Dealing With Difficult People

I. Difficult people are referred to as froward in the Bible. 1. Froward adj. - 1. Disposed to go counter to what is demanded or what is reasonable; perverse, difficult to deal with, hard to please; refractory, ungovernable; also, in a wider sense, bad, evilly-disposed, ‘naughty’. (The opposite of toward.) 2. People that are difficult to deal with are evil (Pro 2:12, 14-15; Pro 6:12). 3. God hates froward people (Pro 3:32; Pro 8:13; Pro 11:20). A. Abomination n. - 1. The feeling or state of mind of combined disgust and hatred; abhorrence, detestation, loathing. B. Therefore, God hates people who are difficult to deal with.

II. If possible, avoid difficult people. 1. Contentious people will cause strife (Pro 16:28; Pro 26:21; Pro 15:18). 2. Make no friendship with an angry man (Pro 22:24-25). 3. A companion of fools shall be destroyed (Pro 13:20). 4. Evil communication corrupts good manners (1Co 15:33). 5. Go from the presence of a foolish man (Pro 14:7). 6. You will end up being ashamed if you run with riotous men (Pro 28:7). 7. Hanging out with sinners will vex your soul (2Pe 2:7-8). A. Vex v. - I. 1. trans. To trouble, afflict, or harass (a person, etc.) by aggression, encroachment, or other interference with peace and quiet. B. If you want to live a good and peaceful life, forsake the foolish (Pro9:6).

III. Sometimes, though, it's impossible to avoid difficult people altogether. 1. Such cases may include family relationships. A. Where religion is concerned, a man's foes are often in his own family (Mat 10:34- 37). B. This is especially true of people who have been converted and have forsaken their family's religion. 2. Difficult bosses or coworkers will also sometimes fall into this category (1Pe 2:18). 3. Sadly, sometimes even church members can be difficult to deal with. 4. In such cases, try to implement the following Biblical principles into the relationship.

IV. You must control the relationship. 1. You must set boundaries for difficult people. A. This could be distancing yourself from them socially or even physically. i. Abraham and Lot parted ways when there was strife between their people (Gen 13:5-12). ii. Paul and Barnabas separated from each other when they had sharp contention between them (Act 15:36-41). B. This could be setting limits on how often you communicate with them (talk, text, message, etc.). C. This could be setting limits on what topics you discuss with them. i. Tell them that you will not discuss negative topics. ii. Tell them that you will not entertain requests that you have already denied them. D. Tell them if they break your rules or cross your boundaries, the conversation will end. 2. You must train them by enforcing your rules consistently. A. When they see that you are steadfastly minded, they will stop trying to change your mind (Rut 1:18; Act 21:14). B. But if you don't enforce your rules, you will allow them to control the relationship. C. You must follow through with whatever consequences you tell them they will face if they break the rules or cross the boundaries. 3. Don't let them make you feel guilty by their manipulation.

V. You must be prepared to walk away from the relationship when possible. 1. If a difficult person will not respect your rules and boundaries, you need to avoid him, if possible (Psa 101:4). 2. This is very important to do in a case where you are dating a difficult person. A. Bad character traits will only get worse after marriage. B. It is utter folly to assume that a person's character will improve after marriage. C. If the person you are dating is disagreeable and contentious, get out of the relationship now before it's too late. D. It's better to be alone (Pro 21:9; Pro 21:19; Pro 27:15).

VI. Don't argue with fools. 1. Speak not into the ears of a fool (Pro 23:9; Job 32:1). 2. Whether you rage or laugh, there will be no rest (Pro 29:9). 3. Some wicked people are just implacable (Rom 1:31). 4. Implacable adj. - 1. That cannot be appeased; irreconcileable; inexorable: of persons, feelings, etc. 5. They can't even be spoken to (1Sa 25:17).

VII. Don't bend over backwards for them. 1. Some people will be offended no matter what you say or do (Mat 11:16-17). A. They will condemn you if you don't eat or drink something (Mat 11:18). B. They will condemn you if you do eat or drink something (Mat 11:19). 2. When you meet a person who cannot be pleased, don't try to please them. A. They will never be satisfied with any concessions you make. B. They will always push for more (Pro 27:20). C. Let them alone (Mat15:12-14).

VIII. When you must interact with difficult people, do the following. 1. Use a soft answer (Pro 15:1). 2. Control your temper at all times. A. Be slow to speak and slow to wrath (Pro 14:29; Jam 1:19-20). B. If you don't have rule over your spirit, you will harm yourself (Pro 25:28). C. If you have control over your temper, you can deal with anyone (Pro 16:32). 3. Try to steer the conversation in a non-confrontational direction. A. Avoid talking about subjects that are going to set them off. B. Don't respond to comments they make that are designed to cause a fight. 4. Don't talk back to them the way they talk to you (sometimes) (Pro 26:4). A. This will make you no better than them. B. This will only agitate the situation. C. "Never argue with a fool, on lookers may not be able to tell the difference."(Mark Twain) 5. Talk back to them the way that they talk to you (sometimes) (Pro 26:5). A. This is necessary sometimes to make them see how stupid they are acting. B. Always make sure when doing this that you are doing so to ultimately help the person and not just to get revenge. C. God acts froward (difficult to deal with) toward those who are froward (Psa 18:26), and we sometimes need to do the same.

IX. When possible, try to live peaceably with all men (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14). 1. Pray for them (Mat 5:44). 2. They obviously have spiritual and emotional problems that are manifesting in their contentiousness. 3. Remember to have mercy (Jam 2:13). 4. Try to understand them and uncover the root cause of their contentious attitude. 5. If you do this, you just might be able to help them to heal.

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