Summary: An Expository Message On Jesus Instructions For Dealing With Difficult People. Those Who Are Our Enemies, Who Hate Us And Mistreat Us.
Dealing With Difficult People
Pastor Larry Sarver
New Life in Christ
1633 SW 34th St. Palm City, FL 34990
Illustration: About 15 years ago, Amy and I were on our second or third date. She was driving and I was the passenger on U.S. 1 when a man began to aggressively tailgate us, flashing his lights, and honking his horn, etc. I began to get very angry when the man decided to pass and I thought the incident would be over. But at that point the man swerved in front of us and slammed on the brakes as an act of revenge. I lost it! After persuading Amy to allow me to drive I began to pursue this man down U.S. 1 so I could confront him. Fortunately he made U-turn and I lost him. The look on Amy’s face told me that this date was probably our last but fortunately Amy has a forgiving spirit.
I bring up this incident because it is one example of how I used to respond to difficult people. It may be more extreme than is typical, but I think that my response 15 years ago is in some ways similar to how many people handle such situations and difficult people today. My tendency was to retaliate in some fashion. My desire and response were to vocalize my anger. Now sometimes I would not respond outwardly but inwardly I would be holding a grudge. I had the attitude that no one is going to mess with me and get away with it! I will be nobody’s doormat. Perhaps you can relate to my attitude and responses to difficult people because you sometimes have a similar response?
The good news is that the roadways are now safe, at least from me, because I’ve surrendered to Jesus work me and I am committed to following his example and his commandments. There are still times when I feel like retaliating. There are still times when I feel like vocalizing my anger to difficult people. Now Jesus is the Lord of my life that means Jesus is the ruler of every area of my life. This would include my responses to all people, including difficult people. Today we will look at Luke 6: 27-31 which gives us Jesus guidelines for handling difficult people. Here we find Jesus clear instructions for such situations. We all need to know them, understand them, and most importantly practice them through the Holy Spirit’s help.
This message will have application to everybody in here because difficult people are a problem for everybody. It doesn’t matter your age, your gender, or your personality type because we all will meet with difficult people. Certainly we cannot avoid them. When I say "difficult people" I am referring to people we often refer to as jerks or our enemies. When I use the term difficult people, jerks, or enemies I mean those whose mistreat us, speak evil of us, or who do us harm. They may be the stranger on the roadways, a co-worker or an employer. The difficult people in your life might be an ex-spouse or sometimes even a current spouse. They may be a neighbor, a former friend, or even a criminal or government official. They may be someone who just "pushes your buttons." Sometimes these difficult people are those who just plain annoy us and sometimes they are true enemies, those who have really and deeply hurt or offended us. No matter what the particular situation, Jesus has given us instructions for handling and dealing with difficult people. We must do more than agree with Jesus words or advocate them for others, we must also adhere to God’s standards for ourselves.
Read Luke 6: 27 -31
Two weeks ago in verses 20-26 we saw the Jesus brings are radical message about who is blessed by God. Jesus basically said that the blessed are those who are humble, hungry, hurting, and harassed. That was pretty radical and hard to accept but now he is going to give us an even more radical instruction. That is why he begins verse 27 by saying "But I tell you who hear me." Of course everyone present could hear him. This phrase is understood properly when it is translated as "But if you are willing to listen" as the New Living Translation does. The message paraphrase translates this passage as "To you are ready for the truth I say this." In other words this first part of verse 27 is a clear reference to the difficulty in accepting what Jesus is about to say concerning how we are to respond to difficult people. Jesus is telling us to get ready for radical message. Are you ready to hear Jesus? Are you willing to accept this radical message? Are you ready to be challenged and changed?