Are you a thermometer or a thermostat? 

It’s an old question posed by a much wiser woman than me. But her question still challenges me year after year. 

“Thermometers” are women who only know how to reflect what’s going on around them, while “thermostats” are women who help keep the climate around them at an even keel regardless of the circumstances. A maturing walk with God will lead us more and more to be influencers of the world around us, instead of being merely influenced by it. 

Here are some of God’s instructions that show us how we ought to set tones in a circumstance, rather than merely react in kind to it:

Even though you’ve been hurt or offended - 

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.” Luke 6:27-30 NAS

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21  NAS

Even though the ways of the world seem reasonable, logical, desirable - 

This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart. Ephesians 4:17-19 NAS

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4NAS

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:19  NAS

Even though temptation, discouragement, and darkness runs rampant around us - 

Stand firm against the schemes of the devil.Ephesians 6:11 NAS

Even though the world around us looks frightening - 

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6-7  NAS

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change  
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea. Psalms 46:2 NAS

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me.
 Psalms 23:4 NAS

Even though people speak wrongly of you or plot against you - 

Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes. 
Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors
.Psalms 119:23-24  NAS

Even though a circumstance feels like it is squeezing the life out of you - 

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed ; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NAS

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18  NAS

Even though you might feel worn, weary, less-than, lost, dirty, messy, beyond His sight or His reach - 

It will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken,"
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate";
But you will be called, "My delight is in her,"...
For the LORD delights in you.
 Isaiah 62:4 NAS

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.  1 Peter 2:9-10 NAS

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39 NIV

The world around us is broken and we have been called to live out of the healing of Christ. As women who influence our families, neighborhoods, churches and workplaces we are privileged to be lights that shine into the darkness. Our greatest witness often comes in the smallest acts of faithfulness and obedience. When we show forgiveness to family and friends, we reflect Christ’s attitude, instead of just reflecting the attitudes of the environment around us. When we go out of our way to bless a neighbor who needs help, we reject the self-centeredness that has come to define so much of our society. When we make decisions to tend our families and marriages in a Biblical manner instead of the ways of the world, we proclaim Christ.

The summer heat is raging outside, but it’s up to you what happens on the inside! May you be a mighty “thermostat” for Jesus, bringing His love, joy, peace and patience with you everywhere you go!

Questions to ask yourself:

1. Do I bring drama or peace into my home and family?

2. Do I give more than I take in relationships? Am I frequently concerned about “getting something” from a friendship? Do I keep tabs on who-owes-who?

3. Do I come to church asking the Lord to show me how to bless someone, or do I tell others how the service wasn’t up to par? 

4. Do I spend more effort seeking out ways to encourage people or do I spend more effort criticizing and analyzing the faults of a circumstance or person?

April Motl is a pastor’s wife who serves along side her husband, Eric, at their church in Southern California. For more information about their ministry, or to sign up for the weekly summer give-aways, visit www.MotlMinistries.com. You can also follow their ministry on facebook and twitter and April’s crosswalk blog.

Publication date: August 9, 2012