Summary: The more we identify with Christ and His ministries the more we will share in His empowerment, purposes, and processes.
How to Deal With Difficult People
Many people struggle to overcome the temptation to take vengeance into their own hands. However, Paul once wrote, "As far as it is possible, be at peace with all men. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:19-21)
Illustration: Someone has said, "The more I get to know the human race, the more I love my dog." Dogs are loyal, dependable, eager to please, and quick to forgive and forget. Don’t you wish people were more like that? But sometimes no matter how hard we try to have a good relationship with someone, it doesn’t work.
The apostle Paul addressed that situation in Romans 12:18. Notice the phrase "as much as depends on you." He knew that some people problems may never be resolved. It takes two to quarrel; it takes two to reconcile. If you do your part and the problem remains, there is still a plan to follow. Don’t harbor resentment or retaliate with the weapon of silence. Work at overcoming evil with good (v.21), and let God work out the problem. (M.R. DeHaan, Our Daily Bread)
How To Handle People Problems (Romans 12)
Be affectionate (v.10). Be prayerfully patient (v.12).
Bless your persecutors (v.14). Be humble (v.16).
Don’t take revenge (v.19). Overcome evil with good (v.21).
It takes the grace of God to apply this truth in all areas of our life. When we have been cheated, abused, or falsely accused it is our natural tendency to try to return evil for evil. Consider Jesus Christ’s response to mistreatment. "When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly." (I Pet. 2:23) Let us understand the proper ways to identify with Christ when we are unjustly treated.
1. Do not be surprised that you are called to suffer indignities, abuses, or mistreatments for Jesus’ sake. All of life is not fair. "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But, rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory rests upon you." (I Pet. 4:12-14) The more we identify with Christ and His ministries the more we will share in His empowerment, purposes, and processes.
Years ago a man who didn’t like having smoke blown in his face developed a way for nonsmokers to fight back. He called his product "Revenge." It was a foul-smelling disinfectant that came in a pocket-size spray can. The spray gave cigarette smokers a dose of their own medicine--bad air.
Many resented the idea. Some got a laugh out of it. Still others purchased some of the stuff. Its manufacturers were capitalizing on the feeling that I’m sure all of us have experienced: If we don’t counter insult for insult, we’ll get stepped on.
For the Christian, however, there are problems with trying to "get back" at someone. We lower ourselves to the level of the person who irritates us. This makes us vulnerable because we violate the principles of faith and love. Revenge appeals to our lower instincts rather than to the high strategy of goodness found in Christ. (Our Daily Bread)
Do not repay evil for evil. (Rom 12:17)
2. Recognize that the Lord may allow certain abuses for your greater humility, purity and godliness. Sometimes the only way that God is able to get through our thick skulls is to show us how we need His intercessory help. Job endured great abuse from his friends, family and even his beloved wife who told him, "Just curse God and die." All of these mistreatments allowed Job to know that God’s sovereign will is often beyond human understanding. Yet, Job was able to resign himself to the truth, "Lord, I know you can do all things and no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:1,2)
3. Remember to be like the patient farmer who endures great uncertainties with the weather until he finally harvests the crops. "See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop…You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door. (James 5:7-9)It is often said that farmers have to endure many seasonal changes, severe weather or draught before they are able to see miraculously how God brings in them to harvest time. We are all spiritual farmers who are dependent on the Lord in all areas for a fruitful harvest. Everything we have comes from God. The world, the people in it, and all of the affairs of life are in the hands of God. Remember the great song, "He’s got the whole world, in His hands!"