Eliminate The Negative. . .Accentuate The Positive

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Good evening and welcome to SUNDAY NITE LIVE. 

I’m Harold Herring and that’s my fine wife, Bev.

If you’re hearing our voices…chances are you’ve been the brunt of someone’s negative observations or rants in days gone by.

Perhaps you’ve even been a bit negative yourself.   No worry your secret is safe with me.  Besides you’ve probably already repented for being a nattering nabob of negativism.

I’ve been shown seven habits or behavior patterns which should not be a part of your life. . .if you want to maximize your potential and productivity for the Kingdom of God.

# 1     Stop rationalizing temper tantrums.

Have you ever heard someone justify pitching a fit (I believe that more accurately describes temper tantrum) by saying. . .

“I’ve always had a temper.  I got it from my Dad.  It’s just the way I am.”

Throwing a temper tantrum is the what you do. . .because you’ve been unwilling to change your behavior patterns and take control of your emotions.

Some folks blame their genes. . .claiming their temper tantrum is hereditary.  That excuse might have worked when you were two or three. . .but not as an adult.

Proverbs 14:17 says:

“He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.”

A lack of discipline may have contributed to your temper tantrums as a child. . .but you as you grow older you choose how you act and react.

You can continue the temper tantrums and be what Proverbs 14:17 in the Classic Amplified Bible says is:

“He who foams up quickly and flies into a passion deals foolishly. . .”

Whether a person controls their temper or not. . .is a choice.

Proverbs 16:32 in the New Living Translation says:

“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.”

Here’s the bottom line and it’s found in James 1:20 in the Classic Amplified Bible which says:

“For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].”

Temper tantrums are one negative to eliminate from your life. . .if you ever want to accentuate the positive.

# 2     Male Pattern Baldness

In this case. . .I’m not referring to your having a lack of hair. . .but rather a head that is lacking wisdom and empathy.

Have you heard supervisors or other people who laid waste to a co-worker or friend by simply said “I was just being bold with them.”  There is a HUGE difference between being bold and being rude.

Sadly, some people say what they’re thinking without really thinking about the consequences of the words they’re speaking.

We’ve always taught our children to think before they speak.  Just because something pops in your head doesn’t mean it should pop out of your mouth.

I frequently quote Ephesians 4:29 in the Classic Amplified Bible. . .but there is a reason for it.  It contains life-changing, bondage-breaking, yoke-destroying, mountain-moving power words.  It’s one scripture. . .I’m convinced we can never hear too often.  It says:

“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.”

One final scripture which I’m convinced can be effectively used to overcome all seven points in the teaching.  I strongly suggest you read and re-read it.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

5 It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].”

# 3     Reaction Reflexes Create Relational Ruts

There is a medical condition called acid reflex which can be quite annoying to deal with.  With this aliment . . .one of the remedies is to alter your diet.

Many people also suffer from reaction reflex. . .which is not a medical but a mental condition or more probably a spiritual condition. . .which causes people to react the same way in every condition.

This negative behavior happens way too frequently in marriages.  Because of past patterns some husbands and wives assume they know how their spouse will react in a given situation. . .so they react to that perceived behavior the way they always have never considering the spouse or situation may have changed.

Over time and not a long period of time. . .couples can fall into a relational rut instead of developing a fresh perspective which gives your spouse the benefit of the doubt.

Unfortunately, many of reaction reflexes are based on trigger words or phrases . . . which cause the same emotional response.

“It’s never your fault.”

“If you hadn’t spent all that money.”

“She’s just a friend I can talk to.”

“You never listen to me.”

“I can’t do anything to please you.”

And the list could on and on and on.

One of the ways to eliminate these trigger phrases and reaction reflexes is to purpose in your heart. . .to forget past mistakes and ask God to help you look at every situation and conversation with fresh eyes and a fresh heart.

Here’s the best way to get out of any reactional reflexes and relational rut.

James 5:16 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”

Be encouraged and overcome every negative thought, emotion and reaction with the words of Isaiah 43:18-19 in the Classic Amplified Bible which says:

“Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

# 4     Never Assume Anything

I really don’t remember the first time I heard what the word assume means when hyphenated … or rather what it reveals a person to be. 

But, I’ve always remembered that ‘bit of human interpretation’ because it makes me hesitate to use the word ‘assume.’ 

And if you don’t know what I’m referring to. . .you won’t hear it from me . . . because it’s not a proper thing to say. . .even though there is some truth in it.

Words are powerful. . .but sometimes words mean different things to different people.

I remember reading some time back about an elementary school teacher from Texas who was reviewing the weekly vocabulary words with her students.

When she asked her students what does pause mean. . .one little girl immediately popped up her hand and I said, “I know, teacher. . .I know.”

With obvious delight, the little girl said that pause is the button on the cable TV remote which allows you to stop your TV show or DVD to answer the phone or go eat dinner.

That’s probably not the answer the teaching was hoping for. . .but it definitely reflected the little girl’s experience and the effect of popular culture on our children.

As you talk with people. . .you will assume or perhaps judge what you think the other person is saying or more correctly, means based on your past experience with that person and more probably your experiences in life.

Isaiah 11:3 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

“And shall make Him of quick understanding, and His delight shall be in the reverential and obedient fear of the Lord. And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, neither decide by the hearing of His ears.”

In order to eliminate negative thoughts about others. . .you need to openly and calmly communicate to determine exactly what the person thinks so both of you are reading the same sheet of music. . .so to speak.

Lately, one of my favorite scriptures has become James 1:19 in the Classic Amplified Bible which could be quoted in several of the areas we’ve already discussed.  Here’s what it says:

Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.”

Personalize this verse and its seven key points as a daily exhortation to you.

# 5     Stop Kicking The Cat

You are the only one who can determine the kind of day you’re going to have. Did you understand what I’m saying? It’s because you’re the one who will make it a positive or negative experience.  Only you can choose to allow other people to affect your day.

You decide whether you will be kicking the cat or not.

Samuel wakes up late because he forgot to turn on the alarm clock.  He grabs a cup of coffee on his way out of the house.  Samuel spills the coffee on his white shirt because someone made a sudden stop in front of him.   Fearing he will be late to work Samuel starts driving 80 in a 65 when he’s pulled by a police officer and given a ticket.

Samuel is really mad know when he gets to work.  When Sarah the receptionist wishes him a good morning. . .Samuel replies with a scowl “What’s good about it?”  Just about that time Hank the repairman for the Xerox walks in to repair the machine yet again.  Sarah immediately questions Hank’s skill set by implying that if he’d properly fixed the machine the first time. . .they wouldn’t have to keep calling.

Upon walking in his office Samuel starts yelling at his assistant about a report he needs. Alice, the assistant, calls the manager who didn’t turn the report in on time. In a very forceful manner, Alice tells Jack, the manager to get the report over to her immediately. Jack is very upset but compliesJack then chews out Shaniqua because she forgot to remind him the report was due.

Shaniqua is wonder why she’s responsible for making sure Jack’s report is on time since she’s not the one writing it …he is.  She fuming, she walks in the door of her home to find her son. Trey, has a mess of food and homework papers all over her once clean kitchen table. As she begins to chew him out, the unsuspecting cat walks by and Trey gives her a hardy kick.   

Wouldn’t it have been better for everybody concerned if Samuel had just driven to Shaniqua’s house and kicked her cat?  Everyone would have had a much better day except the cat, of course.

Purpose in your heart to stop kicking the cat.

Matthew 7:3-5 in The Message Bible provides a simple guide for eliminating negatives and establishing righteous behavior.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

If you mess up. . .fess up. . .get up. . .and move on.

Don’t blame others.  Heed the words of Yogi Berra, the great catcher of the New York Yankees, who once said:

“I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?”

# 6     Manipulation Is More Than A Game, It’s A Sin

Many people incorrectly assume … there’s that word again … the Bible says that manipulation is a sin as witchcraft.  While those words are not in the Bible. . .the truth of the saying is found in Matthew 5:33-37 in The Message Bible which says It this way:

“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”

How do you know if you’re being manipulated?

First, when you’re with this friend/person/acquaintance do you end up doing what they want to do even when you don’t want to?

Second, does the other person disregard or make light of what you want to do?

Third, when you disagree does the other person always seem to make you look wrong?

If you answered yes to these three questions. . .then you need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you whether or not you’re being manipulated.

The best advice I can give you on manipulation is found in Matthew 24:4 in the English Standard Version which says:

“And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.”

To stop being manipulated. . .you must stop making wrong choices based on information from bad associations.   Eliminating the negativity of manipulation is your choice.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

“Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.  Awake [from your drunken stupor and return] to sober sense and your right minds, and sin no more. For some of you have not the knowledge of God [you are utterly and willfully and disgracefully ignorant, and continue to be so, lacking the sense of God’s presence and all true knowledge of Him]. I say this to your shame.”

Dr. Joyce Brothers once said:

“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”

# 7     Avoid Commiseraters

Lee Iacocca, the man who created the Mustang for Ford and later turned the Chrysler Corporation around, once said:

“Boys, there ain't no free lunches in this country. And don't go spending your whole life commiserating that you got the raw deals. You've got to say, "I think that if I keep working at this and want it bad enough I can have it." It's called perseverance.”

If you spend your time talking with negative folks about negative events…no surprise. . .it’s only reasonable that you’re going to find yourself becoming more and more negative.

The dominant thoughts in your life will draw similar thoughts to them like a strong magnet.

There are two kinds of people to avoid. . .people who talk about and share your weaknesses and the people who criticize them.

If you dwell on past hurts, failures, broken relationships and financial mistakes, then you’re doomed to repeat them or at least let them drag you down.

Isaiah 43:18 in the Message Bible says:

“Forget about what’s happened: don’t keep going over old history.”

If you have messed up. . .if you’ve been negative. . .I encourage you to use what Alcohol Anonymous calls it’s HALT system.

AA says that a person is most vulnerable to becoming upset when they are:





People who have a problem with alcohol are more likely to drink during these times.  Just as a person who overeats is more likely to do so during these four times.  And yes, people who are in difficult marriages are more likely to have an affair when these vulnerabilities occur.

That’s why it’s important for you to have a prayer partner. . .which should be your spouse if your married. . .or perhaps with your pastor or pastor’s spouse so you are linked with a person of your same gender.

While others may criticize, complain and commiserate. . .the one who will survive to success. . .is the one who will overcome adversity by clinging to the Word of God and seeking godly counsel.

Commiserating in your misery is not prayer. . .it’s not giving things over to God.

Don’t commiserate about what happened. . .instead pray and plan for what’s going to happen. . .based on the Word of God.