I have a man that I've worked with for many years who struggles with severe alcoholism. He is a binge drinker and when he gets drunk he usually gets belligerent and violent. This man does not attend my church, will not get into a 12 step program, and has basically rejected all my counsel. Every so often he gets intoxicated and decides to call my phone late at night and impersonate the devil. He is a really lousy devil impersonator, I always know it's him. I realize that this may sound funny to people reading this, but I don't find it amusing. He is under the power of the devil and it saddens me to hear him speak like this.
It also makes me angry. In fact I thought I might run into this guy yesterday and I was ready to tell him off. I caught myself preparing my speech and the first couple editions featured some unkind words...heck they were cuss words! I had reasons all lined up. He is a big scary dude who's trying to intimidate me! He's breaking the law by making harassing phone calls! He is disrespecting the one guy who has consistently been there for him! He is, he is, he is... going to get a piece of my mind! But then I remembered Jesus. He must increase, I must decrease.
How do I let Christ into this situation? Does following Christ mean giving up on discernment? No. Should I throw caution to the wind? No. Are we ever allowed to set boundaries with people? Yep. Is there ever a point when we can cut people off? Certainly. But how do we decide what to do and when to do it? Follow the example of Jesus. Long-suffering. Gracious. Loving. Compassionate. Forgiving. Firm. Truthful. Straight shooting. Prayerful. Aware of the spiritual activity going behind the scenes.
It is clear to me upon further reflection that the devil was using this man to attack me, while abusing him. I was ticked off but he is enslaved. What would Jesus do? What does he want you to do with the difficult people in your life? Many questions, lost of answer...just remember He must increase.
Read the Bible in One Year Plan: Exodus 39-40