Continued from here.
What do you do when someone who believes he or she is spiritually immature behaves badly toward you? The first step is always prayer – pray for God’s wisdom and discernment for how best to respond to the person. If possible, I recommend delaying giving a response until you have had the opportunity to go before the Lord in prayer. For example, if a spiritually immature Christian leaves you a rude voice mail or sends you a rude email, do not respond until after you have sought God’s leadership. If it happens face-to-face, try hearing the person out but then tell the person you’d like to go to God in prayer first and then will respond later.
The next step is to look to the Bible for how best to respond. Possible responses run the gamut from ignoring the rudeness to having an uncomfortable conversation in which boundaries are set or enforced. This is why we need to pray for God’s wisdom and discernment to respond appropriately. Remember that however you respond is modeling behavior – whether positive or negative – to someone who is less spiritually mature. Your response should be as gentle as possible while still firm enough to enforce appropriate boundaries.
One factor to consider is how many people stand to be harmed by the spiritually immature behavior. If someone is only being rude to you, an option might be to extend grace by responding to the insult kindly and then praying for the person. This has worked effectively for me, particularly with interpersonal relationships. I have gone to the Father in prayer, asking Him to stand up for me, and He has used my gentle response to nudge the person into conviction and repentance. Sometimes people (particularly family) are looking for an argument. When we refuse to push back, that gives God the space to work on that person’s heart.
However, if someone’s behavior is disruptive enough to hurt others, appropriate boundaries may need to be enforced to prevent that person from leading others in the wrong direction. For example, let’s say someone is gossiping about a situation to try to rally other people to bring about disharmony. That’s a situation that needs to be addressed quickly before disunity happens … but even then, praying to God before acting is critical.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace praying. Courtesy Bitmoji.]