Act don’t react is a core proverb I follow. In studying history, particularly church history, I found people tend to react more than act. This often causes an unbalance or defining yourself as what you’re not vs what you are. Acting means to operate and explain who you are. Given my feeds lighting up with the “Strange Fire” conference, here are my thoughts to illustrate the proverb:
People don’t respond well do a direct assault.
Carefronting is done best from the side door because it focuses on relationships. Rather than set up a conference as a reaction to something, set it up to promote who you are. As such you teach truth and through that you can also rightly critique in error movements. Direct assaults, particularly in today’s culture, can inhibit your point.
Love really does matter!
Can the what about truth, what about sin garbage! If those were your first two thoughts, serious time needs to be spent in 1 Corinthians 13. Love does not equal being wishy-washy. What love focuses on is making a difference, not a point. The cross wasn’t pleasant, easy, or wishy-washy, but it was love. People who often here love and then think “what about truth, what about sin” often want to make a point and not a difference.
Paul instructs Timothy to guard his doctrine AND his speech. Speaking truth wrongly is sin just as teaching false doctrine is sin. Jesus made a joke about this scenario, something about removing a log from our own eye. We ACT based on what we BELIEVE. Bad rhetoric stems from a bad belief system. Further, bad rhetoric inhibits your goal. Stating “well, I’m standing for the truth” is no excuse. Rhetoric should first promote who you are.
Ministry is messy! Acting vs reacting is grueling, hard, and takes time. It is not clean cut, often doesn’t get you accolades, but it is what the Spirit teaches us. I’ll let Paul speak to this:
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
God has a plan, and we’re not God.
The story of Joseph makes this point well in Genesis 37-50. God’s plan will not be thwarted, even by our own mistakes! We’re not God, and while we’re called to guard our doctrine and speak truth, we should ACT on that vs react to other movements. Gently guiding and teaching people about is avoids the egg-shell walk. It also demonstrates class. Finally, it demonstrates humility by letting God be God. After all, God is the one who brings people to repentance.
The bottom line:
Act, don’t react!