“Responding to Difficult People”

 

difficult people

Do you have any difficult people in your life?

 

This is the second post in a series about what Paul Tripp calls “Living Between the Already and the Not Yet.”

The first post was “5 Ways God Finishes His Work in Us” based on Philippians 1.6:

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

We talked about Jude 24 and how God tells us that one day He will cause us to stand before Him faultless.

But there is a progression to it. By God’s grace we are progressing from what we were on the day of our spiritual birth (the “already”) and what Jude talks about in verse 24 (the “not yet”).

Here between the “already” and the “not yet” God is progressively changing us as we learn to:

1. Count it all joy (James 1.2-5).
2. Accept His discipline (Heb. 12.5-11).
3. Keep the 2 great commandments (Matt. 22.37-40).
4. Overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.17-21).
5. Trust in His sovereignty (Rom. 8.28-29; 1 Cor. 10.13).

Today in the second post in that series, we’ll talk about how we should respond to difficult, even sinful, people.

 

Responding to Difficult People

Do you have any difficult people in your life? Is there someone that God has not changed (even though you have been praying and praying) … and it’s hard?

It could be a work situation or a family situation. Maybe you’re being mistreated, insulted or falsely accused?

The truth is, most of us have relationships that are challenging!

In counseling much of what we deal with concerns relationship issues:

  • A couple may come because they can’t be in the same room without fighting.
  • A wife may come because her husband is harsh and unloving.
  • Parents come because a child is disrespectful and angry.
  • Someone else comes because they are still struggling with mistreatment or abuse from childhood.
  • Parents come with a child who is being bullied.

 

How do these things fit into God’s plans and purposes for us?

Let’s just say for a minute “Lois” comes in. Her husband is harsh and unloving and not even willing to come for counseling.

Mike Wilkerson in his book Redemption says that we are all fellow sufferers AND fellow sinners. Even when we are sinned against, we complicate the situation by our responses.

So Lois finds herself yelling, complaining, gossiping to friends, and even threatening her husband with divorce. Now things are not going well. In fact, life has gotten hard!

I will often draw what we call the “Y- Chart” and share with her this simple phrase “Only 2 choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self.”

 

y chart

“Only 2 choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self.”

 

Pleasing self

Pleasing self starts out easy. It comes naturally to us. But …

Proverbs 13.15 says “the way of the transgressor is hard.”

What starts out easy gets hard; things don’t go well. Our sin only worsens the situation.

Psalm 32.10 says, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked.”

And Romans 2.9 says:

There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil

Synonyms for those two words “tribulation” and “distress” include depression, shame, guilt, anxiety, affliction, agony, hurt, misery, pain, torment, and woe, just for starters.

Doing evil can involve sins of commission or sins of omission. Sins of commission are things we do that we shouldn’t and sins of omission are our failures to do what we should.

 

 

y chart Pleasing self starts out easy, but, eventually, life gets hard!

 

Pleasing God

The other way … pleasing God, starts out hard. It goes against our natural way of thinking.

We have thoughts like: “If I let him get away with that, he’ll think it’s ok” or “Do you expect me to be a doormat?” It’s hard! But … Jesus said in Matthew 11.28-30:

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 

 

y chartWhat starts out “hard” gets easier and our burden gets lighter.

 

A minute ago I quoted Romans 2.9:

“There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil …”

But verse 10 says:

“but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good …”

John 13.17 says, now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. And James 1.25 says it’s the doer of the Word who will be blessed.

So back to Lois … life has gotten hard, there’s tribulation and distress, made worse by Continue reading

October 25 “Cutting and pasting the Bible”

Computer Key discardHow do you view the Bible? Do you see it as a cafeteria line where you pick and choose what you like? Do you cut and paste the Bible at will? Do you view it merely as a book of nice suggestions for living?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 35 & 36
Psalm 119.65-72
Proverbs 27.22
1 Timothy 4.1-16

 

Jeremiah 35 & 36:

Cutting and pasting the Bible

Chapter 36.22-26 says:

22 Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. 23 And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. 24 Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. 25 Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.

The king was sitting in his house, warm and comfortable, and—with a complete disregard for the Word of God! When the Scriptures were read to him, he simply cut them off the scroll and threw them into the fire!

holy bible genesisI once heard about a liberal theologian who literally cut the first few chapters of Genesis out of his Bible. Others today throw out the whole Bible as being the work of men. Still others, claim they are followers of Christ, but pick and choose what to believe.

Some talk about how Jesus loves everyone, but forget that He ordered the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Some claim to love God but don’t do what He says, forgetting His words, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14.15). And others say it’s a book of principles alone. They deny its truthfulness in the area of history and science and eliminate the whole creation account. Continue reading

July 23 “Got problems?”

Got problems? If you are like most of us, you have a few, maybe a lot! Are you distressed, fearful, anxious, or discouraged? Where are you looking for the answers?

imagesCAB0B7SS

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 7 & 8
Psalm 88.1-5
Proverbs 21.21-22
Acts 23.16-35

Ezra 7 & 8:

How God protects His Word

As you can well imagine, most of the returning Jews who had lived and been born in a pagan culture had little understanding of God’s law. But chapter 7 verse 6 says:

“This Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given.”

Ezra had faithfully studied and meditated on the laws and precepts of God in spite of the culture around him. And because of his faithful preparation, he was instrumental in teaching the people who returned to Jerusalem from the captivity and was greatly used by God!

bible

Do you suppose he ever wondered, “Why am I spending all this time reading and studying and memorizing?” John MacArthur says in his Daily Bible that, according to tradition, Ezra had God’s law memorized. That would have been at least the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—memorized! God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithful to seek to understand and apply it. Continue reading