Response to a problem

How should we respond to people who are getting on our nerves?

Once Jesus told a parable about an unmerciful servant who acted harshly to his servant and refused to forgive his debts when he was forgiven much by his own master.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Look at how this man reacted to his problem. As soon as he found his servant he grabbed him and choked him. He demanded him to pay back. This means his servant was bothering in his mind for long time. As soon as he saw him he exploded. He reacted. That was a very rude response by a man who was forgiven much by his own master. This was not grace culture. He had no mercy, no grace, no faith, no patience and certainly no wisdom.

But look at how Isaac responded when faced with a problem. Isaac settled in a place called Gerar. He became very wealthy because God blessed him. One day the king said to him, “Move away from us because you have become too powerful.” The king was acting in insecurity. In life you will come across people who feel insecure because of God’s blessing on you. Sometimes they want to get rid of you. In such situations what should be your response?

The bible says,

So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him.

The meaning of the Hebrew word “Esek” means “DISPUTE”.

Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.

The meaning of the Hebrew word “Sitnah” means “OPPOSITION”.

“He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarrelled over it. He named it Rehoboth,[e] saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

The meaning of the Hebrew word “Rehoboth” means “ROOM”.

What does this story teach us? Move away from insecurity, dispute and opposition until you find a room for yourself to flourish. Don’t waste time disputing with people. Don’t waste time with people who oppose you because of insecurity. Move away in grace. Someone said, “MEEKNESS IS NOT A WEAKNESS”. When someone wants to have a fight with you and you are not interested that doesn’t mean you are weak. Also showing your power by fighting doesn’t mean you are powerful. God wants you to lead a peaceful and quiet life. Paul said to Romans “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life:”

In another instance he said,

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

God wants you to live a quiet life! Many times we want to prove we are right. We want to prove others are wrong. But look at what the bible says, “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.”

It says, “to do” and not “to prove”!

Don’t waste your time arguing or quarrelling with people. It’s waste of time and energy. Be a man/woman of peace and be a man/woman of grace.

Abraham and Lot lived in the same city and ”quarrelling arose between Abram’s servants and Lot’s servant.”

Abraham’s response to this problem was gracious. He said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarrelling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

Be a man of peace like Abraham and try to avoid quarrelling. Abraham was so generous that he let Lot chose the way first. Many times in conflicts like this we want to have the best portion. We want to have the best result. But Abraham let Lot chose the place first. Abraham knew the principle: The blessing was not in the land but the blessing was on Abraham. Wherever Abraham went the land prospered. We don’t have to fight for a specific blessing. We are the blessing and whatever we chose and wherever we go God will bless the work of our hands.

So let us be a man and woman of peace and avoid quarrelling with people. In times of crisis like these our focus should be peace. Our focus should be that we shouldn’t stoop down to low level and lose our character. We should maintain the perspective God has given us. God wants us to be like Isaac and move away from dispute and opposition. God wants us to find a place of peace. Psalms 23 says “He leads me besides still waters.”

Going back to that story of unmerciful servant, that man had a very small mindset. In fact he was a fool. The King forgave him a debt which was 10,000 bags of gold worth. In modern day terms, this is worth millions of dollars. But he was fighting for 100 silver coins which is worth few hundreds of dollars. Where is 100 dollars before a million dollars? What a petty mindset! Thats how sometimes we behave in life. We argue and fight for small things, petty things, that is not worth. We fight small battles and we spend all our energy, time and effort in fighting these small things.

Because that man was so bothered about the 100 dollars, the king took back that million dollars. Not only that, he lost his character as people were watching him, he lost his future as he was put in prison. So don’t let small issues eat the million dollars you have. Don’t let small issues spoil your future. Don’t sell your character for the sake of small things. Don’t destroy your future for the sake of insignificant things. Have a big mindset and learn to overlook small things.

This is very important in marriage. God wants us to forgive, forget and move forward. Don’t carry bitterness and anger. Un-forgiveness is like an acid. In due time it will erode the vessel that carries it. Your life and your marriage will be spoiled by these bitterness and anger. You might think this is a small issue. But many small issues buried in your hearts in due time will erode your marriage and destroy your family. Don’t carry bitterness and anger. Forgive your spouse and make a fresh start everyday.

Imagine this man now sitting in the prison and thinking over what went wrong in his life. Few hours before that incident he had everything. He was forgiven a million dollars in debt. He had a new start and a bright future. But now he lost everything and he lost his testimony.  He lost his character and now sitting in a prison. He is thinking and reflecting what went wrong. He would have thought “May be I shouldn’t have made this a big issue. May be I shouldn’t have reacted that way.”

But unfortunately it is too late. He lost everything. Don’t lose everything in life because of an uncontrollable rage over petty things. Imagine when you wake up one morning, you are alone and your spouse is gone with a note saying, “Sorry it’s over”. Or you are going to your office and they are saying, “sorry we have to suspend you because of your character”. 

Don’t lose your future and end up in “prison” because of lack of perspective in life. Don’t lose your family, job and church because of petty fights. Don’t carry bitterness. Always forgive, forget and move forward. Learn to respond to problems with grace.

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