How to Deal with Difficult People in a Biblical Way


How Did Jesus Deal with Difficult People?

“How should we deal with difficult people as Christians?”
Some people in our lives may be difficult simply because they challenge us. Or they may be difficult because they are different. Or they may be difficult because we live with them (and close proximity amplifies foibles). Or they may be difficult because we are difficult and something about us just rubs them the wrong way.
Or they may just be difficult.
Regardless, by growing in holiness we can learn to accept the inconvenient, the in-congruent and the bothersome (people and events) in our life not just as necessary nuisances but as gifts.
Heather King writes:
[W]hen we are open and receptive to all the world has to offer, and all the world has to teach us, then everything becomes illuminated from within.
Then we see that everything is, or can be, connected to our quest for beauty and order. Everything “belongs”: old dolls, decrepit diaries, discarded buttons. Difficult people.
Seeing difficult people in such a positive light seems like a tall order. But we can start by learning to deal with other people in a Christ-like way.
Scripture teaches us some ways that Jesus dealt with difficult people:
Jesus Asks Questions:
In Chapter 12 of Luke, Jesus is asked to settle a family dispute and basically responds, “Who do you think I am, Judge Judy?” (a loose translation). It is interesting to note that Jesus asks a lot of questions in Scripture. Jesus’ questions were sometimes rhetorical, or challenging, and at other times he was also seeking feedback. By using questions, Jesus emphasizes his openness to the other person.
It is funny, but we humans tend not to ask a lot of questions. We assume, we pontificate, we lecture, we observe, we interrupt and we judge. But we rarely make it a point to ask other people questions. In using questions frequently, I think Jesus is modeling the behavior of a good communicator, one who cares about the other person enough to engage with them and challenge them. Even, and perhaps especially, when they are being difficult.
♦ Jesus Is Never Cornered:
In Chapter 6 of Luke, Jesus is taking a Sabbath stroll with his disciples and the Pharisees pop up out of nowhere and accuse them of breaking the Sabbath by picking grain. Jesus is unflustered. He is never scared of the people who try to slip him up or think the worst of him, because what other people think is not his focus.
Sometimes people corner us with their assumptions and judgments and we can begin to wonder if the way they see us is more objective than how we see ourselves. It is hard when we feel like others misunderstand us or do not take the time to get to know us before judging. But, like Jesus, we do not have to feel defined by the projections of other people. Our identity resides and is found in God, not in what other people try to push on us.
♦ Jesus Knows When to Ignore:
Remember that time when Jesus ticks off all of his former neighbors and friends in his hometown of Nazareth? They are so worked up that they decide to throw him off a cliff. Jesus, seeing that there is no reasoning with these people, walks through the crowd, ignores their rage, and “went on his way” (Luke 4).
Sometimes difficult people throw tantrums, speak harshly or treat us in an abusive way (this happens online all the time). This is the cue to disengage and walk away. Jesus knew how to keep his blood pressure in check and his eyes on the prize. Of course, if we have to deal assertively with someone who does this in person, a face-to-face discussion might help. Later.
♦ Jesus Is Not Defensive:
In Chapter 10 of Mark, James and John say to Jesus: “We want you to do for us whatever we ask.” Wow. Talk about overstepping boundaries! But Jesus is not codependent, so neediness and boundary crossing is not threatening to him. He knows when to say no and when to say yes and does not beat himself up when he doesn’t make other people happy.
Sometimes people can demand more from us than what we can give them. They may try to sway us with guilt trips. Before we know it we find ourselves bending over backward trying to satisfy a needy or aggressive person (who is rarely satisfied!). But Jesus does not try to people please. Jesus does not need to protect himself from other people; God’s will is enough security. This is where his non-defensiveness comes from.
♦ Jesus Is Flexible:
In Matthew 15, a Canaanite woman demands that Jesus heal his daughter and Jesus says no. But then he is moved by the woman’s response of faith and heals her daughter. Jesus approaches others with an open mind. Even when he had preconceived notions, he allowed the Spirit to move him and go against his instincts.
When a difficult person approaches us, we may think, Oh great, here we go again, or I know how this will go, but Jesus kept an open mind when he was approached by others. You never know. The Spirit may move you, or the person who is normally difficult, to act in a different, unexpected way. Being closed to others closes us to the Holy Spirit who is working in us and in the other person.
“Lord Jesus, help me see You in everyone, even the people who challenge me. Light me up with Your radiant love so that I may see You even in the most difficult of people. Every human being is made in Your image. Help me to recognize You and love You in them.”

When God Offers His Hand


How would you like some Good News today?

No, seriously, I’m talking really Good News so good that it’s the BEST news you’ve heard in a very long time!

If so, then take a listen to this; 
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you real rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Since the early dawn of mankind’s history, when our Eden of bliss became a desert of discord, we have been creatures of restlessness. When we are bereft of the peace that comes from God through the saving grace of Christ, we become fish out of water.

Divorce, alcoholism and immorality are direct results of the restlessness of sin. This diabolical unrest has permeated our nation like a contagious disease and has become the underlying cause of domestic, community and social problems. The basic cause of our national immorality is this spiritual unrest in people’s lives today.

Christ could solve the problems of the many celebrities who have made headlines because of their marital difficulties. If the principals in a domestic brawl were to accept Christ, not only would their sins be forgiven, but Christ would help them solve their problems. A love that has apparently gone dead between husband and wife could be rekindled.

Psychologists, schooled in the intricate workings of the mind, are confessing that psychology is helpless to solve all of the mental and nervous disturbances of people today. Sociologists, trained in the interactions of society, are admitting that sociology cannot cope with the tremendous problems in human relationships.

Political leaders point out the moral ills of America, but none of them seem to have an answer to the desperate need for a new moral integrity that would reverse the moral plunge that Americans are taking. Many political leaders privately admit that they are unable to cope with the seriousness of the moral dilemma.

In my travels about the country I have sensed unrest in almost every phase of our modern-day living. This changeable, unsettled, roving, transient, sleepless and fidgety spirit is due primarily to the restlessness of the human heart and its separation from the Christ of tranquility and peace. These insecure individuals could find spiritual peace and physical rest by surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ.

The Bible says, “The wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20). “In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’” (Deuteronomy 28:67)Every day I come in contact with mixed-up, paradoxical men and women: rich people who are held in the grip of insecurity; intellectual people who have lost their way; strong people who live in fear of weakness and defeat. I long to take every one of them by the hand and lead them into the presence of the Savior who said,“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Why die of thirst when you stand upon the brink of a lake? Why starve to death when you are within arm’s length of the Living Bread? Why live in a hovel of spiritual misery when Christ has provided a mansion of divine peace? Hear and accept the divine invitation today: “Come to Me, and rest!”

Make no mistake about it; the Lord Jesus Christ is reaching out to you in compassion, love and mercy right now. Why not take His hand and “put your hand in the hand of Man who stilled the waters,” as the song goes. He will still all the troubled waters of your soul and give you a new, profound sense supernatural peace you’ve always wanted, a new depth you’ve never known…all because you trusted Him and took His hand and let Him take yours to “lead you beside still waters” that will calm your soul (Psalm 23).

Oftentimes in our frenzied world of technology today, we get so caught up in our personal schedules that we drift away from the very things that mean the most. We get stuck into a kind of “funk,” when you’re physically, spiritually and emotionally wiped out. The absolute drain of struggling with doubt, questions of trusting and following Christ with all our heart, wrestling with fear of surrendering all to God’s will for our life. These are the modern ‘peace robbers’ we contend with. God has a better way for you.

Take the hand of Jesus by faith and open your heart in personal prayer to Him. There’s no need to fear anymore. God is your Shield to completely cover and protect you from all the enemies weapons, but you must take His hand and avoid fighting the enemy in your own limited, mortal strength, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me…”

I pray you will take His hand today and trust God to be your true Provider, Protector and your Peace. He is your great Reward. May you know and experience a greater fullness and new depth of God’s peace, love and joy through Jesus Christ the Lord, His Son our Savior. Amen. 

The Bear & the Agnostic


One lovely morning, an agnostic was walking through the woods admiring nature’s beautiful surroundings and many creatures.

He said to himself, “What resplendent trees! What mighty rivers! What elegant animals and insects!” and he thought “Mother Nature sure made an awesome and wondrous world. I’m sure glad I don’t need to believe or trust in some ridiculous, mythical, invisible God for anything like this. Evolution made this, not some Creator God anyway!”

While he was walking along the river, he heard the rustling of leaves in the bushes behind him. He turned to look, and saw a 9-foot-tall-1200-pound-HUGE-man-eating-hungry-grizzly bear, growling, charging towards him full speed knocking down little bushes and kicking up the the turf as it bolted straight to him. 

Screaming in utter terror, he ran for his life, as fast he could, up the rugged, lengthy, earthy path. Looking over his shoulder, the hungry bear was closing in on him. Looking over his shoulder again, the bear was even closer! He suddenly tripped and fell on the ground.

And as he frantically rolled over to pick himself up, the angry bear’s gigantic, terrifying shadow fell upon his now pale with fear face. The growling bear stood up on its hind legs!

With a loud, menacing, ear-deafening roar, it pinned him down with its left paw and as it raised its terrifying, clawed right paw to strike, the agnostic screamed at the top of his voice: “Oh God please help me!!!”

Time Stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.
Everything stood still.
The sky opened.

A bright white light shone upon the man, and a thundering voice came out of the sky. “You doubt Me Jesus Christ all these years, as a proud agnostic. You’ve refused to follow, love or serve Me, in spite of the fact you know better. Do you expect Me to help you out of this predicament now?”

The LORD continued, “Nevertheless, since I am the Merciful, even though you don’t believe or trust in Me, I am loving, kind and here for every being on this earth. I will give you ONE wish to help you and that is all.”

The agnostic looked directly into the light and felt relieved. “Well, Jesus, I still don’t really want to believe in You and it would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as a believer now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a believer and believe in You?” (He was desperately hoping this would get him out of this precarious situation)

The LORD Jesus then said “Let be it done, according to your wish.”

The bright light vanished. The sounds of the forest resumed. The hungry bear dropped its right paw that was about to strike the agnostic, and oddly brought both its paws together, bowed its head & prayed:

(Thank You God for this meal I’m about to receive!)

[The Moral of the Story?]

As the old saying goes, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

Don’t wait for calamity to strike before you start living for the Lord. Do it now! (And also, if you are hiking in bear country, you might want to carry some bear spray too).