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PASTORS' DAILY DEVOTIONAL
Jun
26

Difficult People

Jon Burgess

Scripture

24A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. 2 Timothy 2:24-26

Observation

We get upset about the wrong things. Paul is exhorting his protege Timothy to not get upset that people are difficult but rather that they are damned to an eternity in hell if we do not reach their hearts. It was clear that there were some folks in Timothy's church that jumped on his last nerve and he was ready to write them off. Paul is reminding Timothy that he isn't there to love those who are easy to love. Ministering people to freedom is not for the faint of heart. Paul reveals that these "difficult people" are trapped and "held captive" to the enemies whims and ways. We can't give up on them until they are free just as Jesus never gave up on us no matter how difficult we were... and are.

Application

I always laugh when I read Jonah 4: "1This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. 2So he complained to the Lord about it". He was getting upset about the wrong thing. He was upset that a people so evil as Ninevah could be saved through repentance. He was upset that now he looked like a fool of a prophet because the destruction he promised would not come pass. Now, he was upset that his plant died. Just like Paul with Timothy, the Lord had to straighten out Jonah's priorities: 0Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?” The irony is that God's minister was being much more difficult than the sinners in Ninevah. Jonah fought God's heart every step of the way and if we aren't careful, modern day Christians can do the same. There's so much vitriol, anger, and defensiveness in the church today in reaction to a hostile world. We are so upset that people who don't know Jesus are acting like sinners, doing and saying sinful things and despising our Christian way of life. They are the ones who are trapped. We are the ones who are free and yet we are the ones who are being difficult when it comes to God's desire to extend mercy and grace and forgiveness to those who are undeserving. Could it be because we have forgotten that we too are undeserving? Why is that God practically has to twist our arm to get us to share hope or grace or Gospel with those outside of our Christian bubbles. LikeTimothy we are loudly arguing and barely listening. Like Jonah we are complaining a lot and caring little. Instead of running from difficult people who we have neither the time or patience for maybe we could see them the way Christ does... worth dying for. A quick example is how often we describe Millennials as difficult. Yet, according to the most recent Barna Group research, "While the evangelistic practices of all other generations have either declined or remained static in the past few years, Millennials are the only generation among whom evangelism is significantly on the rise. Their faith-sharing practices have escalated from 56% in 2010 to 65% in 2013. Not only that, but born again Millennials share their faith more than any other generation today. Nearly two-thirds (65%) have presented the Gospel to another within the past year, in contrast to the national average of about half (52%) of born again Christians." So, it turns out this "difficult" generation has something to teach the rest of when it comes to compassion and evangelism in a difficult cultural climate.

Prayer

Lord, forgive me for putting limits on Your love. Forgive me for forgetting how much you have forgiven me of and how much You have loved me through so many difficult attitudes. Forgive me for choosing to quarrel over showing The Cross. For choosing defensiveness over developing relationships with those who are unbelievers. Break my heart for those who do not yet know you. Help me to see past the cultural facades and see the captives souls crying to be free even if it seems they are yelling in my face.


Devotions for June 26

Jonah 1,2,3,4
2 Timothy 2

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