My Impulsivity Problem
But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. Acts 19:30
I’m impulsive. I feel a thing and it’s just natural for me to immediately act on that feeling without thinking of the consequences. Unfortunately, my first feeling or thought, is often unproductive, unhelpful, or downright destructive. This isn’t just about my drug use. Even in recovery, I often react impulsively to a stressor in a way that simply makes things worse.
For instance, if I’m upset by something, I’ll get out my computer and hastily pound out an angry email to those who upset me. Now, if I just hold off a few seconds and run it by my wife, she’ll encourage me to wait a day or two to send that email. After I’ve cooled down, I usually realize that sending the angry email is a bad idea, and I hit “delete” instead of “send”. I’m impulsive, and I need those around me who can just slow me down just a little, giving me time to actually think about what I’m doing.
The apostle Paul too, I believe, could be impulsive. Though he was radically obedient to the cause of Christ, he still had his flaws and I think he was a hothead. In today’s passage, his reckless nature almost got him into trouble. In the story, those who benefitted financially from the making of idols, rioted in protest of Christianity which forbade idol worship. When the incensed crowd dragged a few local Christians into the local arena, Paul – never one to back down from a confrontation – rashly headed in. Recognizing the danger, his friends and fellow disciples wisely held him back. Without Paul escalating the situation, the crowd eventually calmed down and dispersed. Paul’s friends saved him from his own impetuous nature.
Most of us are familiar with being blinded by our impulsive feelings and thoughts. It’s easy for us to see the rash behavior of others, but when under the influence of our own passion or anger, we’re blind to our self-destructive choices, often until it’s too late. We need those around us who are wise enough to see our impulsivity and who love us enough to say something. We must choose to surround ourselves with those people and, when they speak – if we want to be saved from our own self-destructive nature – we must stop and listen to them.