June 10, 2024

Dealing with Difficult People

“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men…” Philippians 4:5


More people are becoming hostile and confrontational these days. Consequently, psychologists have flooded bookstores and the internet with advice on how to talk with angry people. But we need to be careful that the advice we follow doesn’t conflict with Scripture. For instance, the Bible reiterates the importance of having a gentle spirit, even when dealing with difficult people.


Jesus said of Himself, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) So, we get a pretty good idea of what gentleness is and isn’t by looking at His life. Jesus was gentle but He wasn’t weak. The Cross proved that. And the fact that Jesus was gentle didn’t mean He was passive or avoided conflict. He defended the truth of Scripture, not Himself. And Jesus never compromised truth for peace.


Since the nature of Christ is put in us at salvation, we have the capacity to be gentle with all people at all times. You see, gentleness isn’t a personality trait, it’s a gift from God. It’s listed in The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:5) as well as in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus gives us a whole new mindset for life (Philippians 2:5). Plus, He supplies the power to live in that mindset.


So why don’t we automatically respond with gentleness? Because we have to choose to “take [His] yoke.” You see, the Christian life isn’t complicated, it’s costly. Following Jesus demands surrendering our pride, prestige, reputation, personality, and any rights we perceive are ours. This is a life that can only be lived by dying to self and living in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a supernatural way of living.


Dealing with difficult people is just part of life. Responding to them with gentleness is not being a doormat; nor is it just keeping your mouth shut. As the fruit of gentleness matures within you, harsh thoughts will come to mind less frequently. Does that sound impossible right now? Then fix your mind on Jesus today, and do it again tomorrow. Eventually, you won’t focus on the rights you’re surrendering because you’ll care more about what God thinks than what others think.