Dealing with difficult people (4)
In Matthew 5:38-39 Jesus said, ‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you…If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also’ (NIV). He was referring to the Old Testament ‘law of retaliation’ that stopped people exacting out-of-proportion revenge. It explained that all punishments should be relative to the crime. Jesus, however, took the idea of getting away with as much punishment as was allowed, and turned it into forgiveness. We know that ‘if anyone slaps you on the right cheek’, it’s natural to want to return the hit, but that starts an endless back and forth. Retaliation leads to retaliation. Here, we’re asked to break that cycle. It’s worth noting that Jesus wasn’t telling people to allow themselves to be taken advantage of, or to allow mistreatment to continue. If a difficult person is making you unsafe, then you absolutely should find a way to get out of that situation and let someone know what’s going on. Whatever the circumstances though, God tells us to avoid messy human revenge and allow Him to deal with the wrongdoer. Romans 12:19-21 tells us ‘Do not take revenge, my dear 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. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ (NIV). It’s our job to walk away, and do as much good as possible. We’re called to bring light despite the difficult people. Trust God to do the rest.
Take yesterday’s ‘What Now?’ one step further by adding positivity to your conversations. When someone speaks negatively, take that quarter-second to pray and then say something positive back.
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