow conveys the idea that they are involuntary. So it’s really not my fault!

Only, they are.

How often do we as Christians react in a way that we should not? When someone encroaches in on our comfort zones or takes a poke at our pride, we get all fired up in “righteous anger”. If you read about the life of Jesus, you’ll never find one circumstance where He was righteously angry about what people did to Him. It was always about others. He was not His main concern. He was selfless.

But more often than not, we get angry because someone has offended us, or done us an injustice. When was the last time we got angry because of what someone did to someone else?

God has been speaking to me about this lately.

Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.

— Proverbs 16:32 (NLT)

Sometimes we want to tell others that we are strong, don’t mess with us. We don’t want to be walked all over and taken advantage of. While we need to be wise in our choices, we need to be pliable before God and allow Him to do what He needs to do. We need to put others before ourselves and to learn to listen and control the way we react to situations.

I’m not there yet, obviously (else God wouldn’t be speaking to me about it), but it is something I’m working towards.