Reacting vs. Responding

Recently I attended an event where some local artist’s displayed their best work, each one had unique qualities and all of them were good. Some things I liked better about one than the other, and some I didn’t care for at all, but it was fun to see people’s talent on display. 

One piece in particular was really very striking, it was also bold, loud and big. I don’t think many people could deny the quality of the work but for some it might have been too over the top. I was  looking it over and started a conversation with the artist. I asked him a few questions, he was a little eccentric so his answers were quirky and funny but somewhere along the way our conversation took a turn and I didn’t like it, I keep thinking about it. 

The artist overheard people mention that while the piece was beautiful, it was not for them.   Altogether, most people liked it. He then went on to explain that one person in particular thought it was way too over the top. The artist thought that while the way they remarked about the piece wasn’t necessarily mean, it certainly got the point across that they didn’t really approve. The part that bothered me was more the way the artist described the situation. He was clearly on the defensive about the person’s comments.  So, in order for it to appear that the artist was right, and the other person wrong, he began to describe the person who made the negative statement. He started out by mentioning appearance, then moved on to their socioeconomic class (assumed) and ended with how terrible the behavior of the children that accompanied them were. And that bothered me.

I kept going back to the conversation in my head days after the event was over.  I kept wondering why it bothered me so much and why did I care?  At this point I am not completely sure what riled me up more, the fact that he tore the person down in order to build up and justify himself, and that by doing so decided that he was better than the other person. Or is it that I know I am guilty of doing the same thing. And if I was bothered by the way he spoke of that person, have I caused others to be put off by my attitude of certain people? 

I have read some books over the last few months and in more than one of them the author talked about responding to people rather than reacting. This is easier said than done. That little thing, or in some cases big thing, called pride does not want us to respond; pride wants us to react! In my experience when I react quickly to a situation, I usually end up regretting my words or actions. It’s hard though, to not look down on someone because of the way they made you feel.  It’s hard not to “prove” that you are better because of the way your life looks compared to theirs. To not take note of appearance and make judgements based from it, but the Bible is pretty clear about how we are to treat people:


Excerpt from James 2:

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made a distinction among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?…. “If however you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, you shall love your neighbor as yourself,”… you are doing well.”




Gulp. Sigh. Repent. 

That’s me, I do that, I show partiality, I judge and I jump to conclusions too quickly. I’m pretty sure God is trying to teach me something given that this has been a theme in my life for a few months now. I am so thankful that He is God and I am not. I am thankful that rather than react to my short comings, He is responding to me by breaking my heart for what breaks His. He is teaching me how to see people as He does; as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Reminding me that He loves people, all people, no more or less than He loves me.