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How to Handle Contentious People

You probably didn’t know the Bible had an appropriate passage about this type of person. You know them. You sit down with a group of friends and talk about your recent conversation with someone and she reminds you that she already had a previous talk with her. You say you had a nice trip to San Antonio and she spends 10 minutes telling how she lived there and was such a glorious addition to the community. You note that life has been better and she says, not a bit. Whatever you can do, she can do better or differently.

It is called contradiction which comes from two words, “contra”, against and “dict,” to speak. Contentious people want you to argue and fight. Dealing with contentious people is a test of one’s character and unfortunately you are being tested. Jesus had to contend with people like this.

Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him that endured such contradiction from sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds

Or how about this version:

Amplified Hebrews 12:3 Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.

Or this.

ERV Hebrews 12:3 Think about Jesus. He patiently endured the angry insults that sinful people were shouting at him. Think about him so that you won’t get discouraged and stop trying.

Please note that Jesus calls these people sinners and considering how they oppose you, you are not going to be the one who reaches them in your own strength. Next we note that Jesus did not speak against these folks. He endured them. That is another word for perseverance as noted in this passage.

Endurance is a virtue and one step in a process of gaining wisdom and holiness.

2 Peter 1:5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

There are many occasions when our only response is to say nothing, and do nothing but endure. Since these people want to argue your refusal to argue puts them out of business.  No argument – no problem.

Personally I had this same situation and I stopped talking to this woman on the phone.  She sent some snarky emails calling me names, positive that those attacks would get me back into her battlefield, but I ignored them for a year. Now when she calls I occasionally answer, but not always.  I am simply not available to listen to her kvetching.

When Jesus was questioned by King Herod He said not a word.  Jesus knew, and perhaps Herod also knew, that his was illegitimate authority. Herod ascended to his throne by murdering his relatives, and just about anyone else he found in his way.

Jesus, and you, do not need to answer to wrong authority, or those who are picking a fight with you. Jesus did not answer and so can we.

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