Sunday, July 21, 2019

Have You Been Conditioned to Respond?

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? Ivan Pavlov proved that two stimuli repeatedly linked together can produce a conditioned response. He observed that dogs would salivate when they were about to be fed. Pavlov rang a bell each time prior to feeding the dogs so they would associate the bell-ringing with dinner time. This conditioned them to salivate in the anticipation of being fed because bell ringing and eating were linked together.

This explains why you crave popcorn when you go to the movies. You’ve eaten popcorn so many times as you’ve watched movies that popcorn munching and movie watching are connected together. Now you cannot watch a movie without eating popcorn—and you’ll even pay outrageous prices to get it!

Let’s suppose a dog named Fido was frequently beaten by his master. The recurrent blows conditioned him to associate the stick with pain. One day a boy picked up a stick to play fetch with him. When the dog sees him with stick in hand, a bell rings in his mind and he runs away with his tail between his legs.

Now, replace Fido’s name with your name, and replace the stick with hurtful words. After someone has repeatedly mistreated you, you’ve been conditioned to either fight back or run away. Husbands and wives who continually argue and fight have been conditioned to react to each other. They’ll say, “You always (fill in the blanks)” or “You never…”

But God wants you to follow different instructions: “Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead” (1 Pet. 3:9). Don’t let abusive people condition you to react in the wrong way. Instead of returning the insult, turn it around and condition them to soften their hearts with your blessings. It’s God’s way.
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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174  Twitter: @KentCrockett