Responding to mistreatment doesn’t have to be problematic. When mistreated by others, our response should be a biblical one. In retaliation to mistreatment, the immature in Christ may resort to nasty retorts and maybe name calling; but the mature in Christ exercise patience. The response of Christians experiencing mistreatment should be gracious and without sin. There is no excuse for being rude or ugly to anyone. There are no exceptions. Even in betrayal, we are still required to remain dignified and kind towards others.
The Bible says we’re to bless those who curse us (Luke 6:28). That doesn’t mean we excuse bad behavior, but it does mean we are aware of our own attitude when confronted with people that treat us poorly.
Misery Loves Company
Some people are self-absorbed and many more are consumed with the ravages of sin. They’re so steeped in sin they don’t even realize how detached they are from basic kindness. Miserable people produce misery and misery loves company; but we’re not to keep company with misery.
Our response to mistreatment should always be kindness. God expects us to be kind to those who attack us or treat us with disdain. Responding to attacks in the flesh makes us no different than the lost. God holds us to a higher standard. Our response to mistreatment is deeper than just saying no to retaliation. When wronged, we’re to have a godly response that represents the kindness of God’s kingdom.
Gracious Under Mistreatment
When subjected to scoffing or persecution, being gracious under mistreatment is highly valued by God. There are many ways we can respond to the ugliness in some people; but aptly, the best response is usually no response at all. Jesus said nothing when he was handed over to Pilate for questioning (Matthew 27:11-14). Furthermore, He said nothing as Herod’s soldiers spit on Him and repeatedly beat Him on the head. During a time of great humiliation He remained quiet (Matthew 27:27-31).
His response to such extreme persecution indicates His trust in God. He endured persecution in obedience to the Cross. He trusted God under great suffering and He didn’t retaliate when it was justified. With rare exceptions, we will never face this level of persecution. Considering what our own Savior endured to save us from Hell, it’s not a stretch for us to extend grace to others when we are generally mistreated or even disregarded by people.
One way to respond to mistreatment is to simply ignore it. Honestly, is the effort of a retort really worth our time when we’re on kingdom business? There is a time to respond to someone with a firm rebuke – or in extreme cases, legal action; but generally, the best response is to ignore the mistreatment.
People who attack and mistreat others are often oppressed by the devil and their mistreatment has nothing to do with us. If anything, because we carry the presence of God, foul spirits oppressing another person may react (manifest) when we enter their sphere. Manifestations can occur in one on one situations or they can occur in a group setting. Sometimes a person is singled-out by more than one person; like a group attending a sporting event or members at a venue specifically excluding certain people groups.
We don’t always know the motive for mistreatment, but if it happens, ignoring it or immediately leaving the situation is a good idea.
Demons May Be the Cause of Mistreatment
Demons are especially annoyed by Christian’s who know their place of authority in Jesus and will sometimes use the person they’re oppressing to buffet us directly. It’s not uncommon for demons to react through other people when they feel threatened. For instance, anyone attempting to sabotage another in order to gain positioning or power in a group or organization may attack us personally. If that same person is also oppressed by a demon, the demon may be looking for a confrontation which may lead to our undignified response. Even an undignified response to mistreatment can be grounds for accusation from Satan. Jesus said we would be persecuted for our faith; our response to mistreatment is no exception.
What if an ungodly response from persecution blocks our blessings? We know by reading the Word that we will be tested, so we should have this in mind when we encounter mistreatment or ugliness.
Some Attacks are Spiritual
Some attacks we come under are spiritual. Mature Christians understand the enemy operates in the realm of the spirit and a demon oppressing someone is a spiritual condition. These situations need to be handled appropriately.
Demons manifest because of fear. They desire to occupy human bodies so they don’t want the person they’re oppressing (or possessing) to be delivered. Demons hate exposure and they may launch an attack if they perceive they are about to be bound and cast out.
When dealing with a demonic spirit our response may require an open rebuke, but usually, the best course is to take authority over it in a quiet voice without drawing attention. It is never God’s will we embarrass people. We must be wise as serpents and gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16), especially when we encounter a person who may be under the influence of a demon.
On a side note: binding and loosing spirits in deliverance ministry must be done with the agreement of the person who is oppressed; otherwise, the spirit has the right to remain, oppress or occupy the person’s soul. People must agree to deliverance from demons before they can receive it.
We must exercise wisdom in our dealings with people. Unless we’re involved in a deliverance, it’s not our place to do any more for a person we randomly meet or hardly know—especially if they are not saved or they do not want deliverance. While there may be a temptation to say “You’re oppressed by a demon! You need deliverance!” when personally attacked, this isn’t the mature response.
Deliverance ministry should be done in a safe and private environment; it’s not for public consumption. When you come up against mistreatment or ugliness, just recognize the spirit in operation, bind it from attacking you, and go on with your day. Again, our response in these situations should be godly; and besides, the devil is under our feet and we should act like it.
Additionally, it’s wise to know when we’re dealing with a spirit and when we’re just dealing with ugliness. Discernment differentiates between the two. Some people are just mean and their treatment of us has nothing to do with the devil. When this is the case, we’re to refrain from retaliation. It’s not worth our time.
Speaking Directly to Mistreatment
Personally speaking, I had an experience in a local store that required I speak directly to the demons manifesting in a woman who verbally attacked my spouse. Out of nowhere, a masked woman approached my husband and berated him for not covering his face. She seethed, “I wear this mask to protect you!” He replied, “If you’re wearing a mask to protect me then why would I need one?” That set her off and I immediately discerned a demonic spirit was working through the woman to persecute my husband. We had just been glorifying God before we stepped into the store to shop and as I sometimes do, I was making decrees over the area as we approached the store.
Satan hates it when we know our rights and I was definitely exercising mine as I prayed over the area. I knew a demon was speaking through her as her vocal pitch increased and she began to shriek—the demon was escalating. Turning around to observe what was happening, I rebuked the spirit. I bound it (out loud) and commanded it to cease and desist in its maneuvers as I plead the blood of Jesus over me and my husband.
Immediately, she tossed her head back and laughed uproariously. She grabbed her shopping cart and walked away muttering obscenities. After I had addressed the spirit, we finished shopping.
I have done this before as the Spirit led me through discernment; but normally, when I come under attack or mistreatment, I try to empathize and redirect the conversation.
Redirecting the path of a conversation is an excellent way to show another person grace. When someone is clearly being rude or ugly, one way to diffuse the tone of the interaction is to acknowledge that person with empathy. Let’s say it’s your turn at the cash register and the cashier says nothing to you. In fact, she rolls her eyes and sighs because your very presence annoys her. Your immediate reaction is to puff out your chest and give her a not so nice retort, but because you’re mature in Christ, you diffuse the situation with empathy. You say something like, “You’re probably ready for this day to be over; it’s not an easy thing to deal with the public. I know it can be very draining.”
You’ve shown empathy and possibly opened the door to communication. This is an opportunity to find out why the cashier has a crummy attitude and it’s your opportunity to pour the light of Jesus into her sphere. If she shares why she’s troubled, Holy Spirit may prompt you to say a brief prayer for her. If the opportunity to pray at that moment doesn’t present itself, you can always say, “I hope your day gets better – I’ll pray for you.” and leave.
If you do feel led to respond to someone’s ugliness, speaking to a person’s destiny is a great way to clear the air. Speaking into destiny means we’re calling those things that are not as though they were; we’re verbally decreeing God’s destiny over them and this opens the door for God to shift their perception.
Using myself as an example, I have boldly retorted with the word of God after being poorly treated. I use what I know about the kingdom to stir interest in God’s love for them – this approach towards people can be used in almost any situation (whether one is under attack or not). People need Truth and it’s our job to deliver Truth when the opportunity arises. Speaking life to a person’s soul will stir something inside them that can make room for God to invade their sphere.
Pierce Their Soul with Truth
I speak God’s Truth to a person knowing my words are piercing their soul. In the middle of being verbally accosted or rudely brushed aside, I literally say, “This is not your destiny.” “What?” is usually the reply before going to the heart of the matter; I’ll say, “This isn’t who you are, this isn’t your destiny and it isn’t God’s best for you. God wants you to be happy so you can fulfill your purpose. Your purpose is greater than whatever you’re feeling right now and God wants you to know He loves you.”
Holy Spirit may have you say something different, but essentially, this approach softens the tone in the atmosphere and it disarms whatever ugliness is operating through another person. We also get the chance to show the love of Jesus in a way that is relatable and draws a person to Him.
Everyone wants to be loved and acknowledged by God. Another person’s disgruntled behavior could be the door that opens them to the Truth: God is love and He loves them—so much He sent YOU to tell them.
Taking Mistreatment on the Chin
When we don’t encounter a chance to impart the love and grace of God like the examples above, it’s best to just take mistreatment on the chin and move along. We’re on kingdom business and the pettiness of other people is a distraction best left alone. Why get caught up in a petty retort after meeting with another person’s crummy attitude? Only self-entitled people demand respect when wronged and who wants the respect of the spiritually dead anyway? Let the dead bury their dead and move on with kingdom business. Ignoring an insult or deflecting mistreatment is often the best way to respond to anyone being rude or ugly. Besides, any other response only proves we expect others to exalt us by treating us in a certain way.
Some people are so bound by sin they don’t even realize they’re being crass or rude. Speaking a kind word into the atmosphere should disarm the situation; but if it doesn’t, our righteous response is always acknowledged by God. God will absolutely reward us when we turn the other cheek. Nothing escapes His notice. When He sees we have been wronged or we’re being mistreated He rewards us for handling those situations with dignity and grace.
Certain Situations Require Grace
It is by grace we are saved and by grace we cover people in certain situations. Because we love God and He loves people, we make exceptions for ugly behavior. This doesn’t mean that we allow people to run roughshod over us or disrespect the office we hold. Employers must have decorum in business; rude and ugly employees will drive away customers. The same can be said for doctor’s offices, college campuses, and all other businesses we work in or frequent. Common courtesy towards one another keeps the peace and lends itself to a pleasant experience. There will be times when giving someone a little grace is necessary and we should be willing to do so.
Covering mean people in grace when they should be clobbered by a Billy Club is a sign of spiritual growth. It also reveals our humility in God. Humble people are not demanding; they don’t pitch a fit when they’ve encountered offense or they’re being mistreated or ignored. They know offenses will come and they choose to reign over offense instead of being moved by it.
When we know who we are in Jesus, we know we’re above the negative actions of others so there’s no need to engage. Frankly speaking, kings aren’t preoccupied with cleaning up another person’s slop; they are focused on ideas and strategies. Mature people concentrate on what brings them victory in life, and in the kingdom of God, there’s no victory without humility.
The Prescription for Mistreatment
Humility is the prescription for mistreatment. Jesus acquired victory over mistreatment with humility. Jesus was humble and He made Himself of no reputation.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11, KJV).
When He was mocked and verbally scourged by people He didn’t walk around villages touting His own greatness or the superb executions of His many miracles. The scripture says we’re to let others praise us and that’s the end of it (Proverbs 27:2).
The Form of a Servant
Jesus allowed others to insult Him when He had the power to crush them. He took the form of a servant thinking more highly of others and God honored Him for His humility. Jesus didn’t demand people respect Him; on the contrary, He always acknowledged the greatness of His Father. Jesus said He was about the Father’s business and what pleased His Father. He wasn’t sideswiped by petty divisions and random insults. He knew His messaging would be attacked by many but He placed His attention on those who desired to know God personally and understand the faith. His focus is still on loving God and loving people. He died for everyone, even those that hate Him.
The Bible says He who forgives much, loves much. This can also be applied to forgiving mistreatment. Sometimes people woefully hurt us but when our aim is love we can overlook the faults of others and avoid an ungodly retort. Through love we recognize some people are bound by sin and led by emotions they cannot control. Some people are just miserable and their treatment of others is an outward expression of turmoil imbedded within their own soul.
Regardless of why we may be mistreated or rudely dismissed, the Christian response is to show love in grace. It’s the Lord’s responsibility to change the heart and show people when they’re in error towards another. Unless God has given us the task to correct, it’s our responsibility to love and give people grace. This ensures we’re in obedience to God so the peace of God can rule our hearts and minds.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7, KJV).
Stay Focused on the Kingdom
Whatever the case, we’re to remain focused on the kingdom. Holy Spirit will show us how to respond in these uncomfortable situations. The key is to step back and assess what’s behind the mistreatment and do as Holy Spirit leads; otherwise, it’s best to ignore it and move on with your day. Life is short and fruitless skirmishes are a waste of valuable time when we can simply walk away and pray. Jesus also suffered mistreatment yet He stayed the course for His Father and remained focused on the kingdom – we’re to do the same.
©2021, What You Will
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