Coping Series: The Fight Response
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, KJV)
Picking up where we left off last week, there are three classic behavioral responses that all biological organisms have: fight, flight, and freeze. The fight response represents the present action we follow, acknowledging an issue and addressing it head-on. Jesus portrayed much of this during His time on earth. He spoke directly to people's illnesses, the Pharisees, and even Satan himself. But Jesus wants us to fight the right way: His way.
Since we live in a sinful human state, we make mistakes on the regular. In moments when we are tired of dealing with attitudes and negativity, it becomes easy to justify acting out in our own way. When we give ourselves a reason to fight, it becomes easy for us to use that same reason to fight unrefined. What this means, is that our action is directed to the “flesh and blood” of our immediate situation or environment, and not where God wants it to be.
God wants our righteous focus to be in two places in moments of conflict: on ourselves or on others. Majority of the time, I have found in my own experiences, that we need to first fight against our own flesh, our own desires, and our own instinct before we can truly respond to our direct environment. As we respond to our environment, we can examine ourselves by knowing that the condition of our heart is reflected in our actions. When we are defensive, or in the midst of a direct attack, our flesh’s carnality is in control. Therefore, our first fight must be within.
So how do we fight ourselves?
Growing up, I often found myself in situations fueled by anger, wrath, and altogether short fuses. I’ve always had to remember that God's word says to be quick to listen, slow to wrath, and to walk in righteous anger; where we are angry, but choose not to sin. During my time focusing on what God says about coping, I have had to ask myself these questions:
Are there times in my life where I find myself in a tough place and want to mouth off?
Are there times where I use a power of manipulation to get what I want?
Are there moments where I know that there is a better way to handle what’s going on, but it’s easier to act in a way that feels best to me and not God?
These questions moved me. They helped me find out that using the fight response carnally could also include negative mechanisms of coping like dark humor, projecting onto others, self-deprecation, doubt, and even self-sabotage. But God is good, and He gives us tactics to not fall into these seemingly harmless, yet destructive habits. Asking these questions and knowing our initial coping mechanisms are the first step in the fight.
At the end of the day, we have to remember that the condition of our heart for God is what matters most. If we feel attacked or want to fight with someone at work, at school, at home, or even while driving, we need to keep in mind this question: Is the way I am responding going to produce positivity and growth between Jesus and I?
Jesus gets angry and uses it to change the world. How are we using this emotion, this God-given instinct? Are we using it as a passion to cause a change in others, or are we only self-motivated? “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32, NKJV) And when you’re confronted with the desire to fight or respond carnally, remember Romans 13:10, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
And this: the second step in the fight, is to apply the desire of Christ by speaking His word. When we say and do the wrong things purposefully, we have to remember that life and death are in the power of the tongue. What we say matters. So fight with the Word of God and cope using the Word of God.
Jesus wants us to be a light; to help bring change to others who are in darkness. As we learn to cope, we start to learn that meditating on God’s will brings peace. And as we learn to fight, we must use the Word.
We have to change the way others perceive us. We have to be a light, a beacon of what Christ looks like. We have to be malleable to the Holy Spirit so that we can bring God's love to the outer fighting places and the inner coping places.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians, 6:12, KJV)
Today, I’m challenging you to think about how you cope when you default to the fight response.
Remember the power you’ve grown in you thus far. Reflect on your actions and look at the places you have already changed for the better. Take it a step further and take the time to write them down. Doing this will help; it will provide motivation through the direct words of your own testimony.
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