Summary: An Expository Sermon On Dealing With Difficult People. Part 2 0f 2
"Dealing With Difficult People" Part 2
Pastor Larry Sarver
New Life in Christ
1633 SW 34th St. Palm City, FL 34990
Read Luke 6:27-38
Illustration: There is a story about Leonardo Da Vinci when he was working on his famous painting of The Last Supper. He had become very angry with one of his assistants. With a flurry of furious epithets, he berated the man without mercy. After banishing his assistant from his studio, he went back to work on the painting. As an act of revenge he used the person’s face who had offended him for the face of Judas.
But as he tried to paint the face of Jesus, he couldn’t do it. No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to paint the face of Christ. So he stopped painting, went to the man who had received the full force of his anger and asked his forgiveness. Only when the man forgave him and they reconciled was Da Vinci able to return to the table of the Last Supper and paint the face of Jesus.
When we began to look this passage last week on the subject of "Dealing With Difficult People" we noted that Leonardo’s initial response was fairly typical. Our natural response to those who mistreat us, insult us, hurt us or offend us is to either retaliate, vocalize our anger, or hold of bitter grudge. This is often true of how we respond to those who annoy us or offend us like the aggressive driver on the roadways and it is also often true of how we respond to those who are out true enemies, those who have really hurt and mistreated us. This might be as ex-spouse, parents, neighbor, former friend, co-worker, or an employer, etc.
It is natural to respond to mistreatment with resentment, anger, and revenge but Jesus calls Christians to a supernatural response. It may be natural to retaliate or get even with our enemies but it is supernatural to show them mercy. It is mercy that is at the center of the message of this passage of Scripture. The main point that Jesus has for us in all these verses is to: Treat All People in Our Lives with Mercy. All people would include our greatest enemy and even the worst of offenders in our society and in our lives.
We may say or think that this is impossible and unreasonable but remember that Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit. We are partakers of the Divine Nature. This makes it possible to respond to every person and situation with mercy. We are "to be made new in the attitude our our minds; and to put on the new self which is created to be like God…" (Eph. 4:23,24) Treating all people in your life with mercy is impossible with our own efforts and our own strength but it is possible as we surrender completely to the Holy Spirit’s work and us.
What does it mean to treat all people with mercy? Last week in looking at verses 27,28 we saw that according to Jesus it means first of all to "love your enemies." This does not refer to a fondness or affection for them but it means we are to show them goodwill. We are to refuse to hold of grudge or ill-will against them. Love is not a feeling, it is a choice! Loving your enemies is simply making the merciful choice or decision. So first showing mercy means we are to "love our enemies." Second showing mercy means we are to "do good to those who hate us." We are not only to have no bitterness towards them but also to make every effort to do them good. The third way we are to show mercy to all people is to speak well of the very people who speak evil of us. As Jesus put it we are to "bless those who curse us." We are not to defend ourselves from their words. We are not to reciprocate, seek revenge or even be silent. Rather we are to respond to their evil words with kind words. This is where we left off last week. I received quite a bit a positive feedback from that message with most people noting how applicable the lesson was for their situation. It is always good to see us receiving and submitting to God’s Word rather than ignoring his message or justifying our disobedience. Jesus message for us in dealing with difficult people is...
I. Treat All People In Your Life With Mercy.
So far we’ve seen that our mental response or attitude is to be one of "agape" love or good will. We’ve seen that are physical response is to "do good to those who hate us", and we’ve seen that our verbal response is to speak well of those who speak evil of us. The fourth merciful response is a spiritual one. Jesus says to "pray for those of mistreat you." Note that he said "pray for" and not "pray against" Jesus himself did this even as he was being crucified and therefore set the example for us when on the cross he said, "Father forgive them." We are to pray for the aggressive driver who cut us in traffic. We are to pray for the boss who is overly demanding and deceptive about us. We are to pray for the health of the mean-spirited ex-spouse who may have become ill. We are to pray for the salvation of those who have maligned us, mistreated us and abused us.