Have you ever thought about the fact that you yourself are the only person who decides how you are going to react in situations in your life?
Not only that, but the way you react to the things that you meet in life will decide how happy or unhappy you will be. Your reaction, and only your own reaction, will decide that.
Whatever happens to you in life, whatever others say or do, these things in themselves can’t affect your happiness or unhappiness; they can’t make your happiness more or less. Maybe this doesn’t sound right, because it is totally different from what most people think and say and feel. But it is still the truth! The more you try this, the more you will see that it is really true.
No one can make you sin!
It is very foolish to make excuses for yourself and put the blame on others. What others say or do affects their happiness, but not yours, not at all. Your own sin makes you react to things in a way that is bad for you. It is very easy to think that what others say or do has hurt you; almost everyone on earth is so sure of this - but it isn’t true.
Only when you are free from the power of sin in your life, can you react to everything in a way that will make your happiness more and not less. Only then will you be able to react to everything and everyone in such a way that you can keep the happiness you already have and that your happiness can grow.
Temptation = Opportunity
The following example shows the mistake that most people make: Someone does something evil to you. You can’t bear it, and so you also become evil. Then you reason that if the person hadn’t said or done this evil thing to you, you wouldn’t have become evil. In other words, it is the other person’s fault. When you first think of it, this sounds right, but it isn’t. In fact, it is wrong, very wrong.
The right understanding is this: The other person’s bad behaviour brought you into temptation to do evil also, and that gave you an opportunity to overcome this temptation to be evil. But instead of overcoming, you fell in the temptation. It was your own fault. The source of the problem is your own sinful nature.
It is completely wrong to say that you fell because of what the other person said or did. No, the other person’s behaviour only showed you the evil in your own human nature, that had been there all the time. You fell simply because you were not freed from the power of sin, not because of what the other person did wrong. You reacted in the wrong way, the usual, sinful way, and it was totally unnecessary. You could have reacted in a godly way. You could have overcome this evil in yourself! You had a wonderful opportunity, but you failed to make use of it.
It is wrong to think that you cannot help to become evil when someone else has been evil to you. That is completely wrong! Of course, as long as you are evil, it is true that you will react in an evil way and you cannot do otherwise. But you can become free from always reacting in this way to things. Just read the third letter of John in the New Testament!
Reactions – leading to life or death
Eve could have reacted differently; she could have told the snake that they were very happy with everything just as it was, so there was no need at all to eat of the forbidden fruit. Then there would not have been a “fall” and the bad conscience that came afterwards. They also wouldn’t have been sent away from the Garden of Eden, and there wouldn’t have been sickness or death on earth.
If Adam had reacted differently, he would have said No to Eve’s offer to eat of the forbidden fruit, and sin would not have come into the world through him.
If Jesus had reacted differently—if He had, for example, been righteous in everything He did but had been completely unwilling to suffer unjustly — then there wouldn’t have been a payment for our sins or salvation for any of us. He would have remained together with His Righteous Father, and all of us would have been lost. How wonderful that He chose the way that He did!!
You can have an immovable joy
By suffering unjustly, you can also win other souls whom you would not otherwise be able to win. To argue about your rights, demand them, or to accuse your fellow man is a very foolish and dangerous way of life. Instead, you can react in each situation in such a way that you can keep your joy, no matter how things or people are.
If a man had very little food, this in itself could not take away his joy. But to be unhappy and complain about what he has and to demand to have it better and have more will make him unhappy! The same will happen if he starts to have evil thoughts about those who have more than he has. Without any doubt, your way of reacting to things decides your happiness in life—nothing else. This is a simple but wonderful truth!
If you believe that God guides everything perfectly, you will also firmly believe and trust that everything that happens is for your very best. Then, of course, you can also be glad about everything that happens. What deep and sincere care God has for you! How faithfully He watches over you!
Trusting God even in tragedy
What is the best way to react to injury and death? These areas are actually the same as any other. To be able to react in a godly way, you must have become godly. An ungodly person reacts in an ungodly way, whereas the godly person reacts in a godly way. In other words, to react in the right way, you first need to be saved from the demands, accusations, unbelief etc. that live in your human nature.
The Bible says, “Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has planned it?” Amos 3:6 (NLT). “Aren't two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. Even the hairs of your head are all counted.” Matthew 10:29-30 (CEB). When we think about the fact that God knows what is best for us, we also have to believe that even if something very sad or unwanted happens, it is still the best that things happened as they did. And who would dare to go against what an all-wise, all-good God thinks is best?
But you can only react in this way if you have completely stopped trusting in your own reasoning and understanding. God must also have changed you so much that you have become humble and meek, and completely surrendered to God. Then you will keep that deep, inner peace and rest under all circumstances, no matter how painful the situations might be.
And if any of your loved ones gets into serious trouble, or falls away from God, it is natural to think, “Oh, if only I had been able to stop this from happening!” But if you understand that God Himself—whose love is perfect—has not stopped it, you can be at rest in God, even in a very painful situation, even though the sorrow is very, very great. For, as it’s written in the Bible, even with all our worry, we cannot make one of our hairs black or white.
May this wonderful truth always be clear and alive for us—namely, that our own reaction is the only thing that decides our happiness!