Reactions Speak Louder Than Words ● Part 1 | "Cause and Defect"

Did you know that our actions rarely tell the whole story? It’s our reactions that do… so what do your reactions say about you?

NOTE: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, or word usage.

So here's something that always causes us to stop and stare, perhaps at times, duck and run for cover, and it's an over-reaction. An over-reaction, you've seen this, you've seen people over-reacting to something and you just have to stop and stare, in fact, somebody might say, "Don't stare, just listen." It's when somebody over- reacts, it always gets our attention. It's typically... Or something we've all experienced is the parent in the grocery store or at the mall who's over-disciplining their child because the child has embarrassed the parent and the child embarrassed the parent by acting like a child, and now the parent is acting like a child, and they're over-disciplining, they're over- reacting and it's just... You don't know whether you wanna rescue the child or get your phone out and just post it somewhere.

And when you see somebody over-reacting or what you consider as an over-reaction, we always think the same thing, we generally think, "Wow, there must be something else going on," right? Because that cause did not warrant that effect, it's like, "Here's what happened, but here's how they're reacting, they're over-reacting." If your parents were over-reactors, you can remember, or maybe you're still kind of getting over the damage that that did to your relationship with your parents, they just over-reacted to everything they thought, and some of you are parents now, so you understand this, your parents thought that they were coaching and correcting and you thought, they've lost it, right? And consequently, you sort of got lost.

 You just, you withdrew, you could not wait to get out of that and get out of there. And again, it damaged the relationship, on the flip side, we've all had our moments where we have damaged a relationship potentially or strained a relationship because of our emotional outburst, I mean, your latest apology may have been a follow-up to an unwarranted outburst of emotion, and you were right, what you were saying to the person was right, but you weren't right the right way. Have you ever not been right the right way? You were over-right. Have you ever been over-right, like you're right, but you're kind of over-right. In fact, you're so over-right, that your rightness overrode the point you were trying to make, and you had to circle back around and apologize even though you're right.

 So the point of all this, and this isn't where we're going for the next few weeks, but it is interesting, we can learn a lot about ourselves by our reactions, by monitoring our reactions, you monitor your reactions, you learn a lot about yourself because, and I'm the same way, but I'm picking on you, you are so predictable. I mean, we are all so predictable when it comes to our reaction to certain environments, certain words, certain types of people, certain names, they trigger us. When you hear, "You're just like your mother," that's not an emotionally neutral statement, is it? And you're just like... It's not like, "You know what, you're right. Now I know what to work on. Thanks for... " No, and you're just like your dad, why can't you be more like your sister? Why don't you get a job? Why don't you grow up? Why can't you be more responsible?

So here's the point, here's where we're going for the next few weeks, what if, but what if, but what if, what if there was a way to harness the power of a reaction or even an over-reaction for something good, and what if there was a way to harness the power of reaction for something good? And Jesus says there is a way, and Jesus says we can do it. In fact, Jesus says we should do it. And as we're gonna discover today, and as we're gonna unpack for the next couple of weeks, this is not extra credit Christianity as we're gonna discover. This is fundamental, this is 101, this is what it looks like and sounds like, and reacts like to follow Jesus, that Jesus is going to insist, and these are my words, not his.

 He's gonna insist that we master the art of the unexpected, unprecedented under-reaction, the unexpected, unprecedented under-reaction, it's so under that it's over or appears to be an over-reaction in the other direction, it's the art of who would say that in light of what just happened? Who would do that in light of the way he or she has just been treated? So we're gonna refer to this as the art of the over-under-reaction, okay? This is what we're gonna talk about, we're gonna master the over-under-reaction that we are gonna So under-react to some things that it will feel like an over-reaction and cause people to stop and stare and go, "What is up with him?" Now as you're gonna discover it as well, this is gonna create some tension.

 Jesus consistently, Jesus consistently viewed being treated unjustly, being treated unfairly and being treated unkindly as an opportunity, an opportunity to react in such a way that people stop and stare because they're caught off-guard, because they recognize that cause, that cause didn't warrant that effect, that cause didn't warrant that effect. That person, did you see what happened to him... He should be angry. He's not. Did you see what happened to her, she should be so bitter, but she's not.

See, you've heard it said. We've all heard it said that actions speak louder than words, but the truth is reactions, reactions speak louder than either. Reactions speak louder than either... Our actions... And this is true of all of us, I am not picking on you, this is true of all of us, our actions just don't tell our whole story, our actions only tell part of our story because we all know how to behave when it serves us well. But you know when things don't go our way, you better get out of the way, right? When something or somebody gets in our way, you better get out of our way, because when things don't go our way, that's when all the niceness begins to wear off, and that's when what's on the inside comes out.

That's when cause and effect goes into effect. We look and we sound, and this is Jesus' point, that if we're not careful, we look and we sound and we react just like everybody else, and here's what Jesus is about to tell us, and I'm kind of setting you up 'cause his words are so strong, his point is this, When we sound... For those of us who claim to be Jesus' followers, when we sound and react like everybody else, we sound and react like everybody else, and there's no distinction, and when that happens, from our savior's perspective, we miss our opportunity because... And you know this from your favorite novel, your favorite series, the favorite story that you tell that you've seen play out in real life, unexpected reactions isn't this true? Unexpected reactions are often what make the stories we're telling worth telling. So I'm gonna give you some samples from the teaching of Jesus.

 Here's kind of a quick overview of sampling from one single message, Jesus' famous mountain message, where he is so specific about how his followers are supposed, not just to act, but to react when things don't go our way, because our reactions speak louder than our words and our reactions expose whose we truly are. So here we go, you've heard it said, and we have heard it said, you've heard it said for eye for eye and tooth for tooth. To which we say, "We don't even need to hear this said, this is just how the world works," right? Common sense, you do unto others as they do unto you, that's what's expected. In fact, nobody's even surprised when somebody does unto another person, what that person has done unto them, in fact, not only are they not surprised, people will cheer you on if you do unto somebody else what they've done unto you, especially if you win. Jesus is like, I know, but I tell you, because I want you to follow me.But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. Now, this is where it could be easy for us to misunderstand what Jesus is saying, Jesus is not talking about self-defense, self-defense is instinctive, protection, this is important, protection is not the same as retaliation.

Jesus is talking about retaliation, he's saying, I don't want you to react to people who are cruel to you and people who consider you an enemy, I don't want you to react to evil people in an evil way, I don't want you to be reciprocal, I don't want you to treat unto other people the way they have treated you, I don't want you to act or react like everybody else, if you do, he says, it's a missed opportunity, and we've all seen this play out, we've all seen a situation where somebody has something coming to them, and the person that could bring it to them decides not to bring it to them, they don't react in like kind. In fact, they go the opposite direction and it's like, "Wow, it's inspiring." He goes on, he says this, "If anyone... " And here's an idiom.

 This is where this idiom comes from in our English language. "If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." We've all heard, turn the other cheek. This is where that comes from. That came from Jesus,if you've ever said, "Turn the other cheek," you're quoting Jesus. Now, what we miss here is this, Jesus is not saying if someone attacks you physically, you just stand there and let them beat the living whatever out of you. That's not the point. In fact, everybody in the first century here heard Jesus say this, knew exactly what he's talking about, it is why he used the word right cheek, because most people are right-handed, and if somebody who's right- handed slaps somebody or hits somebody on the right cheek, they didn't hit them with an open palm, they came across this way and to hit them with the back of the hand, which is a representation of being disrespectful to somebody, or dismissive to somebody, it's not an attack, it's an insult, it was a way of trying, to get somebody to rise to the occasion, to come back at them the way they had come at them, and Jesus is saying when people try to bait you into that kind of conflict, when people try to get you to rise to the occasion to match their level of anger, match their emotion, match whatever is going on with him.

He says, "No, not my followers." This is your opportunity, you are to over-under-react turn the other cheek, I'm not gonna rise to the occasion, say whatever you want toward me, but I'm not gonna be like you back to you because I am a Jesus follower, and then, he says this, and if someone... Or if anyone forces you to go one mile. You go with them two miles. Now, to us, it's like we can imagine what he's talking about, but his original audience knew exactly what he was talking about, he was referencing, he was referencing compulsory public service, compulsory public service, that in this culture, a temple leader, a political leader, any kind of a person of wealth and power, even a Roman centurion, a Roman officer, in some cases, a Roman soldier, could come to the average citizen where Rome occupied a city or occupied a region, could come to the average citizen and force the citizen to stop whatever it was they were doing and serve that person for a specific amount of time, or if it involved carrying a load or carrying something, they could force that person, this was legal, it was subject to abuse, it was... People were so resentful.

You just immediately had a bad attitude, you just never made eye contact with public officials or temple officials or Roman soldiers, because you never knew when they were gonna stop you and say, "Hey, put down what you're doing and help me," and they could force you, they could force you to go, in our English New Testament, it says a mile, but literally in the Greek, it's a distance of about a thousand paces or a thousand steps, so Jesus says if someone requires... And again, this wasn't just anyone, this is someone who is really abusing, in some way, their authority, this is somebody that you're not on good terms with, this is not somebody who's asking you to help them move and you're like, not only will I help you move, I'll help you do something else. This isn't that. That's different. This  is immediately, everything in you is gonna bristle and think, "Oh, I don't like this person, I don't wanna do this." He says if you find yourself in this situation and you are recruited against your will to serve a public servant, I want you to not only go a thousand paces, I want you to offer to go 2000 paces, at the end of a thousand paces, you say, "Hey, I'm willing to go further."

 I'm willing to go another thousand paces. Now, He didn't stop, he didn't let up. He says, oh yeah, and here's something else I want you to give to the one who ask you, whoever it is. And do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Now, he's talking specifically about the relationship of people with stuff... To the people who don't have stuff, he's talking specifically about people who have extra and the poor. They lived close to each other, These groups weren't separated. Their circles overlapped. And Jesus says, and here's his point, whatever the norm is, in terms of giving, whatever the norm is, in terms of generosity, whatever the normal arrangement is, in terms of borrowing and lending. I want you to be so generous and to approach generosity in such a way that people are like, "Wait, seriously, are you sure?" Jesus says, "Yeah, this is how I want you to live, if you're gonna follow me," to which again, we say, "This is so impractical and is it even necessary? Nobody lives like that." And he's not through, you've heard it said, again, we've all heard this. You've heard it said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy, which meant basically, like your friends, and don't like the people who aren't your friends. Love the people who you get along with, love the people like you, because they're like you and they like you and the people who don't like you, you just don't like them back. An enemy is anyone who's hostile towards you, in the neighborhood at work, maybe an extended family member.

 He says, you've heard that... You like the people that like you and you dislike the people that don't like you to which again, we're like, "Does anybody even need to say that?" I mean, isn't that just what you do? He says, but I tell you, I'm raising the bar, but I tell you, here it is, love your enemy, which means you are to treat your enemy as if they're not your enemy. That's what that means.

 And not only that, get this, this is so convicting, and pray for those who persecute you. Now, let me just say what you thought and so you don't have to say it out loud and be embarrassed. You don't even pray for most of the people that you like, do you, right? I mean, he's saying, "Hey, I want you to add to your prayer list of people who persecute you."

You're like, who would do that? And Jesus would say yeah, who would do that? Who lives this way? Who approaches life in relationships this way? Now he tells, this is... Now he's getting down, because we're like, "This is just too much." And now he tells us why this is essential. What comes next? Here's what he's about to do. He's about to separate the believers from the followers. He's about to separate the Christians from the followers. He's about to separate the people who cause others to stop and stare and wonder what is up with him. What is up with her? Listen to how he finishes this out. You've heard it said, love your neighbor and hate those, hate your enemy. Well, I tell you love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. That, in other words, here's the result. Here's what happens at the end of that. Here's what happens if you do all this, that as a result, you may be children of your father in heaven. In other words, he says, the reason I want you to do this is so that you will reflect your father in heaven, that you will reflect the character and the nature of your father in heaven. Reacting this way makes us like our father in heaven.

 It positions us relationally and visibly to reflect what our father in heaven is like. Now here's what I say to you all the time. I say, "Hey, if you wanna know what God is like, you follow  Jesus through the gospels. The question that Jesus is posing is this, how is everybody else gonna know what the father is like, if you're gonna follow me, I want you to live your life in such a way that people look at you and they catch a glimpse, just a glimpse of what God, their father is like because you as his son and you as his daughter, so reflect the character and nature of the father, they catch a glimpse of the father when they catch a glimpse of you and the best way for them to understand what the father is like is not through you being polite and being kind and being a good citizen.

 It's by your over under-reaction when things don't go your way. Oh. And then he comes at the same idea, a little different angle. Okay. And then he's going right to the heart of what he... The point he's trying to make, he's making. He says, if you, here it is again, another one of those closes. If you, if you love those who love you, what... Here's the key word. 'Cause this is where he is taking this. What recognition will you get? He's saying, look, I want you to be recognized for something. But if you just love those who love you, what recognition will you get? I mean, here's something you've never said. She just loves her friends. So well, she just loves the people who love her. That's amazing. Isn't she amazing? She loves the people who love her. That's amazing. I wanna be more like that, He's like that doesn't stand out. Nobody's gonna stop and stare. Nobody's gonna pause and wonder. This is expected. Right? And then if you're not sure that's the point he is making. He illustrates it. He says, come on. Are not even the tax collectors doing that. Translated. Think for a minute and no elbows, no eye contact. And don't write this down and please don't say it out loud.

 I want you to think for a minute of the group of people or the category of people, you have the least respect for. I know for some of you it's pastors. I know. That's why I didn't want you to say it out loud. Okay. [laughter] Alright. So think about the group of people you have the least respect for. Jesus is saying, look, even that group, get along with the people that get along with them. Even that group of people are friendly to their friends. So simply doing for others who do for you and being like the people that like you and that you like, that doesn't stand out. I want you to be recognized for something extraordinary. And this is what's so amazing. He's given us, he's given us the key. Your reactions, your reactions should give you away. Your reactions should be a dead giveaway for whose son and whose daughter you are.

 And then if... We're not done yet, one more push on the flywheel. And if you welcome, and if you welcome only your own people, if you welcome only your own people, you know what? You have your people. I have my people. I mean, my people like me, my people get along with me. When I'm with my people, ah, I can just be myself and relax. He says, but if you only welcome, if you are only comfortable with, if you only surround yourself with your own people and then here it is, if you haven't been paying attention, don't miss this part. If you're only gonna welcome your own people, here's what he's about to say next. This is the difference that makes a difference. Ready? If you only welcome your own people, what are you doing more than others? You see, more than isn't expected, more than is unusual.

 More than stands out. The extra mile, stands out, loving your enemy, stands out, not reciprocating and like kind, that stands out. Not doing evil for evil. That stands out. Praying for your enemies. Befriending your... All of this stands out. He says, I want you to stand out. Not simply in the normal routine behavior of life. Everybody knows how to behave when it suits their purposes. I want you to look for those opportunities when things don't go your way, when you're treated unkindly, when you're treated unjustly.. And before you instinctively react, I want you to ask this question. What would it look like in this moment to react like my father. Think about this. Okay. This is the gospel. Think about how our heavenly father. Let's just make it personal. Think about how your heavenly reacted to your sin, knowing what you would do, knowing what you wouldn't do, knowing the promises that you would break. Knowing the lies that we would tell, knowing the harm that we would inflict on others and then not take responsibility for it. Right? Knowing the excuses we would make when we're caught, knowing the secrets we would keep, knowing the selfishness we would embrace, with all of that. He is the heavenly father who responded to who reacted to our sin and our sinfulness by what, by sending his son, by sending us a king. Jesus, the king, think about this, the king who reacted to our sin by what, by dying for it, so that he could pay for it.

 That he came looking for us, that he came looking for us to forgive us, to include us, to call us his sons and his daughter so that we could call him with a clear conscience, Our heavenly father. Jesus says, this is why I want you to react this way, because this is how your heavenly father reacted to you. And I want you to reflect the nature of God, not in moral perfection, not in ethical perfection, because we're gonna fall short. But in those moments, when you are mistreated, in those moments where you're tempted to react in like kind, those are your opportunities to respond to others as your heavenly father responded to you.

 So it makes sense that Jesus commands us to react toward others the way he reacted toward us, to see slight and hurt and rejection as opportunities, opportunities to amaze and to confound. Opportunities to appropriately draw attention to ourselves so we can draw attention to our father in heaven. Jesus said it this way, we've quoted this so many times. He said, "Come on. I want you to let your light shine in such a way that people see something." I want you to let your life, your light shine in such a way that people see your good deeds and they glorify your father in heaven. I want people to stop and stare. So at the end of the day, they would find themselves gazing in my direction. So here's what we're gonna do. This is where it's gonna get fun. Alright. And for those of you watching, and maybe you're not church person or you're with us and you're not a person of faith and somebody's gonna feed you lunch or bribe you to get here, this is an all skate. This is something we can all do.

We're all gonna practice this week. Okay. We're gonna practice the art of the strategic over under- reaction. And we're gonna practice at home. Okay. We're not gonna go out to work. I don't think you're ready for that. We gotta take some baby steps. Okay. Don't try this in the neighborhood. Don't try this at work or with your friends. We're gonna practice at home because this is new. Okay. And this is rather extreme. So here's what I want you to do. And the first part of the assignment is so easy and so fun. I want you, and again, no elbows. No, okay. This is just you. I want you to choose something or think about something that happens on a regular basis at home. Okay. Something that happens on a regular basis at home that perturbs you, disturbs you upsets you and gets you on your nerves.

That's the easy part. Only one, only one. Okay. And this can't be a person, okay. This can't be a person. [laughter] This has to be a thing. It has to be a thing. Like every time you get home from work, she or he, as soon as you get home from school, your mother always. So it's not your mother. It's this thing that she does. It's not your husband. It's this thing that he says, okay, ... then I want you to think about your normal reaction. Okay? And it's... Let's just assume you're a great person. It is a justified reaction, but it's a reaction and it is so predictable. And then I want you to ask this question. It's a terrifying question. So you got the thing that gets on your nerves. You know what your normal response is, your normal reaction. Then I want you to ask this question. What would amazing look like? What would amazing sound like?

 To go back to Jesus words, What would like my father in heaven look like or sound like? What [chuckle] parents, what would cause your son or daughter to wonder who stole my father and replaced him with this kind man? Who stole my mother and replaced her with this patient woman? What happened to my parents? Kids, I want you to come up with an amazing response that causes your parents to wonder if you're up to something or perhaps on something. [laughter] Okay. Now my point is I want you now to think about that thing that kind of gets on your nerves. Maybe it deserves to, maybe it doesn't.

 I want you to think about your normal response. And I want you to think about a response that would be like, "Oh my goodness, what happened to him? What? Who stole the body?" Right? Or if you wanna, again, I think couching it in Jesus terms is great. Even if you're not a Jesus follower, what would look like? What would sound like? What would react like my father in heaven. So let's look for an opportunity to go the extra mile, like our father in heaven, because you know what this is really? This is just rinse, wash and rinse. This is just repeat. This is just recycling Jesus new covenant command. His new covenant command was this. We talk about it all the time. He said to his followers, "Look, let me make it simple for you. I want you to love other people the way I've loved you."

I want you to love others. A new command I give you, love one another, not, uh, uh, new command I give you. It's new, new command I give you. I want you to love others the way I have loved you. This is just that. But Jesus says, your greatest opportunity, my greatest opportunity to love others, especially the people that don't love us, the greatest opportunity we have to make a difference, to be a more than, to be a stop and stare is when things don't go our way because people know how they would react. And your heavenly father has invited you. And Jesus has commanded us to respond to others as our heavenly father responded to us, like our father in heaven. Then, he says, you will be sons and daughters of your father in heaven. So let's practice at home and we'll pick it up there next time in part two of reactions speak louder than words.

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