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When Personalities Collide Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
June 28, 2022 1:00 am

When Personalities Collide Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 28, 2022 1:00 am

Someone once said, “The church is wonderful, except for the people.” When disagreements and personal agendas rise to the surface, friction inevitably occurs. In this message from Romans 12, we discover three qualities we need so we can have grace with “difficult” people. Though we do not always get along, how should we respond?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Someone has said, the church is wonderful, it's the people in the church that I can't stand. When disagreements and personal agendas rise to the surface, restrictions can occur.

Today, we expose a not-so-secret secret. Christians don't always get along. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, as Rodney King once said, why can't we all just get along?

Yes Dave, wouldn't that be wonderful if we could just all get along? But the simple fact is that even as believers, we still have a sin nature. And not only that, we sometimes believe that we see things more accurately and more correctly than others. And so you have friction. But in the midst of it, yet there is a unity among believers that is transcendent. It is given to us by God, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

That's why it's so important for us to work toward unity. And by the way, would you consider becoming an endurance partner? Those are people who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts, and they help us expand the ministry. Here's what you can do to find more info. You go to When you're there, click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Thanks for helping us. And now let us listen to God's word. Have you ever wondered what God is doing in your life if you are a Christian?

Well, I can tell you today what he is doing. He is trying to reproduce in you some of the characteristics of Jesus. We can't have them all, but we can have some of them, like love and forgiveness and patience and faith. And so God is reproducing all that in our lives. And he does it in two different ways.

First of all, through circumstances which we can't control, sickness and a whole host of other things that are beyond the bounds of your ability to control. And secondly, people, sometimes difficult people. Talking about the person who plays the stereo too loud in your condo right next to you so that your walls shake too. Talking about the coworker who lied and betrayed you at work.

Talking about the colleague who always needs to have things come out his way or her way. And they are totally insensitive to your own needs and to your own concerns. Those are the kinds of people we're talking about. We're talking about the relatives who chiseled you out of your inheritance. The people who do you in. The people who don't even like you, who always are trying to get one up on you. Maybe your husband, maybe your wife, who has turned out to be an enemy.

That's who we're talking about. Anybody ever meet somebody like that? And maybe the person who is sitting in your chair is someone just like that. Have you ever wondered why it is that the people don't change? Why don't people just shape up and change? The answer is that most of those people I've just been describing think that they are perfectly fine, thank you very much. Those relatives who do you in, they think to themselves they're being much more gracious to you than you deserve. They are right, they think to themselves. So that's why change is so difficult.

Believe me ladies, the only time you can change a man is when he's a baby. So keep that in mind. Now today we're going to be talking about difficult people. And what I have to say is going to be very difficult. It is going to be so counter-cultural, so counter-intuitive, so against our nature that some of you are going to say, I can't even touch this because it's beyond what I'm able to do, and so it is. That's why we need the fullness of the Spirit. That's why we need the Holy Spirit to help us obey God's Word today in a very radical way, but after we've obeyed God's Word, God is going to prove his Word to be right. And I want you to write me a letter later telling me how God changed your life as a result of this message. Because we need God's help, would you join me one more time in prayer because only God can help us do what God requires us to do. Father, we ask in Jesus' name, make these transforming moments, we pray. We ask that as we think about what your Word tells us to do, enable us to do it.

Resolve tension. Bring people into deliverance. May they not be overcome by evil, but may they overcome evil with good.

But we need your help. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen. The passage of Scripture is the 12th chapter of the book of Romans, Romans chapter 12. I'm beginning today in verse 13, and very quickly all this is still by way of introduction. Paul is talking to the people in Rome through the book of Romans, and if you are here today without a Bible, your pew Bible, it's page 948.

948. Because today we're going to walk through the Scriptures, and I'm simply going to expound them to you and let the Word do the work. That's what we want to let God do through his Word. He begins in verse 9, actually, Romans chapter 12 verse 9, let love be genuine. Love is the great hallmark of the Christian because if you can't love, you must not be saved. Love is what takes us from being self-absorbed to other people absorbed.

It transfers our focus from ourselves to others and the willingness to sacrifice for them. And the actual Greek text says, let love be without hypocrisy. I like that better than even the word sincere, though of course that is the meaning. Let it be without hypocrisy.

We've all met people who aren't good, but it is very important for them to appear good. So what Paul is saying here is, be sure that it's the kind of love that isn't simply of the token kind so that you can ease your conscience, but inwardly you don't love at all. Let love be without hypocrisy. I spoke last time about those who think there are too many hypocrites in the church. If you ever find somebody who says, oh, there are too many hypocrites in your church, say, come and join us.

There's always room for one more. That would be one way to handle it. So he says, let love be without hypocrisy. Hate what is evil. Abhor what is evil.

That's a sermon in itself. I must hurry over it except to say that by nature we don't abhor what is evil. And television has desensitized us so that we don't hate what is evil at all. In fact, we may even accept what is evil. How can you abhor that which is evil when your nature loves it? You can't wake up in the morning and say, well, today I'm going to begin to abhor what is evil. That is something that God births in our hearts by giving us a passion for Jesus that is greater than our passion to sin. You'll never overcome sin unless you love Jesus more than you do your sin. So we should abhor what is evil.

It was Alexander Pope who says, vice is a monster of so frightful mean as to be hated needs but to be seen, yet seem too oft familiar with face. First we endure, then we pity, then we embrace. Abhor what is evil. Only God can do that in our hearts. And then he says cling to what is good.

All right, all that by way of introduction. We're talking about difficult people. We're talking about human relationships that are going nowhere. We're talking about living with people who always want to take advantage of us. People who whenever you tell them something, they want to take what you have told them and twisted a half turn.

We're talking about people like that. How do we handle them? Are you ready? Are you ready for what God has to say about those kinds of people? In other words, what God may be saying about you?

Are you ready? Let's begin. There are three qualities that we have to have that Jesus had that will give us the grace to be able to deal with people like that. First of all, the power, the power of blessing.

You'll notice now Paul is broadening it in verse 14 and he says bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse them. The power of blessing those who are regarded as our enemies or difficult people. To bless means that I affirm them. I may not affirm everything that they have done, but I affirm them as individuals. To bless means that I connect with them. To bless means that I am willing to give of myself.

I'm willing to accept them. And we begin the idea of blessing within our families. When you have children who are acting out, when you have problems with young women, like someone said here in Chicago who owns a joint where young women dance for men, he said they are dancing for the fathers whom they did not have. Mike Singletary asks all those in prison to whom he speaks, how many of you had a good relationship with your father? He says at one point that he has not yet seen a single hand raised.

You see if you grew up with a dad who always judged you, a dad whom you could never please, what you'll discover is that you may become a workaholic just to kind of prove who you are because you've been missing your father's blessing. So within our families we bless one another. We bless them. But also we bless our friends. Those who know me well will attest to the fact that about 90% of the time I say to people, God bless you. I say this in stores. I say this to people at the checkout counter. All of the human relationships I almost always say to them, God bless you. Most of the time they say well God bless you too or else they say thanks.

We live in a world that needs blessing. Let me tell you a story. This past week I flew to Chattanooga and I caught a cab to the airport.

12 to 15 minutes at the most with this driver. Had never seen him before. We talked about Iraq. Then he told me that he was in the Vietnam War and he said in war you just have to blow people away.

You can't have any pity. He says I killed Viet Cong. He said I went into this village because I was a gunner. They shot at me and I said you shoot at me, I'll shoot at you and he said I mowed the whole village down, everyone in the village and he described it and then he surprised me by saying and he says you know what the worst part of it all was and I said what?

He said I loved doing it. He said they wanted to kill me so I wanted to kill them and he's describing what he did and I asked how many he killed and I won't tell you the number but it was a very very high number according to his estimate. By now we're almost at O'Hare Airport and so I said to him did this affect your relationship with your family when you got back? Oh yeah he said I was mean. He said I didn't want anyone to talk with me.

He said I never beat them but I'd wake up in the night hearing shells in my dreams falling close to me and detonating and he said he said it really affected me. All right by now we are at O'Hare. I said to him before I got out of the car I said has anyone ever prayed for you? Now he didn't have to go to the trunk because I just had a very small thing with me and he said no nobody's ever prayed for me. I said you know what this is your day.

I'm sitting at the back he's sitting at the front. I put my hand on his shoulder and I prayed for him like obviously he had never been prayed for before. I asked God to bless him. I asked God to show him that he cared about him. That God was available to him to help him. I mean I prayed everything I could.

When I was finished he thanked me twice. Folks we live in a broken world out there. We live in a world that is so tragic and so broken. Why don't we become agents of blessing? Now Jesus said obviously that you should bless your families you should bless friends but you should also bless your enemies.

Notice he says bless and curse not. How do you bless the person that you're having such a hard time getting along with? What you do is you say to them you know I have been praying for you and I'd like to know how I can pray for you better that God would bless you.

Is there any request that you can share with me so that I can pray God's blessing upon your life? That's the way in which you handle difficult people. You pray that God will bless them and then you do good things for them. That's exactly what Jesus said in a passage that we discussed not too long ago when he says do good to those who persecute you. Bless those who curse you and you begin to do good things to those who are regarded as your enemies to those who have been doing you in and that's the way in which you live because that's the way Jesus lived and that's the way God is.

Bible says that he sends his reign upon the just and the unjust and gives blessing to all and that's the way in which we become children who are like our heavenly father and like Jesus who on the cross said father forgive them for they know not what they do. We bless and we do not curse. By the way I've sometimes done this with waitresses too. Wish I had enough nerve to do it more often but I will say after they say now that you have your food is there anything else I can do for you I'll say you know in a moment we're going to pray is there anything can we include you in the prayers? Is there anything that we can pray for you about?

I remember one woman who broke out in tears. You know our world is so harsh let us be people who bless and not curse. I think of my friend who works in Europe with Muslim people he received a letter from a Muslim who said cursed be your wife, cursed be you, cursed be your family, cursed be your car, cursed be your home and he wrote back and said blessed be you, blessed be your wife, blessed be your home, blessed be everything that pertains to you. Jesus said bless and do not curse. The power of blessing. Secondly the power of humility. That's what I've called verses 15 and 16. You'll notice it says rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep, live in harmony with one another, do not be haughty but associate with the lowly, never be conceited. The word humility does not occur there but that's the whole idea in those two verses.

First of all it means that we connect with people. Pride is something that we see very clearly in the lives of others but we do not see pride in our own life. It is very difficult to detect.

It always is beneath the radar. In fact I have a wonderful sermon on humility. It's a great sermon and I'm waiting for a crowd big enough to preach it to. Yesterday I took time to walk along Wells Street because the art fair is there and I saw a guy with a t-shirt who said I'm very wonderful. Now I'm going to ask you a question. Who do you think bought that t-shirt?

I venture to say he bought it all by himself. It means we connect with others. We rejoice with those who rejoice which is very difficult to do.

To weep with those who weep that's even the unsaved can weep with those who weep but can we rejoice with those who rejoice? Somebody who's always been a little bit uppity in relationship to you. A little bit bragging you know and we've all met people like that. They're like a cowboy I once knew in Texas.

He was all hat and no cows you know you you know the color right. We've all met people like that and then suddenly they get a windfall. You know they call you on the phone and they say you know my uncle died and I just inherited two million dollars. I just learned and they say let's go celebrate let's go to McDonald's and celebrate. Then you go with them to McDonald's and they expect you to pay for your own burger. Can you rejoice with them?

Oh that's difficult to do. The Bible says rejoice with those who rejoice. I've always prayed that God would enable me to rejoice over those who are more successful than I and imagine when we get to heaven Jonathan Edwards says we are going to be so free of envy that when we see those above us in the kingdom we will rejoice as if their exaltation were our own. Humility means that we rejoice with those who rejoice and we weep with those who weep and we are not conceited. You we read the text here and we associate with those who are lowly. In the early church slavery was still a problem but one of the things that the church insisted on was that the slaves sit with the owners in the same bench because they knew that to make a distinction was unscriptural. That's why James says if somebody comes into your assembly and he's got all kinds of gold chains and he's living large you don't put him in a special category.

No no no no he sits with the rest. It means impartiality. How does humility help us to get along with one another? Humility makes us realize that we do not have to insist upon our rights. We give up our right even to happiness. We give up our right to be somebody. We give up our right to be noticed and to be recognized and we give all of those rights over to God and we no longer have them and that enables us to have a different kind of relationship with people because we are now no longer obsessed with fairness.

Oh yes fairness can get us into a lot of trouble. In Matthew chapter 20 Jesus told the parable about some people who went into a vineyard and they were angry because the vineyard owner overpaid the late-comers and it wasn't fair and you and I don't have to live very long in life before we realize that life isn't fair. I'm holding in my hands a letter that we received from a professional counselor some time ago I preached a series of messages on the family and he writes I've seen so many broken families I will be sharing these messages about the family with my children to pass on the lessons of marriage a marriage that lasts. I want you to know that you have a part in these kinds of blessings and in these kinds of responses. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner that's someone who stands with us regularly with their gifts and their prayers. Of course you need more info so here's what you do go to RTW offer dot com when you're there click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. I hope today that you'll consider becoming an endurance partner.

Once again let me give you that phone number 1-888-218-9337 you can call for more information. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The afterlife in one sense we may have more questions than answers.

Here's a question from one of our many Running to Win listeners. In the case of people who die at sea if they go to Hades why is the sea giving up its dead as mentioned in Revelation? Very good question and I think I can answer that quite simply. I believe that when people die yes if they die as unbelievers they go to Hades that's what it was called in the New Testament in the Old Testament it was called Sheol. So there they are in Hades it is their soul that is in Hades that's the important thing and when the Bible says as you quote from the book of Revelation the sea gave up the dead which were in it it's talking about the bodies of the dead. So you see when someone dies today their spirit goes to Sheol if they are unbelievers or we could say Hades it's described in Luke chapter 16 by Jesus in the story of the rich man and Lazarus but their bodies go to dust. So I think that here in Revelation in the phrase that you took from the book of Revelation I think here we're talking about the resurrection of the dead and their spirits and their bodies will be reunited.

That's also true of the redeemed by the way you put someone in the grave today their body disintegrates into dust but their spirit is in the presence of God and someday at the resurrection the body and the spirit will come together and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Thank you Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear one of your questions answered go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Each of us is wired from birth to put self first. Only the Spirit of God can smooth the rough edges and help us extend ourselves in blessing to others. Next time on Running to Win more of a heartwarming story of a man who needed a friend. We'll return to Romans chapter 12 and learn how rejoicing with others can diffuse tensions. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-29 06:31:37 / 2023-03-29 06:40:29 / 9

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