Craig Groeschel - Dealing With Those People
Well, today, I wanna talk to you about, Those People. Now, just for fun, raise your hand if you think you might know who I'm talking about when I say, "Those people," raise your hand. Yeah, don't point at them because they are crazy, and they're everywhere. If you don't know who I'm talking about when I say, "Those people," I'll tell you. Those people can be challenging. Those people are often critical, they can be controlling, they're often incredibly arrogant at times, those people can be really, really mean. Those people, they know everything about everything, and they're gonna tell everybody every chance they get. Who knows what I'm talking about when I say, "Those people". You'll see them shouting up a storm, we can have it on social media, you'll see them spreading the rumors at the office, there's almost always one now at every big family gathering, it's almost like a spiritual principle, you get all the relatives in there and there's gonna be one those person in the house.
And if you say there's not one in your family, it's probably you, they're everywhere. They're everywhere, in fact, years ago, I did a message series called, "Those People," and we have the artwork from "Those People," and true story there's a lady that just went off, upset, furious, ticked, where they're like, "What are you doing preacher talking about those people, that's not a Christian thing to do. Who are those people? Who are you trying to say? What do you mean by those people? You're supposed to be a man of God, man of God wouldn't talk about those people, I don't wanna hear, don't talk about those people, who are those people anyway? You shouldn't talk about those people". And I just looked on and smiled and thought, "You're gonna be a sermon illustration one day". Like, "You are so those people". And so, that's why today, I wanna talk to you about dealing with those people, in a way that honors, who they are and shows the love of God. And so, if you join me today in prayer, that would mean so much.
Father, we thank you for your grace for all of us. And we recognize that we all need your love and your mercy in a world that's easily angered and easily offended, God, may we be a light, may we be a voice of love and hope and compassion. We pray that you would equip us with your word, bring healing, where there's hurt and that we could show the love of Jesus in all that we do, all God's people say today, amen, amen, we pray this in Jesus name.
As followers of Jesus, we know that we're called to love. We're called to love everybody, and we're called to love those people. Admittedly, some of those people are a little more difficult to love today than ever before, 'cause there's so many complications in the world and there's so much tension. And so, if you find yourself like I do, easily frustrated or often angry or even offended, I want to let the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians, chapter four, starting in verse 26, speak into your heart today. We'll read through a long portion of scripture and then we'll come back and read verse by verse. This is what Paul said, inspired by the Holy Spirit he said, "In your anger do not sin. Don't let the sun go down while you're still angry and do not give the devil a foothold. Don't let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice".
Scripture teaches us to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you. Let's start at the top and work our way through this text. The word of God says this, "In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you're still angry and do not give the devil a foothold". This verse is power packed, and it starts by saying, "In your anger do not sin," which implies the fact that it must not be a sin to be angry, which is really good news if you find yourself angry. And chances are that you might. If you go out anywhere and interact with people today, if you go online and interact with people today, if you open up a news app and read the stories today, chances are somewhere, somehow, you will be offended even today. And I try to remind myself over and over and over again that there is simply no win in being offended. There's no victory, there's no win. I've never found my life to become more joyful, when I'm ticked off about what somebody said to me.
My marriage has never gotten better, when I'm angry at some injustice in this world. I've never gotten closer to God, I've never had more intimate conversations when I've walked around with ongoing unforgiveness, towards someone who hurt me in my life. And so, I need to remember that there is no win in living offended, but I'm likely to be offended so what do I do? Well, I tell myself this, that being offended is inevitable, but living offended is a choice. Being offended is gonna happen, I'll probably offend you, someone else is gonna offend you, you may not get out of the parking lot today without some other Christian offending you with their driving. Being offended is inevitable, but living offended is a choice, it's going to happen, but you can still choose how you respond to an offense.
And so, that perhaps is one of the reasons why the apostle Paul is telling us, you gotta be really, really careful. Because if you hold on to anger, and if you're always nurturing an offense, and if you're rehearsing, the hurts, what you're actually doing is you're giving the devil, you're giving Satan the father of lies and the prince of darkness, you're giving him what scripture calls a foot hold in your life. You're giving him a foothold. I did some research on the word foothold, I always thought of a foothold, kind of like if you're walking into a room and there was a door and you put your foot in the door and that keeps your foot in the door. Or I thought of like, maybe if you're rock climbing, a foothold might be when you throw your foot up and you put it in a little crevice, it's like a little crevice. The word in the Greek is different. The word in the Greek is Topos. And this word literally means a place or a room. In other words, if you go on and live in your anger, you're giving the devil a place in your heart, or you're giving him room to work in your life.
And I don't know about you, but I don't wanna give the devil any access to anything that matters to me. I don't want my anger or my offense or my sense that that's wrong in this world to give the devil access to attack anything that's close to me. I don't wanna give him access to my marriage, to Amy. I don't want him to attack the intimacy that we have. I don't wanna give the devil the ability to attack my children and come into their lives and maybe even divide us. I don't wanna give the enemy the ability to attack my friends, the people that I do life with, and I don't wanna give the devil access to my church. If I live in anger and harbor bitterness and live easily offended, scripture says you're giving your spiritual enemy access to your life. So, I got to thinking, sometimes I like to try to figure out what our spiritual enemy might try to do to attack us. Because scripture says that the devil and the demons, they actually have schemes against you. And I started to think, what would I do if I were in a brainstorming meeting in hell?
So I know it's kind of stupid, but let's just say we're in there with a bunch of demons, and the assignment is to break the heart of God and hurt God's people. What would we try to do as the forces of darkness to break the heart of God and to hurt God's people? And so I came up with what I call the three Ds of destruction. If I were a demon, and trying to scheme against God, I would try to divide families, friends, and churches. I would try to bring division as much as I could into families and friends and churches, and honestly, if I were a demon, it would be easier to do that today than ever before right? All you gotta do is get them talking about politics, or you gotta throw in there some racial division with people, with misunderstandings and very toxic opinions, you might throw in there, some vaccine stuff or some mass stuff and have bright misunderstanding and before long, if you did that, you could actually destroy friendships and you could have family members that stopped talking to each other and you could ruin marriages and you could split churches.
If I were a demon, I try to divide Christians because when Christians are united, they're unstoppable, but when they're divided, they're weak and ineffective. I would try to divide the body of Christ. The second thing that I would do is I would distract Christians from their mission. I would try to distract them. I'd get them arguing about anything, just anything, anything in culture, I'd get them to boycott some business, I'd get them angry about some sin, I'd get them complaining about the latest Netflix series that all they hate, and then other people don't hate it as much as they do, I'd get them complaining that other Christians, or complaining about that horrible Netflix series that has all that bad stuff in them. And if I couldn't get the normal stuff that gets them distracted, I would just use like Instagram and get them, you know, comparing with everybody else and arguing over senseless stuff and sending conspiracy videos one to another, do you have that guy in your life group? I don't know, I think they... I would try to distract Christians from their mission. I would try to divide them.
And finally, I'd try to discredit their witness. Ooh! I'd try to discredit their witness. And this would be relatively easy to do, I'd get them focusing on what they're against, and I'd get them arguing about whatever they're mad about, and my goal would be to keep them angry, critical, judgmental, hypocritical, self-centered, self-righteous easily offended and ticked at the entire world that's what I would do. And when I look at that strategy, and when I look at what I see in the world, I think that the forces of darkness are active using anger to discredit and weaken the body of Christ. If I were a demon, I'd try to divide, discredit and distract. And we see that happening all the time. and it's not just like out there, but we actually see it happening close to home right now. We see it happening in family members, we see it happening in the church and the body of Christ, we see some of the people that should be the most loving being incredibly mean and harsh in ways that hurt so many people. And that's why there's a part of this verse that I don't want you to miss at all.
Ephesians 4:26 tells us this, it tells us, not to let the sun go down while you're still angry. Don't let the day come to an end, when you're still harboring an offense against someone, don't let the sun go down while you're still angry. In other words, this verse implies something powerful that the day of your hurt should also be the day of your healing. The same day that someone offends you should be the very same day that as a follower of Jesus, you're working to bring reconciliation into that relationship. And this honestly has been a principle that's helped our marriage of over 30 years, be strong in the way it is. And I give my bride Amy credit for this, because early on in our marriage, she just said, "We're not gonna go to sleep mad, ever". Now notice, I didn't say we're not gonna go to bed mad, because we'll go to bed mad, but she won't let us go to sleep mad, like ever. And it can be annoying, like, "Let's just sleep we'll deal with this tomorrow," "No". And this has helped.
You know, what's interesting, and this is a side note, I don't know how this is possible, but those of you that are married you'll know it's incredibly true. No one ever trains you in the rules of warfare, you don't learn it in a premarital class, but the moment you fight in bed, there are unwritten rules that you all intuitively know and live by. There are ways that you gain points and there ways that you lose points. You gain points by being back to back, you have to be back to back. You gain a point by huffing. You gain a point by throwing your shoulder violently away from the other person, you gain an extra half point by bringing the covers with them. You lose points, if your feet drift into enemy territory. You ain't touching my toe, you ain't getting toe for the next rest of your life, you getting no toe.
And then you lose if you do something godly like talk first, right? These are the rules, how do we know them? I don't know, but you intuitively know them when you get married and so when we first got married, we had been married for three years when we got in our first fight and then we made up for lost time. And it was a big, big fight and Amy said, "We're not gonna go to sleep until we settle this". We got in a fight on Sunday, we didn't sleep till Thursday. I'm just exaggerating a little, but not by much. How different do you think our friendships would be, and our families would be, and the body of Christ would be if on the day that I offended you, I owned it and apologized and said, "Would you please forgive me"? Or the day you offended me, I had the grace as I've been so often forgiving to choose to forgive you. Or the day that we had a misunderstanding, or an agreement, or a hurt, that we both said, "Hey, let's just let that thing go".
How different do you think the world would be that if on the same day of the hurt, as followers of Jesus, we worked toward the healing? Don't let the sun go down while you're still angry, 'cause you don't wanna give the devil access to divide, to distract or discredit you, from being who God is calling you to be.
Let's read on in scripture, verse 29. The word of God says this, "Don't let any unwholesome talk, come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen". How you doing with that? Don't let anything unwholesome come out of your mouth. No belittling, no bad badmouthing, no criticizing, no gossiping, no name calling, neither a bunch of idiots, don't let anything come out of your mouth, except, for what is helpful to build others up, to encourage, to be a blessing, I'll give you some rules that we've tried to live by not just in our marriage, but certainly in our marriage, but with our family, with our small group, with people that we don't get along with well. And I give you six suggestions that I think might be helpful in your relationships, not to let the wrong things come out of your mouth.
The first thing is this, we're gonna never call names. There is no reason, no excuse, to be dishonoring and deter anybody down by calling names.
Another suggestion would be never raise your voice. No one has ever been changed by someone who's yelling, people are changed when we're loving in our voice. And by the way, if you're sending a text to me or commenting online, don't use capital letters because I hear that as yelling, stop yelling at me, lowercase is loving, capital letters send you to hell where the one, never dies, and there's weeping and gnashing of teeth, there's forgiveness at the foot of the cross, just come and repent today.
The next suggest is this, never get historical, not hysterical, but historic. We're not gonna go back in time and say, "Remember what you did and back in then that, and then you did this, you did that"? Never call names, never raise your voice, never get hysterical and then never say never, or always, you never do this, you always do that. That's just not true, and it's not helpful.
And for those of you that are married, I would suggest this, never threaten divorce, that's not coming up in our house, and most important rule is this never quote your pastor during a fight. Just don't do it, just leave me out of it okay? I know my quotes are good, but please don't quote me in a fight.
To summarize my helpful tips on relationships I would summarize it this way. Don't let any unwholesome talk, come out of your mouth, but only that, which is helpful for building others up, speaking directly into their needs.
Now, if you're like me, when you find yourself angry, I'm tempted to justify my anger. I'm tempted to defend it. And I would say this well, they hurt me and so they're wrong and I'm right. They betrayed me, and so they're wrong and I'm right. And so I'd say my anger is a righteous anger. And I've used that word before, and you could probably argue there's a time to be righteously angry, but let's just unpack it for a little bit and ask ourselves, do we wanna stick with the metaphor of righteous anger for a moment? Is there any other destructive force because anger is a fire, anger is a rage, anger is destructive, is there any other destructive force in scripture that we like to call righteous?
Think about other sins. Does anybody ever brag about their righteous greed? Oh, I've just got righteous greed. I just want more and more and more, all for me myself and I it's a righteous greed that God gave me. They don't do that right? Does anybody ever talk about, I'm just battling with righteous lust. I mean, it's just a righteous lust I mean God made me this way. Right? Somebody would to do that, no. Have you ever heard anybody talk about their righteous gluttony? I mean, I'm just gonna eat the whole thing for the glory of God, it's a righteous gluttony. No, so do we want to justify our anger and try to say it's righteous if we do, and you can make that decision for yourself, here's what we're supposed to do with all anger, even righteous anger.
Verse 31, says, "Get rid of all bitterness. Get rid of all rage. Get rid of all anger and brawling and slander". It's almost like Paul's like, "God, I'm gonna name everything I can just to get through to you. If you're trying to give me a loophole, I'm gonna fill in your loophole along with every other, if I left anything out, every other form of malice". And then in verse 32, he says something profound. And let me tell you what he doesn't say, you're ready for what he doesn't say? You're ready? If you're ready to say, "I'm ready". Are you ready? He doesn't say, be arrogant about your moral superiority, he doesn't say, be critical of everyone who thinks differently from you, he doesn't say, be harsh because you're dealing with idiots, what he says is, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you".
Can you let this sink in for just a moment? What are we to be? We're to get rid of anger, and slander, and malice, and instead we should be kind, and compassionate, and forgiving. Question, where can you be kind compassionate and forgiving? And the answer is, you actually have to be up close. It's almost impossible to be way far off and be kind. I'm being kind to you over there. I'm having a compassion for you, I feel for you, I really, really do. I forgive you, but I don't wanna be close to you. You actually have to be close in proximity. One of the challenges I see with the church at large today, is it's really easy to shout truth from a distance. And here's where you're wrong, and here's where I'm right, and I wanna make a difference.
It's easy to shout truth from a distance, but it takes time to love up close. It's incredibly ineffective to shout and to be angry from a distance, it's incredibly effective to be slow to speak, quick to listen, slow to become angry, to get into someone else's world, to understand their hurts, to understand their fears, to have compassion for a different way of thinking, instead of trying to be right all the time and forfeiting God's call to be loving. Are we not better than that? Get close. Listen, when's the last time you just listened to someone who's incredibly different from you and loved them, even though they're incredibly different from you? Be kind and compassionate. It's easy to hurl truth from a distance. It takes time, it takes work, it takes effort to love somebody up close. So, shake that off.
I have a friend who is one of those people. Oh my gosh, he's such one of those people. This guy, he's always right. I mean about everything. He's right about everything. He's right about how church should be done, he's right about what theology is right, and what all those other churches are doing wrong including me, he knows how everybody should spend their money, and they're all a bunch of idiots except for him, he's right about how everybody should raise their kids, he knows what the government does wrong, he knows the truth about COVID and his sources are all right. They're all right. He listens to the right doctors and the right politicians, and he is so right. Some of you say, "We must have the same friends, you know him too". He's right about everything.
Finally, I just told him one day, he's like, "I am so amazed I can't believe I get to be friends with you. Like out of almost eight billion people in the world, you are the smartest guy that's ever lived. You're right about everything". And honest to goodness, you're like, are you gonna offend him? He's not gonna know I'm talking about him. He'll listen to this and just smile and go, "Yeah, that other idiot," because he has no idea he's one of those people. He is totally and completely one of those people. And he has no idea whatsoever. And then it dawned on me. What if I'm one of those people too? Because let's just be honest like, I know a lot about a lot. I am the guy in the mic telling you how to do your life. What if am one of those people? And what if you are too? Because I can guarantee you, there's a little bit of self righteousness in all of us. And that's why it's incredibly important to pray a really dangerous, really humbling and really God honoring prayer, found in Psalm 139 verses 23 and 24.
I dare you to pray, "Search me God, and know my heart. Test me, God and know my anxious thoughts". And then this part really gets to me, "God, see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting". God search my heart. God, show me where I'm arrogant. Show me where I'm judgmental. Show me where I'm self deceived. God, show me where I'm a harboring anger against a group of people or against an individual. God, show me where I'm carrying an offense. Show me where I'm not being kind where I'm not being compassionate, and where I'm not being forgiving and God help me get rid of all anger, and malice, and slander. Be kind and compassionate, because I don't wanna give the devil any access to my heart, to my marriage, to my children, to my friends or to my church, because when you live in anger, you give the devil a place, a room, a foothold, and your spiritual enemy wants to divide and wants to distract and wants to discredit and wants to destroy.
And what I've found is this, being offended as inevitable. But because of the grace and the goodness of God, living offended is a choice. And in the same way, I've been forgiven. I wanna choose to be more forgiving, because I don't know about you, but my life has never been better when I've been angry. And I've never made a big difference when I'm in my flesh. And I've never been more loving when I've been easily offended. And what I've noticed is this, that every single minute that I'm angry, I lose a minute of joy. And every single minute that I'm angry, I lose a minute of peace. And every single minute that I'm angry, I lose a minute where I could make a difference in the life of someone else. And that's why I know being offended, it's inevitable. It's gonna happen. But living offended is a choice.
And scripture tells us this, "Hey, if you do get angry, don't go to bed, let's take it before God, let's deal with it. 'Cause we don't wanna give the devil any room in our lives". And as followers of Jesus, we have a higher calling. We're not gonna just shout truth from a distance, but we're gonna get up into the lives of people, we're gonna hurt with them, we're going to work through some things with them, you know how we're gonna do it? We are gonna be kind, and we're gonna be compassionate to one another. And we're gonna forgive others just as Jesus forgives us. And if we can do that, we can keep the devil out, and we can keep the spirit in and we can make a difference. A divided world needs a united church. A dark world needs a church full of brightness. We're not gonna let unwholesome talk come out of our mouth, but only that which is helpful for building others up. We're not here to make a point, we're here to make a difference. We make a difference with the love of Jesus.
So Father, I pray that you would do a healing work in our hearts. And I know those people drive us crazy, but I know there are times that we are those people. And so God, we ask you to search our hearts today and all of our churches, if you're open to the Holy Spirit, doing a corrective work in your heart, and you'll just pray, pray that prayer with me, search me God, see if there's any offensive way in me.
If you'll do that in just a moment, I'm gonna ask you if you'll just lift up your hands and say, yes, I'll pray it, I'll pray it. Just lift up your hands right now, all of our churches on online, you can say, I'll pray it, and we're gonna pray it right now. I'll say it and you just pray and say:
"Search me, God. Test my heart. Test my heart. See if there is any anxious way in me. See if there's any offenses in me. Show me God. Humble me God. Lead me in the ways of everlasting. Help me to be kind. Compassionate. And forgiving others. As you have forgiven me". Father we ask that you would lead us, God, you would, by the power of your spirit, help the words that we speak, only lift others up. May we be a voice of encouragement, a voice of healing, and God, when we do speak the truth, help us to speak the truth in love. Always in love.
As you keep praying today, I wanna talk to you about the love of God. If you look at God and look closely, you'll actually recognize He's consistent, but He's complicated. There is a righteousness of God, and although God is loving, He also hates sin. It breaks His heart, it makes Him angry. And because sin is against everything that He is, God is Holy, and sin, it breaks the heart of God, it dishonors God, therefore He hates sin. And the problem is we've all sinned, all of us. And so God, in His love for us, He did something we could never do for ourselves. He sent His son, Jesus, the sinless, perfect son of God. And when we say, if you've ever heard it before Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we say it, but we often don't understand what that means.
Jesus on the cross He became sin for us. The one who was sinless became the very thing that God hated. And God judged that sin on the cross and Jesus died as the perfect sacrifice, God poured out His wrath, all of His anger and hatred toward that on Jesus. And Jesus the innocent son died in our place, the guilty ones. And that's why when God raised Jesus from the dead, He broke the power of death, hell and the grave. And when you call out on the name of Jesus, now, anything that you've ever done wrong, the sin that breaks the heart of God, God forgives that because He already judged it. He judged it on the cross, and now you step in by grace and believe that what Jesus did is enough and it counts for you. And you can be made right with God not because you've been good enough, but because Jesus was perfect and God poured out His wrath on Jesus, Jesus paid the punishment for our sin.
When someone sins someone must die and Jesus died in our place so we can live. Wherever you're watching today, there are those of you you may be under the burden of your own sin, the guilt of what you've done, I used to feel that I'd been too bad, how could God loved me? I want you to know that God loves you exactly where you are and as you are. And the only way you're made right with Him is not by your good works, but by placing your faith in Jesus, the one who is perfect in every way and all of our churches or wherever you're watching, those who say, "I want His grace," today we're stepping away from our sin, we're stepping by faith into the arms of Jesus, He is enough, He is your forgiveness, He is your salvation, He is the life that you've been longing for.
Wherever you're watching today, those who say, "Yes, I want His grace, I want His forgiveness, today I give my life to Jesus," that's your prayer, would you just lift your hand right now and say yes, just lift your hands up, as we have people today over here and all over our churches today, those of you online, you just tell us right now and say I'm surrendering my life to Jesus, and as we have tons of people in all of our churches today, would you just pray this prayer aloud, pray:
Heavenly Father. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus be first. The savior of my life. Fill me with your Spirit, so I could follow you, and serve you. Thank you for new life. I give you all of mine. Help me to show your love in every way, in all I do, I give my life to you in Jesus' name.