Avoiding nasty people: is it Christ-like?

I think we can see this issue from two angles. What should a Christian do about the nasty, negative people in his life?

  1. Avoid trauma triggers, so as not to have a serious emotional reaction
  2. Love people as Christ loves them, unconditionally

Many years ago, I suffered harrassment. I won’t go into details, but when the phone rang, I would begin to shake. It didn’t matter who was calling, but just hearing the phone ring caused me to have a totally involuntary reaction. My husband answered the phone for a while. I avoided it altogether because of a series of traumatic experiences I’d had. I’m happy to say this is totally in the past.

Being in the ministry, one naturally comes across some evil people. A few of them are abusive in the extreme. Are we supposed to cultivate a palsy-walsy friendship relationship with them, when they’ve refused to listen to counsel, change, and are abusive? I don’t think so.

It seems to me that we can be civil with everyone, but we don’t have to place ourselves beside abusive people more than we absolutely need to be.

Jesus preached in synagogues—where the whole spectrum of Jewish people worshiped. Some received His words, and some merely considered them. Others outright opposed Him.

Sometimes, those who opposed sought Him out to trip Him up with words—always failing. He sometimes refused to answer their questions or answered with His own questions. At other times, He answered quite clearly and contradicted their false beliefs. We can learn a lot from Jesus about how to handle critics, conscious that we must rely on the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Jesus taught that He seeks and finds those who are lost. I am thankful for His example: seeking the lost and trying to bring them into the fold.

Those who oppose us as to the gospel are actually opposing the Lord, but we can persist in praying that the Holy Spirit will get through to them and they will be saved. We cannot expect those who don’t know the Lord to act like believers. When opportunities present themselves, we can point people to Christ.

As to believers who oppose us, who actively do us harm—and won’t resolve the problem after we have gone to them one-on-one and tried to win them (Matthew 18:15-17), there may come a time when we part ways. It will be seldom, thankfully, but it can happen. We should still be civil and kind, but we don’t need to be good friends with that person.

Separation always has the end goal of reconciliation and restoration. If that person realizes his sin and confesses and asks for forgiveness, it should be given. I think we can be cautious and watch to make sure that person is sincere, but we should be willing to help that person come back to the Lord, church, and back into fellowship with all.

What does the Bible say about these topics?

This is about the person who professes to be a born-again Christian: But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). Notice the distinction between those without and those within. God judges unbelievers, but we’re not to have close friendships with those who say they are Christians and live like unbelievers.

Another cause for separation is with people who say they are Christians but divide the church and teach false doctrine. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Romans 16:17).

But, what about the people who are not in our churches, those around us who may rub us wrong? Jesus said, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? (Matthew 5:44, 46-47)

Love those sandpaper people. Be friendly. Reach them with kindness.

What do we expect of people who don’t know Christ? They don’t have the Holy Spirit in them and aren’t motivated to resist temptation. Unsaved people are carnal, of the world, thinking about pleasure rather than God. We can’t expect anything else.

How do we reach people? Love. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Galatians 5:14).

Jesus loved sinners. But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). That’s Christ-like love.

Do we or do we not … want to obey?

The Bible speaks plainly. In the Old Testament, God proclaims countless times: if you obey me, I will bless you. If you do not, you will suffer the consequences.

It’s that simple.

In the New Testament, Jesus says, If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).

We who are born again Christians, churchgoing, and Bible believers say that we love the Lord. We say we believe the Bible from cover to cover.

And that’s good.

Why don’t we obey?

My husband and I have counseled people, showing them in black and white from the Bible what God wants them to do in a specific situation, not adding our words to it. But they won’t.

If we love God, our desire should be to please Him.

The Bible tells us what God wants us to know. If we obey His Word, we have His blessing. If we choose to disobey, we reap the consequences.

I’m talking about clearly stated principles.

Let’s pretend—and I know my readers aren’t like this pretend story—that you are cognizant that the Bible says, Thou shalt not steal. It’s one of the Ten Commandments, and you’ve known them all your life. No problem.

One of your friends asks you to help her rob a bank. Your part will be fairly easy. You’ll hold a gun on the guard at the door, and she will go to the bank teller and make demands. You will split the money afterwards.

Now, apart from security cameras and all the logistical problems involved in this totally made-up scenario, you decide that this a great way to get quick money. You holster your Glock 19 and head for the bank with your friend. Of course, you get caught, and both of you serve jail time for attempted robbery. This is what happens when you disobey God’s rules.

The Bible instructs us about practical living: family relationships and roles, purity, entertainment, dress, helping the poor, how to act in church, and all kinds of other subjects.

Yet, we constantly choose to ignore or disobey.

Or we choose ignorance.

I don’t think Christians willingly choose ignorance, but sometimes we honestly don’t know what the Bible says.

Maybe we need to find out.

We need to find out so that we can obey. I love how Psalm 119 develops this concept. In closing, let me share the heart of the psalmist with you. We’re not sure who actually wrote this particular Psalm, but it doesn’t matter. What’s important is his desire to know what God wants so that he can obey. (These are not all the verses on this topic, only about half of them.)

From Psalm 119:

  • Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart (verse 2).
  • O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! (verse 5)
  • Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word (9).
  • I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart (32).
  • Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart (34).
  • So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever (44).
  • I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments (60).
  • Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments (73b).
  • Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth (88).
  • I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments (106).
  • I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end (112).
  • Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God (115).
  • I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies (125).
  • Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold (127).
  • My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly (167).

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law.

Role models

We often hear news interviews where people reference their heroes (sports, arts, actors, rescuers, etc.) as role models. Some of their role models have reached iconic status and are even referred to as idols.

Who’s your role model?

Why?

What does this person’s example teach you?

I’m not sure I ever had one role model, though I have a whole list of heroes and people I look up to. Some have impressed me with their kindness, graciousness, generosity, and understanding. I have a few women friends who are examples to me in the way they act. The people I respect are faithful workers in their churches. Many of my personal heroes lived in days gone by, and most are missionaries—pioneers who never gave up. David Livingstone, George Müller, Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, and Adiniram Judson are role models for anyone. Of course, there are many more.

Closer to our time are people like Darlene Deibler Rose, Elisabeth Elliot, Cori Ten Boom, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who’ve inspired us with their testimonies, speaking, and writings.

If you were to choose an ideal woman for a role model, what would she be like?

Proverbs 31 is a good place to start, with the Virtuous Woman. She’s a wife, mother, provider, industrious, thoughtful, and she dresses with grace and beauty. She also cares for the poor, looks after her household, and makes sure her husband and children have what they need. She’s strong, yet her speech is with wisdom and kindness. This lady commands respect.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 say we should dress like and have the same attitude as godly women who fear the Lord. Godly women should be both our role models and clothing models. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

A similar passage is: Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands (1 Peter 3:3-5).

How should mature Christian women act? They will be good examples and teachers. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).

Role models in the world tend to be in favor of just about everything that flies in the face of biblical standards.

We have a choice: embrace the models God has given us, or reject them and follow the women the world sets up as examples.

Let’s choose the best role models: women who love the Lord.

Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:11b-12a).

Rest Day Survey Results

Not long ago, I asked my friends to complete a totally anonymous survey about taking a rest day each week. First of all, thank you to the 58 friends who filled out my survey. I value your input.

Here are the results:

Do you take one day off each week?

  • Yes. 52%
  • No. 16%
  • Sometimes. 33%

If you do NOT take a day off, why not? (37 answered this question.)

  • No time. I work full-time and work at home when not working outside the home. 14%
  • I work seven days a week. 5%
  • I never really thought about taking a day off. 8%
  • Other. 73%
  • Comments:
  1. I am a housewife. How do you take a day off? We go out to eat on Sundays but Sunday is the biggest day as far as other activities.
  2. Needs often come up to change my schedule.
  3. I haven’t figured out how to take a day off from household duties. Hubby doesn’t take a day off.
  4. We try to take a day off … but one phone call can change that—and usually does.
  5. We don’t have a set day off, but we try to have some down time one or two afternoons a week.
  6. We do what we can’t on Saturday, if it needs to be done immediately.
  7. Sometimes something comes up in the ministry that does not allow me to take a day off.
  8. We usually work/do ministry at least a part of every day. We take time away for doctor appointments or to have meals with friends periodically.
  9. Too busy with homeschooling and ministry.
  10. Minstry schedule does not usually allow for a full day off. I try for a half day once a week, and the occasional full day when I can.
  11. We have not been intentional about it or sticking with it.
  12. It depends on what needs to be done.
  13. This rarely happens, but some weeks get so demanding with what others need that I can’t find one. I do sometimes try to keep half a day restful if this is the case.
  14. We try to take days off but there is always something that interrupts
  15. Mostly I do, but there are occasions that my job does not allow me a day off.

If you DO take a day off, which day is it?

  • Monday 40%
  • Tuesday 10%
  • Wednesday no one
  • Thursday 2%
  • Friday 10%
  • Saturday 14%
  • Sunday 25%

Do you believe that the Sabbath Day command in the Ten Commandments is for today?

  • Yes. 57%
  • No. 32%
  • I hadn’t thought about it. 11%

Answer only if you are in a ministry family: do you take a different day off, since Sundays are very busy for you? (46 answered this question.)

  • Yes. 74%
  • No. 7%
  • Sometimes. 20%

If you do NOT regularly take a day off, how do you rest? (36 answered this question.)

  • We take short holidays. 28%
  • We enjoy our vacation once or twice a year. 17%
  • Other. 56%
  • Comments:
  1. I do not feel like I am overworked. Our ministry is quite small. I feel like this survey is better given to the husband than the wife. The problem, of course, is that, “What is work?” Is doing laundry work? Is answering a personal message work? Is asking someone on social media how their dog is doing work?
  2. Daily rest periods and Sunday afternoon naps.
  3. Try to take one day off but if the day has to be changed I can’t go too long without some alone time.
  4. I take rests on days I feel overwhelmed. Take a nap read a book watch a movie.
  5. Rest at home.
  6. (A foreign missionary) We don’t rest enough and came back to the States this furlough completely exhausted.
  7. I try to take a couple of hours here and there. Sometimes I sleep in so I can get caught up.
  8. We take half day breaks as necessary to do errands or appointments. We also have a coffee out at least once a week.
  9. By staying at home.
  10. We take a half-day on Monday and half-day on Friday, which allows my husband to answer necessary correspondence or “clean up” issues from Sunday on Monday morning, and then we do something as a family. We mostly have a four-day homeschool week but we do math and English on Monday morning while Daddy is “working.” We do usually sleep in, have brunch and dinner only, and take a relaxed approach to the day. Also regarding the sabbath question we observe it as a command to rest and cease from our everyday labors, but it’s not always the same day or a 24-hour period. It does include fixing meals and such, but I try to avoid other housework like laundry and bills and shopping.
  11. I do take short vacations. And Saturday evening through Sunday evening, I try to have the Internet off and not be doing prep work for ministry. I might be teaching Sunday School on Sunday morning or doing something with ladies Bible Study on Saturday, but all my studying and printing etc. will be done ahead to not be last-minute frenetic, to set my heart ready for church. I (usually) do not go on social media during that time. If I were elsewhere, it would be more feasible to have a full Internet fast, but needing the Internet for communications, and with different time zones, I don’t adhere to that. But I do not actively seek out online recreation/time.
  12. Although I do take a day off from ministry related work, my day “off” is spent doing laundry, housework, and grocery shopping. What is rest?
  13. Some weeks it’s Monday some weeks it’s Thursday. We try to have some down time each week.
  14. Sad to say, we don’t do much.
  15. We try to find days or moments here and there to rest, but dedicating an entire 24-hour period is very difficult in our cross-cultural ministry. We try to set reasonable boundaries, but when someone calls or texts or stops by and needs something, we don’t tell them that we can’t because it’s our day off. We honor Sundays as special days for service and worship, but Sundays are very busy and tiring for us most of the time. I don’t believe the actual laws for honoring the Sabbath are for today, but the principle of setting aside a day for worship and reflection/rest in the Lord still stands.
  16. Sit at home in quiet and read, take a book on a hike to get away, enjoy time with friends. (I’m single, so sometimes being around people is restful and calming for me.)
  17. We take a day off each week and a bit longer breaks a few times throughout the year.

As you can tell, my friends are all over the place on this question. Some take time off regularly, and some don’t. Many ministry friends are willing to change their schedule and go help people at the drop of a hat. Two asked the valid question, “What is rest?”

Well, what is rest?

The dictionary definition is: “cause (someone or something) to stop doing a particular activity or stop being active for a period of time in order to relax and get back your strength.” Cambridge Dictionary.

To me, the next important question is about the Sabbath rest. Is this a principle for today—or not?

I was brought up in a family that always attended church on Sundays. We also had several rules for that day. One was that it was usually spent at home and with some kind of rest. It might mean playing games with our grandparents, taking naps, or reading a book, but there was no raucous behavior permitted. From my junior high years on, we attended evening services at church, and that cut our afternoon time to a minimum, especially since we sang in the choir and had a practice before the service.

When I was in college, because of the demands of studies—many quizzes on Mondays—I found it hard to rest at all on Sundays.

As a newly married couple, my husband and I had to figure out our own preferences for Sunday. I remember being in a pastor’s home on a Sunday afternoon, and he turned on the TV to watch a football game. Neither my husband nor I had “indulged” in watching sports on Sundays before. My husband and I had a conversation about this afterwards.

Is it okay to do things on Sundays—or not?

Let’s look into the principle of the Sabbath rest in the Bible and see if we can come to some kind of a conclusion. Are you ready?

The Fourth Commandment says, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).

This is the Old Testament Law, and it explains exactly what was expected: people and even load-bearing beasts were expected not to work on the Sabbath Day—which was Saturday. It was a holy day, meant for worship.

Further, Exodus 31:15b says, whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Let’s go to the New Testament now.

Matthew 12:1- tells the story of Jesus’ disciples plucking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. The Pharisees saw this and criticized them to Jesus for breaking the Jewish law and “working” on the Sabbath. Jesus answered them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day (verses 3-8). So, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and even in the Old Testament, there were times when people broke these laws but were blameless.

Matthew 12 continues to address this subject: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him (Jesus), saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days (verses 10-12). Here, we see that Jesus says it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.

There was a blind man, and Jesus made clay and healed him on the Sabbath. Again, the Pharisees were critical. They said, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them (John 9:16; Complete story in verses 6-16).

After the resurrection of Jesus, believers began to gather for worship on the first day of the week, Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).

The Apostle Paul addresses convictions about eating meat offered to idols and the Sabbath in Romans 14. I believe it’s important for us to know what the Bible says. (I’ll skip the part about food.) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it…. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Romans 14:5-12).

What a concept! If you make Sunday a special rest day or if you don’t, you are responsible to God alone for your actions. No one should judge you whether you do or don’t. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

We find this same teaching in another passage: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days (Colossians 2:16).

The truth is, everyone needs to rest, or they will burn out physically. It’s also true that the New Testament leaves it up to you how you observe Sundays and when you relax.

Thoughts?  Please feel free to comment.

Is it ever okay to lie?

Many think so. I mean, what’s wrong with a little bit of misleading communication so that you a surprise party is successful? What’s wrong with lying to the enemy in wartime? It must be okay to tell white lies in order to smooth over a volatile situation, or sell something, or….

Is it ever okay to lie?

My grandmother used to call lies fibs. I thought it was hilarious, because my dad would make sure we children knew she was talking about lying.

Many people think some lies are fine, and other kinds of lies aren’t. Where should a Christian draw the line?

There are several ways the Bible answers this question. After sharing them, we’ll ask some questions at the end. Are you ready?

One of the Ten Commandments (God’s moral law) states, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour (Exodus 20:16). This basically prohibits slandering or lying about someone.

Does this prohibit lying altogether?

In my recent study of Proverbs, I came across this passage: These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (6:16-19). Two of the seven abominations are lies. These are things that God hates.

Let’s find the source of lying. Jesus said, Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44). From this verse, we see that untruths and lies are straight from the devil, along with murder. The devil is a deceiver, because he began telling lies in the first place. Remember his subtle lies to Eve?

We can contrast lying with the opposite, which is truth.

Jesus is truth. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

The Holy Spirit is truth. Jesus said, But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me (John 15:26).

God the Father is truth. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he (Deuteronomy 32:4).

The Bible is truth. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17).

The church represents truth. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

What about mild deceptions? Are they okay when they’re for good reasons, like birthday parties, for example?

It’s interesting to note how many times deceipt is connected to wicked people. In the book of Proverbs, we read:

  • The wicked worketh a deceitful work (11:18).
  • The counsels of the wicked are deceit (12:5b).
  • Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil (12:20a).
  • The folly of fools is deceit (14:8b).
  • Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips (Proverbs 24:28).
  • So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport? (26:29) Only kidding!
  • About transgressors: He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin (26:24, 28).

Let’s set up a hypothetical situation. You live in a place in the world where there’s conflict. The enemy comes to the door of your home and asks, “Is your father home?” He is.

If you say yes, the enemy will come in and carry him away. You may never see him again.

If you lie and say no, the enemy will probably come in and look for your father anyhow.

You could keep your mouth closed, refuse to answer, and possibly be mistreated for doing so. That’s another option.

What should you do?

What do you think?

Are lies ever acceptable behavior for a Christian? Do you have a Scripture to back up your opinion?

I would love to have a lively, non-condemning discussion. I reserve the right not to publish unkind comments, but Walking in the Way welcomes honest opinions, both pro and con.