Sunday, May 25, 2014
When faced with the spiritual test of interacting with "the difficult", I think it is important for each of us to remember the perfect example given by Jesus. Christ was approached by every kind of difficult individual out there, yet He still made sure to show and tell his followers how to deal with individuals who hate, curse and mistreat. I am so thankful for His teaching from the sermon on the mount. There He taught this, "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:27-31)
Jesus never looked at anyone with an attitude of superiority or haughtiness. He came to earth with the ultimate authority of heaven, but still made the point to approach every individual with love and respect. Jesus extended to others a servant's heart and did everything for the sake of glorifying His Father in Heaven.
God provides us clear direction in dealing with difficult persons whose speech is full of foolishness. These individuals like to argue for the sake of arguing and usually come to challenge God's word with their own sinful reasoning. Proverbs has a wealth of information to say about such difficult people. They despise wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, 22, 10:21, 23:9); they are right in their own eyes (Proverbs 12:15); they are deceitful (Proverbs 14:8) and scornful (Proverbs 10:23, 14:9). Scripture is clear regarding how we are to deal with fools... For negligible issues we should just ignore their foolishness. However, in issues that matter, they must be dealt with so that credence will not be given to what they say. In general, it is usually better to walk away from an argument that will only spin you in circles. The only exception is when we give an answer of reproof that is supported biblically so that God's word can be given as the true voice of reason. It is likely that the wisdom of scripture will be despised and rejected, but God expects you to make the attempt... both for the sake of the Truth which is always to be declared, and for the sake of those listening. We must leave it up to the Holy Spirit to work in someone's heart when sharing the wisdom of God against man's folly.
As I type this, I am reminded of someone I know personally. This person has actually become predictable to me in their method to try and suck me into debating God's word. Unfortunately, they show no interest in God, except to argue against Him, and they use all means to reel me into their agenda: deceit, drama, scoffing, anger, insults and abuse. We all have people in our lives like this. We all have to constantly be on guard when such spiritual warfare arises and pray for our hearts and minds to stay protected from "going there". As Christians, we shoud not fall into such schemes of the devil. It is not healthy or holy. Rather, it is best that we disagree once in love and then leave the matter with God to handle. Sure, we need to continue to love and pray for them. But let's face it, God is the only One that can turn a hardened heart anyway. No amount of our arguing can come close to His still, small voice. Amen to that!
Let's instead walk away and live by the admonition given to us by the apostle Paul in Romans 12, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you... Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:3)
Ladies, we can successfully and biblically deal with difficult people. Each test, each opportunity should be viewed as an occasion to share God's word with another as well as praise our Teacher for showing us how to behave like Christ.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3-4)
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. (Proverbs 12:16)
Always remember that love is patient and kind. When you find yourself speaking to a challenging temperament, and/or foolish, angry ears... maintain a humble, quiet spirit. Then move on and pray for the Holy Spirit’s power to change your heart toward that difficult person and enable you to see them as God does. They need the same love, grace and mercy that Christ extended to you when you were lost. Without His love, we would never have received our salvation. So, we too must imitate the character of our perfect Redeemer who forgives and loves all who seek Him. This is behavior that edifies and pleases our King. Through the most difficult dialog and interaction, let's bring glory to our Almighty Father.
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