When I see how my “normal” negative reactions have never made anything better in the past, I get a desire to do things differently.
On my last day of history class, the professor explained that there was one key concept he wanted us to remember: We need to learn from the past so we do not make similar mistakes in the future. I thought about how this idea could pertain to society. Just think if people could learn to avoid economic crises or perhaps even the devastating effects of wars!
Then, I realized that this applies to my own life. How many times have I been late to class, only to leave at the exact same time the following day? I wonder if the idea of “learning from the past” can be applied to other mistakes, like how I react poorly when something doesn’t go the way I think it should.
If someone says negative things about me behind my back, spiteful and angry thoughts naturally emerge. That’s normal, isn’t it?
Why do I get upset?
But becoming irritated or angry simply does not make me happy, and it never solves the problem. Instead, it makes me feel more frustrated, dissatisfied and foolish. This is because it is sin, and therefore does not please God. So why do I still get upset?
As I think back, I realize that the reason I react like this is because thoughts come that lead me to think that my happiness is determined by what goes on around me, and how I am treated. Satan knows how to make use of such thoughts, and his only intent is to steal my peace and joy. John 10:10. He wants to deceive me into believing that the problem is outside of myself. God, on the other hand, wants me to become free from the sin that dwells in my own human nature. It is actually the way I react to each situation that determines my own happiness!
In Romans 8:28 it is written, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” If I love God and seek to please Him, each temptation can be seen as an opportunity to be set free from Satan’s power over me.
The irritable and angry thoughts that come up are the lust for sin in my human nature. If I am aware that Satan tries to use these thoughts to lure me into sin, I can resist him by choosing not to give in to them and believing in God’s word instead. In James 4:7 it is written, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Choosing to resist Satan by denying the sin I am tempted to always works for my best—it’s by becoming free from that sin in my human nature that I become truly happy!
How do I not give in again?
When I see how my “normal” negative reactions have never made anything better in the past, I get a desire to do things differently. But how can I be sure that when another situation arises I do not give in again?
I need to acknowledge that these things are actually sin, repent from them, and hate them. I need to make a firm decision in my heart that I will not allow Satan to have any power over me. Then, when I realize that I am tempted to do these things that I hate, I cry out to God for help! In Hebrews 4:16 it is written, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” By going to God’s throne of grace and praying for help when I am tempted, He will be sure to give me the grace I need to resist the devil, in the time of need. That is, before I fall! He wants to help me!
Not only do I become free from the power of sin, but my human nature is replaced by something new. Where there was anger, God can create patience, where there was complaining, God can create thankfulness. My human nature is actually replaced by divine nature—eternal life! (2 Peter 1: 3-9)
My history professor’s words were wise ones, and if applied to my own life, I see that I can use the past to learn something that will be of eternal benefit for the future!