Daily Encouragement: Counselor’s Corner by Stephanie R. Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC :You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
We all have difficult people in our lives. As a Christian, it can be challenging to know how to cope with a difficult person-especially if they are a Christian!
A difficult person can be defined as one who repeatedly causes harm to self or others, takes little or no responsibility for their actions or lives, expects others to fix, solve, rescue, or help continually, they are not genuine but are known to be dishonest or not trustworthy, and uses manipulative tactics to gain what they desire. A difficult person may talk a lot about what they are going to do, but you rarely see evidence of their talk turning into action. Difficult people rarely keep their word. You learn not to expect anything from the difficult person because they are not known for keeping promises.
A difficult Christian can be the fore mentioned listed and as well as have “bad fruit.” You will know them by their fruits they produce. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of righteousness in terms of the character we have and the way that we live our lives. In contrast to the fruit of the spirit, the Apostle Paul listed the opposite kind of fruit people can produce, calling these “works of the flesh,” these include: adultery, fornication, lewdness, uncleanliness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, murder, drunkenness, revelries and the like.
We are responsible to produce the fruit of the spirit in our lives (joy, peace, love, long suffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness), but we must also be responsible to discern the fruit produced by others.
How do we avoid judging another wrongly? We evaluate the consistent actions in a person’s life.
Jesus warned us to put people to the test by examining their actions. Jesus told us not to just pay attention to people’s words, but look at how they live. If we look at the actions of the difficult person or people in our lives rather than their words alone; we may not get misled!
Jesus dealt with many difficult people while on earth. Jesus was never prideful or superior, but He showed authority under control. Jesus dealt with difficult people by rebuking some, remaining silent when needed, pointing some to scriptures, and trying to teach some.
Reflect and ponder: Do you have anyone difficult in your life, perhaps a difficult Christian? How do you deal with that difficult person? Do you tend to be persuaded by people’s words or do you observe their behavior?
Counselor’s Corner: Should you continue to allow the difficult person in your life or should you step away for a time and let them go into God’s capable hands?
Some questions to consider:
1. Have you been attempting to help the difficult person in your life repeatedly either through finances, teaching/guiding, or rescuing from their consequences? The key word is repeatedly. There is a time to help but if the helping becomes chronic or the help never really helps, it is time to stop!
2. Do you tend to get agitated, frustrated, tense, or stressed when dealing with the difficult person in your life?
3. Do you lose your peace quickly and end-up with feelings of regret because you lose your peace with the difficult person in your life?
4. Do you struggle with guilt, condemnation, or feel manipulated by the difficult person in your life?
5. How is your life better because the difficult person is in your life? In other words, do they add value to your life or take away value?
6. Does the difficult person in your life take from you instead of the relationship being reciprocal? Is the relationship one-sided? It is okay to help someone who is down on their luck for a time, but if the helping becomes a pattern and the relationship is now one-sided; it is time to reelevate the relationship.
7. Has the difficult person in your life continually broken your trust and they would like to automatically gain your trust without consistent behavioral changes? Trusting someone with a history of breaking trust without first seeing the evidence of their changes, would be unwise and foolish. My recommendation is for someone with repeated cycles of difficult behavior, to allow at least a full year of observing their actions (not words) to determine if the relationship can be safe for you. In the meantime, make sure you have truly forgiven the difficult person or people in your life, pray daily for them, and speak God’s word over them. If you are married, I am in no way supporting divorce but there are sometimes that you have to be separate if there has been repeated issues of infidelity or abuse.
8. If you have implemented boundaries with the difficult person in your life, yet somehow, they seem to cross those boundaries- it is time to enforce a consequence. To punish the difficult person? No! but to guard your heart. You can truly love people from a distance, and in many cases, it is best to love from afar, until you know it is safer to engage. You love people from a distance by speaking blessings over them, praying for them, and
9. If being around the difficult person in your life causes you to sin in anyway, this relationship probably is not good for you. You have to ask yourself, “I’m I a good influence in this person’s life or do they influence me (not for good)? Do I tend to get confused when I am around this person?
10. Does this relationship drain you physically, mentally, spiritually, or even financially? Do you feel burdened when dealing with the difficult person or people in your life?
11. If you stayed your distance for a time would you have a better appreciation for that person that is difficult for you, and would you have peace and overall sanity?
Family should be our safe haven, but sometimes it is the place that causes our deepest heartaches. Very often we can have difficult family members. Not everyone’s family is safe, supportive, or healthy. Not all families are built on mutual respect. Some families simply are not safe. Some unhealthy families refuse to communicate and thus cause undue tensions to escalate.
MEDITATE ON THESE SCRIPTURES:
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Every good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.