Daily Devotional December 22
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Our primary natural jerk reaction to unknown situations is by far to respond in fear...or at the very least caution. This year we have seen a lot of ‘jerk reactions.’ But fear is not our only natural response. I believe that two of our main motivators as the human race, which are the root cause of the majority of our problems, are fear and pride–mix the two of them together and you have trouble! Our fear can produce very different results in most people–running scared or complete denial. Our pride then kicks in demanding that our response to a potentially fearful situation has been the only correct one and all other responses must be denounced. During times that we should be coming together to solve issues, we find ourselves increasingly polarized. Haven’t we seen this scenario replayed over and over in 2020? Opposing reactions, followed by accusations and belligerence; both sides digging in their hypothetical heels.
After a brief hiatus this week from the angry commentary regarding the election in the USA, we are back at it with the announcements of virus related lock downs. Some people have expressed opinions that it is too little too late, others denigrate the response as a total over-reaction. Can I suggest a third response? As I see it, demanding complete isolation is a fear-based response to the potential of catching the illness and the possibility of dying. Flouting restrictions with rallies and the like is a fear-based response to job insecurity and a refusal to give up the comfort of the ways things were. Demanding that our way is the only right way denies the fact that there is still so much we do not yet understand. It is pride that is screaming at the top of its lungs to be heard, not wisdom. Fear based responses do not promote wholistic problem-solving.
The Bible warns us against making decisions out of fear, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). It also warns us against denying that there is a problem, “They give assurances of peace when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14b). I have always appreciated the reminder of the need for balance from Jesus, “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Don’t get taken in by every loud noise and don’t become part of the noise. Be ‘shrewd’ and ‘harmless’; ‘wise’ and ‘meek’; ‘thoughtful’ and ‘gentle.’ What we need now are the unassuming voices of reason to be heard–the voices that are often silenced in the tumult of extreme opinions. We need believers who are controlled by the Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control to speak up.
The way forward cannot be found in pride or fear, but rather in humility and trust...and seeking after God and His wisdom. How does your natural reaction line up with the characteristics that are to be predominant in the life of someone who has God’s Holy Spirit providing daily guidance? Let’s not settle for natural ‘jerk’ reactions!
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!