People problems are everywhere. There is no avoiding it. People can be mean, dishonest, lazy, hypocritical, critical, vindictive, sneaky, and a host of other negative traits. Even the best of people with the best of intentions can have problems.
In college I was taking a Homiletics class from Ford Harper, an old professor. One day he told us we were going to have a quiz at the next class time. So I thought I was ready. The quiz was actually the mid-term exam and equaled 1/3 of our semester grade. I ended up flunking that ‘quiz’. When I went in to talk to him about it, he didn’t deny saying quiz. But said I should have known it was the mid-term exam. There was definitely a lack of communication which resulted in frustration, disappointment, anger, not to mention the lowest grade I received in college.
Sometimes the problems we have with people are simply a misunderstanding. Expectations and assumptions have not been communicated correctly. Regardless of how the problems began, our attitudes are important if we want to repair a fractured relationship.
Paul had problems with some of the people in Corinth. He started the church, but over the course of time false teachers came in and turned many against him. 2 Corinthians is Paul’s letter to a divided church that was resisting his authority and influenced by false teachers. in 2 Corinthians 10 Paul tries to correct some misunderstandings. The attitudes displayed can help mend our fractured relationships.
“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:” (2 Corinthians 10:1)
The rebels in the church were saying that Paul talked a big talk in his letters, but he was timid and weak in person. They were judging on outward appearance – the flesh. Paul admitted that he was “gentle”. Paul did not battle like others – being forceful and powerful. He was gentle and humble.
When we ‘battle’ in our relationships, we often want to be demanding and strong. But it is encouraging to know that, through Jesus, we can choose to be gentle and humble. This is the best approach. In addition, we must bring every wrong thought into submission to Jesus. Don’t let your emotions rule your actions.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
How do you fight the battles of your life? Are you gentle and humble? Are you spending time in prayer and Scripture?
“For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:” (2 Corinthians 10:8)
The rebels questioned Paul’s authority as an apostle. Rather than leveraging his authority by demanding obedience, he refused to exercise it in an ungodly manner to promote himself. Paul used his authority to build up the church. The false teachers were using their authority to build up themselves. Paul considered himself a servant of God – he was a nobody though he had authority as an apostle.
It takes a lot of energy to try to impress others with who we are. But we must accept who we are in Jesus, get out of the way, and shine the spotlight on Jesus. When we submit our rights to Jesus, it is amazing how the barriers between others begins to break down.
Often our people problems are a result of fighting for power and authority. So, how do you respond to authority? How do you exercise your authority? In both, we should humbly submit to God.
“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)
The rebels were great at measuring ministry. It is easier to measure external activities than internal transformation. They felt important – legends in their own mind. But Paul measured his ministry a little different: Am I where God wants me to be (v. 13-14)? Is God glorified in my life (v. 15-17)? Can the Lord commend my work (18)? Paul surrendered the evaluation of his ministry to God.
How do you measure your importance? Is it external or internal? Is it easy to find fault in others but fail to measure your own spiritual ministry? Are you where God wants you to be? Is God glorified in your ministry? Can the Lord commend your work? Often competition creates people problems. Keep your eyes off of the accomplishments of others and focus on God.
“But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)
No one is immune to people problems. If Paul had problems with people, you surely will too. Be careful not to take problems too lightly or too seriously. Some problems need to be solved. However, some problems need to be ignored. If you need to deal with people problems, make sure you are humbly submissive and surrendered to God. Your relationship with God greatly affects your relationship with others.