You know who they are. Those people in your life who know just how to push your buttons. There’s one or two – or maybe more – friends, neighbors, coworkers, or family members, who seem to have the extraordinary talent to say or do just the thing to “get your goat,” “rub you the wrong way,” or just generally tick you off.

refinementIf we spend more than a few minutes around them we will probably soon be angry, impatient, jealous, grouchy, irritated, or depressed. They just have that effect on us.  And it’s their fault. Right?

Well, maybe not. This past weekend I heard something that really got me thinking. Jennifer Kennedy Dean, founder of The Praying Life Foundation, spoke at my church. Saturday afternoon we had a two-session conference on prayer. Sunday morning, she shared a message about living an “altar’d” life.

An “altar” (the noun) is the place we lay our offering down before God, where we yield that which we hold and control. In her book, “Altar’d: Experience the Power of the Resurrection,” Jennifer turns the noun “altar” into a verb. To live in an altar’d state means to live surrendered to God, yielded and free. It means to put to death our sinful, fleshly ways and lay them down before God. “Altar’d living frees us to live in the power of the resurrection.”

So what does push-button people have to do with altar’d living? Our “buttons” are those spots where our sinful flesh still rules and reigns. Those areas of our lives we have not yielded up to God are the very ones that light up when the push-button people come around. Jennifer called them “pockets of flesh” that rear their ugly head when engaged by the words or deeds of people we encounter.

Selfishness. Anger. Impatience. Greed. The desire to control. The need to be right. Should I go on? Ouch, I really want to stop now.

The real problem is not the people who push the buttons. The real problem is the buttons. That means the fault is within us. Our ugly, fleshly human nature.

Here’s the good news: God wants to use those push-button people in our lives to make us more life Jesus. Whenever our buttons get pushed, the Spirit says, “Did you feel that? That’s an area that needs to be laid down, given over, altar’d.” God points out these areas of sin in our lives because He wants to refine them, clean them out.

I’m tired of having my buttons pushed. I hate how it feels. But this weekend the Holy Spirit showed me that God can use push-button  people in my life for a greater purpose. Now I’m praying that God will help me give every “button” over to Him. When one lights up and I feel that little jolt, I want to turn it off for good, to altar it before God.

What do you think? Do you have any push-button people in your life? How can God use them to make you more like Jesus?

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