Summary: Whether it is family, friends, congregation, coworkers, strangers or random people online, we all encounter negativity in relationships somewhere along our journeys. How will we answer when we encounter it? Will we allow our flesh to dictate our answer or will we give an answer that honors the Lord?
Today we are going to talk about how to handle negativity in relationships. Whether it is family, friends, congregation, coworkers, strangers or random people online, we all encounter negativity in relationships somewhere along our journeys. How will we answer when we encounter it? Will we allow our flesh to dictate our answer or will we give an answer that honors the Lord?
Gen. 37:4 - 4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
As we can see from this scripture about Joseph’s life, when God’s favor rests on your life, there WILL be people who don’t like it. They don’t want YOU to be blessed if they’re not blessed. Proof that not everybody will be happy for you when something good happens to you. But those people are also not always willing to walk the way you have to walk to be in God’s favor. They are not willing to lay down the worldly pursuits and worldly ways they would have to lay down in order to have what you have, though they still feel it should have been THEM that got blessed, not you.
I think we can all agree that one of the most challenging aspects of life here on earth is when we have to deal with negativity in relationships – specifically in close relationships. So let’s talk first about what negativity in relationships looks like. What would be some examples of negativity in relationships?
1. People who don’t like you and they show it, whether that be family, coworkers, random people on the internet or anything in between.
2. People who actively work against you to cause harm whether that is by spreading rumors, people who try to turn others against you, spouses who degrade or abuse you, tyrants or controllers, manipulative people, bullies, jealous coworkers, neighbors who don’t like you. People who want to BE you.
3. People who are arrogant and condescending, that act like it takes great effort on their part to even condescend to allow you into their presence. We all know the type.
Any time we encounter negativity in a relationship, our flesh jumps up and wants to get involved. It wants to answer them back, doesn’t it? Anyone who treats us unjust or who uses or abuses us, anyone who degrades us. Our flesh wants to jump up and say I’ll get them!!
When you are saved, your spirit is saved, but your flesh – your soul, which is made up of your mind, will and emotions, is not saved. Your mind, will and emotions can only be renewed. They must be renewed in the Word of God. Sometimes you will encounter people who believe in Jesus but their flesh still acts like Satan – often this is what you are seeing – their spirit is saved but their mind has not been renewed, usually because they are not spending enough time in the Word of God. If we get busy and neglect our time in the Word, the result will be a new spirit carrying around old flesh. That old sinful nature doesn’t stand down without some help from the Word.
We are faced with a choice each time we encounter negativity in a relationship and that choice is…How am I going to respond to this? Will I let my flesh respond FOR me? Or will I let the Word of God and the Spirit of God determine my response?
Back in 2015, I was out walking my dogs one day, a man in my neighborhood verbally attacked me and threatened one of my dogs. We were not even walking on his side of the street. I was so completely shocked. No one in the townhouse neighborhood had EVER spoken to me like that before! If that had happened before I was saved, I would have opened my mouth and a lot of stuff would have come out of my mouth that would not have been Godly in character. My flesh would have given him an answer he would not soon have forgotten, and I would have allowed it to. However, since I have been saved, I have learned that, as Prov. 29:11 says, 11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
Words are very powerful. Do you still remember things spoken to you forty years ago by some thoughtless or cruel person? I know I do. I don’t ever want to be guilty of causing someone 10, 20, 30 years of pain from speaking unkindly to them. God does not look kindly on that, and what we sow, we WILL reap.
You cannot UNSAY something once you have spoken it. That’s a good thing to remember in close relationships. No matter how badly you want to tell someone who is being ugly to you what you REALLY think of them, you can never UNSAY those words once they leave your lips and the results can be truly devastating – to them AND to you. You can apologize, but that only goes so far. You cannot undo the damage you did to them. But more than that, we want to honor God in our conduct and in the way we treat people.