Monday, July 16, 2018

How to Love and Cope With Difficult People

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:19 NIV)

“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8 NKJV).

Why Are Some People Difficult?

This week's message is equally important to us as we are encouraged to maintain a culture of humility and become truly God-fearing Christians. In this work, we aim to draw your attention our day to day relationship with others within the Christian family. Like with all our other articles, this message is not an exhaustive study, but intended to be an eye opener to encourage you to seek the Lord further if you are struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with others. Having personally experienced the Lord's sharp and soul-penetrating rebukes for wrong doing, I am indebted to share with you and to draw your attention to things we often overlook which displease the Lord. This message concerns some matters of the heart and the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). I would also like to point out that it greatly displeases the Lord when we use our minds as an instrument of harboring evil thoughts towards others (Matthew 7:2). The Lord said if we are continuously thinking bad and wrong things about others is it a condemnable sin, because bad thoughts translate into hateful feelings and evil intentions (Luke 6:45). Now this has a bearing on our eternal destiny: NO LOVE, NO GOD, and NO HEAVEN! (1 John 4:20-21; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3). It is a known fact that we are all different physically and emotionally. Therefore, what defines human relationships is how we relate to one another in a social context. Once again, we do not intend going into a detailed discussion on this subject; our aim in this work is simply to give a Scriptural appreciation on loving and helping difficult people.

From all backgrounds and within various families, people have a hard time dealing with the disposition of others simply because of the unique or different way they perceive and understand things. This is because various factors play a role in shaping the human personality, for example, our upbringing within a family and the values we were taught by close relatives and friends, our education, cultural background, and our relationship with God. As we freely make choices (Deuteronomy 30:15-20) and form good or bad habits, we may also be influenced by other forces  that may shape our total personality and character (John 12:6; 13:27). As a result of the various influences vying for our attention, we use our personality traits with or without restraint to engage with others socially. Based on the above, the tone and level of our interactions is determined.

Adjusting our Standards to Love and Accommodate Others

We may find it both difficult and almost impossible to effectively communicate and engage with other people who are culturally diverse from us. The secret to winning people’s trust and confidence is to find common ground with them, without compromising our Christian faith. For example, the apostle Paul crossed the cultural divide and wisely practiced with success cultural tolerance in order to effectively communicate his message (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Generally, people from all walks of life identify with things and mannerism that reflect some of the values they have. Again, when the apostle Paul visited Athens, he made a careful study of the practices of the local people (Acts 17:22-24) so that he may challenge and adapt his message to win them for the Lord (Acts 17:23-34). Contrary to Paul's behavior, the apostle Peter was at first reluctant to embrace other cultures, until the Lord Himself rebuked him for refusing to adapt culturally in order to present the holy gospel of salvation (Acts 10:14-15). Despite the opposition from his company, Peter finally obeyed the Lord (Acts 11:17-18). The Apostle Paul also rebuked Peter for hypocrisy with regards to relating to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-21).

How often do you obey your cultural inclinations to restrict the Gospel? From my experience, I know some people are afraid to cross the cultural divide because they are afraid of change and the trouble that sometimes results from adaptation. Most of us are too comfortable in our culture and are unwilling to venture outside. When we are unwilling to adapt culturally, we often deny ourselves the experience and honor of giving and showing appreciative love to others.

Surviving the Moods and Temperament of Difficult People

Being in this life is not a guarantee that we will be ever trouble-free as we’ve all come to know. Given the various factors we alluded to above, our attitudes get affected and we voluntarily respond defensively and often with retributive vitriolicism or malice. Brethren, such actions render us guilty before the Lord and we are denied peace with others. Remember the Lord commands us to be at peace with men and to love another (Romans 12:19; 13:8). Being guilty of sin is a bondage which hinders our relationship with the Lord and denies us His peace (1 John 1:9). Brethren, have you ever offended someone and after some time you were bothered by a guilty conscience, and you realized your guilt and ask the Lord for forgiveness? Instead of owning up to your shame, are you sometimes too lofty to submit yourself and apologize to your brother or sister? Such pride and arrogance are the very things that turn us into difficult people to live with, causing shame that destroys our love for others and the truth.

In the Bible, we learn that King Saul became a very difficult and unreasonable man after being influenced by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 20:30-32). He despised the law of God that commands us to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). Even though he was being vilified and pursued, King David responded to King Saul’s anger in kindness and not in a retaliatory way and out of malice (1 Samuel 24:8-20). Also, when being cursed by Shimei, King David kept his composure and temperament and endured humiliating insults (2 Samuel 16:5-13). In many of his trials, including the wicked schemes of his son Absalom, King David did not demand an apology to forgive; he allowed God to judge his offenders so that he might receive grace (2 Samuel 16:12). Whether the other person asks for forgiveness or not, we should always be ready and willing to forgive them for our soul's sake (Matthew 6:14; Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32).

Under the new covenant (Hebrews 12:24) and in the New Testament, the Lord commands to "love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:38-48 NKJV). In practice, when our Lord Jesus Christ was being falsely accused, insulted, humiliated and mocked, He did not offer threats or hateful feelings, but He forgave unconditionally while allowing God to judge (1 Peter 2:22-23). Responding in submission to such humiliation and insults defies human understanding. One thing was clear: love was complete in Christ and it could not be shaken!

Appreciating Experience to Endure Difficult People

A few years ago, a good friend of mine related to me how he failed the test of enduring insults by the proverbial mark. He told me that he dished out the same kind of insult to his opponent and this caused his fall in the Lord. He related to me after this experience how he had to learn humility, tolerance, and submission to insults. If we respond out of our feelings and emotions to hurtful words, we will end up exposing our own weaknesses, and for that there is only one reward – our shame! The Lord has also rebuked many of us in this ministry and commanded us to pursue peace by being submissive to those who intend hurting us. A few years, ago a sister who just could not get over the insults of her ex-boyfriend vengefully retaliated at him, thereby making herself guilty before the Lord while exposing her vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The Lord encouraged her in a rebuke to simply forgive her offender and allow the Lord to deal with him. She obeyed at first, but later allowed her weaknesses to take over, and this led her into sin and eventually away from the Lord. Brethren, we must guard against hateful feelings!

The Bible says: “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Proverbs 15:1-2 NKJV). I would encourage you, dear brethren, if you find yourselves in the crossfire of insults, remember that silence is golden (Matthew 27:14). We must remember the offending party will always portray his or her victim(s) as very lousy and often with malicious intent fabricated with lies and exaggerations (Mark 15:3). Mark this: a person with an insulting and offending spirit speaks from a hateful heart, his intent is malice and inflicting emotional pain.

In conclusion, let us love, and submit to insults to avoid quarrels, hateful feelings to gain peace! To receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please start by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed love in Christ’s service,

Brother Glenn.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Sanctity Of Our Christian Faith

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7 NIV).

The Unseen Value of The Christian Faith

Our faith being more precious than gold or any worldly treasure, is the substance we need to hear, understand and respond to God’s message (Hebrews 11:1). Additionally, it is also by faith that we will be considered righteous although a righteousness through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is the hallmark of our faith, knowing God (Jeremiah 9:24) and obeying Him. Therefore, knowing God and obeying Him gives fulfilment to our faith since the gift of faith came from God (1 John 5:4; Ephesians 2:8). In other words, our faith sees God, it understands God, and it responds to God. By having this faith, we are clothed with holiness because our faith identifies with Him who is Holy (Jude 1:20). Being so priceless, the goal of our faith means an escape from worldly corruption and the redemption of our souls which translates into immortality (John 3:16).

Philosophically, the world has changed as a result of the increase of human knowledge and scientific advancements (Daniel 12:4), and this has equally increased scepticism in the existence of God. Truthfully, as knowledge increases so does the interest of people which are fuelled by the pleasure thereof. I have read that some have even said that the things about God are outdated and metaphysical. They reckoned that God does not exist, and people must find answers to lives problems rationally and logically. In other words, the ready availability of information has increased interest in things other than God. While this is a threat to our faith, our hearts should be set to please and live for the Lord, and the dominant spirit of faithlessness should not move us into conformity (Romans 12:2).

Furthermore, we often heard the expression, ‘seeing is believing’ and even the Pharisees of old demanded to see God’s work first before believing (Matthew 27:42). Now demanding to hear or to see things about God is not an expression of interest in God, but a motivation to test God based on curiosity (Matthew 16:4). Knowing the intentions of people, God is much smarter than humans, and He never satisfies human curiosity (Job 38:2; Luke 23:8), and neither is He in the business of showing off His Might to please a man (Romans 2:11). Thus, God’s testimony of Himself as revealed through the Scriptures is sufficient, and He has successfully used it as a basis to save those who believed in every generation (Romans 10:18). Therefore, the Lord will continue to save and reveal His love and purpose into the hearts of those who hear and see Him by faith (Hebrews 11:1). Thus, people's knowledge may increase and invent new ways to indulge in sin but this does not diminish the power of God's word and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

Faith Bankruptcy of Our Times

While I don’t have time to refer to specific sources, it has been reported that the Christian faith was on the decline. Whether true or false, this should not discourage believers; it is a common trend that the ‘worries for pleasures and riches chokes’ the word and render some people faithless (Luke 8:14). Such people’s faith were never really rooted in Christ as their interest were only on the things they needed from God, and if God made them wait on Him they quote. Some time ago, the Lord showed me in a vision that the truly faithful believers would never be shaken or moved by the mass discouragement and faithlessness that is seasoned to test faithfulness. The Lord showed me when He provided test; He sifts the shaft from the wheat (Matthew 3:12) the faithful would be unshaken like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:18). Also, when God provided a test of faith and allowed a spirit of apostasy in the Land of Israel during the time of the prophet Elijah, He reserved for Himself 7000 men and women (1 Kings 19:18).

Additionally, when a mass rebellion and an exodus from the faith occurred at Kadesh, in the Desert of Paran Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb stood their ground and remained unshaken (Numbers 14:5-9), but the faithless perished (Numbers 14:29-30).

Likewise, when faithlessness struck most of the Lord’s disciples (John 6:60-66), Peter and the other 11 disciples embraced the Lord’s Words and teachings and these men, besides Judas Iscariot, changed the World as they proclaimed the Christian faith (Acts 1:8). Equally, we are encouraging you dear brethren not to allow the mass faithlessness around you and the non-interest in Christianity to drain your faith. You are a light God (Ephesians 5:8) is using to illuminate the space where your faith is operating. As a ministry, we were also hit by mass faithlessness from all around, and it felt as if our message and the Lord's rebukes had an effect on some of the brethren. However, it was as if the Lord stripped us of everybody we depended on for support and encouragement in our work. On one   occasion the Lord saw our discouragement and He said, "You mother and Father must not be discouraged, they must remain steadfast and faithful". Let this be known to every faithful Christian; you will face betrayal and rejection which results from people’s lack of faith and their interest in things other than Christ (3 John 1:9-10). Remain steadfast and remember that the apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus were also deserted in their time of trials but they remained faithful (2 Timothy 4:16-17; Matthew 26:31).

In conclusion, we encourage you brethren not to be easily intimidated when you hear or see some believers having abandoned their faith. The Lord promised ‘never to leave you, nor [to] forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5), and neither should you succumb to the fear of uncertainty for faith is absent and rendered ineffective when you allow it to be oppressed by worry. Instead, let us, therefore, consider the purity, innocence and rewarding aftermath of our faith. How best to sum up and conclude this message by saying, “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continued to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:9-12 NIV).

Now, don't miss this opportunity, we would like to extend an invitation to anyone who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ yet, or of you are not born again, to pray our suggested prayer on this link Prayer of Sincere Repentance by faith and follow the Lord (Matthew 4:19). You may also contact us for any questions or comments about this article or our ministry.

Blessed Faith in Christ

Brother Glenn