Summary: Practical, but practically unknown Biblical helps for this that most people won’t be willing to practice even once they are aware...but truly mature Christians will!
How to Deal with Difficult People
Spurgeon ministered in London in the 1800s, and as a young preacher he learned that you cannot argue w/ a person who will not argue back. One time he learned that a lady was planning to give him a tongue lashing. He said to himself, two can play that game! He was ready for her when she came to him. She lit into him like Bryan Baker into a second helping at dinner! He replied, "Thank you, ma’am, yes it is a beautiful day." She raised her pitch and her volume and proceeded to repeat herself more forcefully...it made her first attempt look like a compliment. He said, "Yes my dear lady, perhaps it will rain, and perhaps it will not." As she walked away she was heard talking to herself saying, "He’s stone deaf!"
It takes two to argue. This passage tells us how to deal w/ the difficult.
There are 3 primary relationships in life, and all 3 are dealt w/ here:
1. With God
v. 1 Total dedication and complete surrender are key.
2. With believers
vv. 4-5 We work in tandem with teamwork.
3. With unbelievers
vv. 14 and following...deal w/ our relationship w/ unbelievers in general and difficult folks in particular...so we can learn to be a positive witness to them so they can be saved.
Truly mature Christians practice these characteristics. In order to know for sure what is inside a rag, you squeeze it, and its contents come out. [water, milk, poison] You could stare at each rag and not know what is inside.
Most Christians look about the same, but if you really want to know what is in them...just squeeze! Apply pressure...push some buttons...and you’ll find out what’s inside. Like a volcano, we explode in fiery rage. Like a popped balloon, we go off with a bang...and vent our pressured contents, or storm out of the room, or worse.
These principles separate the men from the boys, the mature from the immature, those who walk in the Spirit from those in the flesh. [natural/supernatural]
This teaching is opposite of human nature/contrary to all you’ve been taught since you were born/practiced by a small minority of the saved. And this is why our witness/influence is minimal.
I wish I had the faith to believe that after preaching this, we would all change the way we behave. But it is so contrary to our nature, that I’ll be happy if one or two change. Just make sure you are that one or two!
Truth is, we don’t even practice these verses on one another, much less on unbelievers!
How do you deal with difficult people?
1. Treat them with kindness.
a. When they’re mad. [v. 14]
Not ’if’ you are persecuted, but ’when.’ If you live Godly in Christ Jesus it is going to happen.
First of all, make sure those mad w/ you are so because of your position, and not your disposition. [attitude] A haughty, arrogant, holier than thou attitude is just asking for persecution.
How do we react though, when they are mad at us? The natural response is to return to them the same as they dish out. If you hit me, I hit you. One good turn deserves another. You be rude to me, and I one up you with a great slam of a comeback.
But God tells us here to do the opposite...to bless them in return. Bless comes from the Greek word for eulogy. [When you say good things about somebody.]
ill.--Robert E. Lee was asked his opinion of an opposing general who was his sworn enemy. He gave a glowing representation of the man, pointing out many truly great qualities he possessed. An aide took him aside and said, Don’t you remember what that general said about you? Lee replied, "But they didn’t ask his opinion of me, but my opinion of him!"
When the person who has mistreated you finds out that you speak well of them, it will do more to impact them for Christ than any gospel tract someone could hand to them.
ill.--Stephen in Acts 6 played a huge role in Saul’s conversion. Saul saw him being stoned saying, "You’ll all go to hell for this!" Is that what he said? "You’ll get what’s coming to you!" No! It was, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!" Saul saw Stephen bless his persecutors.
b. When they’re glad. [v. 15a] Seems like an easy command to obey, right? Of course we rejoice when something good happens to a friend or family member, or fellow church member. But that’s not the context...this passage is talking about an unbeliever who has been persecuting you!
It’s hard enough to do this w/ a friend! Ever prayed for something and someone else received the answer to your prayer? Did the Lord get the address mixed up? You have to reach way down inside yourself to come back with a smile and say, "Gooooooooood! I’m so happy for you!"