Peter has always been my favorite disciple for a few reasons. He just somehow seemed more like a real person than the others. That could be partly because we hear so much from him during Jesus’ time on earth. Peter was pretty outspoken and seemed to do everything from his heart, not necessarily using his brain first in most situations. I can relate.
You would think that the more Peter got to know Jesus, the more he would stop and think before reacting, but his emotions were always right on the surface. If you look back on his story, you can see time and time again when he leaped before looking. Jesus actually had to rebuke him at one point because he wasn’t thinking before he spoke. (Matthew 16:23) Peter was the one who jumped out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. He didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet at the Last Supper, and then went overboard and said, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:9). Oh, Peter. Then his crazy, drastic reaction of cutting off the high priest’s servant’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane, and turning around and denying knowing Jesus THREE times in quick succession. All were immediate responses without stopping to think. Jesus had even warned him about the denials! Even after the resurrection, Peter is the one to jump out of the boat and swim to shore when Jesus calls to them. He didn’t even wait to help his friends pull in all the fish they caught. (John 21:7)
After Jesus ascends to heaven, Peter finally seems to be listening to the Holy Spirit more than his own heart and thoughts. He becomes outspoken for God instead of himself. He is bold to speak the Truth rather than what he feels or thinks in the moment. What a wonderful change. Not that Peter was suddenly perfect. It did take three times for the vision of eating “impure or unclean” animals to sink in. (Acts 10:9-16) There were an awful lot of “threes” for dear Peter.
How often do we react before we stop and think? I have said multiple times that the backspace key is my friend on social media. So often I have started typing something angrily, then slammed the backspace key down for each letter I’ve written. Most of the time I’ve calmed down by then and can just move on. But sometimes it keeps bugging me. It is so easy to react to what someone has said or even post something ourselves without thinking it through.
When we are praying consistently and completely immersing ourselves in God’s Word, it is easier to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Unfortunately, the majority of us have to work on this every single day and sometimes every single hour. Life always presents challenges, and it is our responsibility to react as God has commanded us.
In this time of constant uncertainty, it is easy to react quickly. We are worried, stressed, and utterly exhausted. We feel empty with nothing left to give, and our responses can reflect that. Jesus reminds us that we don’t have to carry these burdens on our own. (Matthew 11:28-30) We need to let them go and fill up on the good things. How are you filling up your life so that what spills out is God’s love?