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  • Before You Choke Them, Pray-

    “…and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.” Zechariah 7:10

    A piece of furniture separated us as we met to discuss a situation. While I was prepared to plead my case, I was taken aback by the words I heard – and the tone of which they were spewed.

    Arrogant.

    Degrading.

    Snide.

    The questioning of my common sense combined with the allusion I wasn’t this individuals’ equal made my blood boil. The more they talked, the more I felt my ears heating up –as they often do when anger inwardly simmers before an eruption. I knew that if I didn’t get myself together, I could catch a case.

    Or at the very least end up embarrassed for reacting like I was on a Love & Hip Hop reunion.

    Lord, help me not to split her wig, I silently prayed.

    You may not actually reach out and touch somebody – but the thought can be tempting, right?

    Thank God the potential blow up cooled down to a lukewarm disagreement—albeit it wasn’t our last. Why? Because there are simply  people in our lives that are difficult to deal with.

    The backstabber.

    The liar.

    The petty person.

    The vindictive one.

    An individual so evil you swear Satan is housed in them.

    And unfortunately, that difficult person may be someone in our path we have to deal with — a family member, manager on the job, a ministry partner…

    The list could go on.

    But if we allow the difficult people in our lives to dictate our behavior, we have given them our power. As we lament over what they’re doing, guess what? They continue to live their life—and most of the time, they could care less about you. Yet here we are – trippin’ off someone who doesn’t mind making life hellish for others!  Keep in mind Jesus dealt with his own set of foes. Instead of popping off or throwing hands, Jesus entrusted those people to the only One who could handle them—God Himself.

    “…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” 1 Peter 2:23

    I know, I know. You may be saying, “I ain’t Jesus, though!” I get that; so does God. Be honest with how you feel but trust your enemies to  the One who knows them – and you, too. See, our sin is not being angry – but what we do with that anger.

    “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27

    God has the power to remove your enemies and those who contend with you (Isa. 49:25 ). However, if He chooses not to, then we must deal with them using divine strategies. Here’s a few:

    Realize who’s behind the battle.  No one should ever use the old adage, “The devil made me do it!” Nonetheless, the devil is in the details – and behind the scenes.

    “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

    As much as we may want to drop kick someone in the throat – harsh, I know – we ultimately cannot win a war that is spiritual using resources which are natural. When our perspective is rooted in biblical truth, we won’t react  in the flesh to contentious people around us.

    Rely on prayer for you– and those against you.  One of our greatest spiritual weapons is prayer. Prayer prepares us for what is coming, dually providing direction and strength for the present battle we’re in. Prayer isn’t solely for us; we are to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). It is our natural proclivity to want to refrain from praying for those who do us wrong; we want vindication.  Although we may witness their downfall, we can’t wish for it. Instead, we’re instructed to pray and leave vengeance to God.

    “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

    Lest they repent, they will reap whatever they  sow in due season.

    Resolve to remain unbothered  and forgive them. If we’re constantly riled up, we risk committing the sin of holding a grudge and unforgiveness. Leviticus 19:18 tells us, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Mark 11:25 is our reminder to forgive:

    “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

    We all have what I call “sandpaper people” in our lives – they’re rough and rub you the wrong way. It’s not our job to change them but instead, change how we respond.

    And with Christ’s help, we can.