How to Handle Mean Spirited People

“He did not retaliate when he was insulted,

nor threaten revenge when he suffered.

He left his case in the hands of God,

who always judges fairly.” I Peter 2:23

It happened again. There was an opportunity in my life to show immediate grace and I let my anger completely take over me. For a moment, I was shaking mad and everyone around me knew it by my body language. What happened might have not even been intentional but the only thing I thought in that moment was that is was ugly and mean spirited and meant so much more than just the act itself.

I gathered myself fairly quickly and began to will back rational thoughts. As most things these days, I reflected on it later and tried to look at it in a way that I could learn something. While this incident may not have been mean spirited (I really don’t know for sure), it gave me an opportunity to think about how I should handle it when people are ugly to me.

It happens to all of us. Someone says something that hurts us deeply, sometimes completely false in its content. Someone talks about us negatively behind our back and we find out about it, at least some rendition of it. Someone does something towards us that is spiteful and mean.

Truth is, there are mean and ugly people in this world. Truth is, WE can be mean and ugly sometimes. We are ALL human and tend to follow our sin nature. The difference between some people is the conviction felt when we do mess up and the desire to be better people. There are people in this world that do not care that they are mean spirited and chances are, will not see the error in their ways unless they allow God to intervene.

So how do we deal with these people? Both the intentionally ugly people as well as the people who are occasionally and remorsefully ugly (even if we may not know it)?

Jesus offered us a perfect testimony when He lived on this earth as a man. “He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threatened revenge when he suffered.”

He gives us so many verses in the Bible that address this issue. He knows how hard this is for us and He reminds us often of His ways regarding ugly and mean spirited people.

Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

Matthew 5:43-48 says “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

“It’s not about who they are or what they’ve done. It’s about who YOU are.” A local Pastor where I live stated this in a sermon. I immediately wrote it down and have read it often since then.

The way we handle ugly people is not an indicator of how ugly they are, it’s an indicator of what is in our own hearts.

If we spew out venom in response to venom, or act out ugliness in response to ugliness, we are not “standing up for ourselves,” a phrase so many people use to make excuses for their behavior and justify it. What we are really doing is the exact opposite of what Christ lived out as a witness of how we should treat each other. Remember, He did not retaliate nor take revenge!

Think about this: Is us “standing up for yourself” bringing anyone closer to Christ? Isn’t it our mission in life to bring praise and honor to Him? Wouldn’t us handling an ugly situation with grace and peacefulness be the better alternative and a better way to show Christ to others?

I have been given so many opportunities to practice these commandments and have succeeded some and have failed some. I will never be perfect but I pray that I keep getting better. My earnest desire is to shine the light of Jesus through the difficulties of life and my reaction to mean spirited people. Will you join me?

~Keeping it Real

2 thoughts on “How to Handle Mean Spirited People

  1. Paula says:

    In a devotion I read on this very subject we can consider people like this as “sandpaper people”. We can choose to allow them to “rub us the wrong way” or we can allow them to help smooth out some of the rough edges in our own lives. My desire is to do the latter but I’m afraid I fail at this as well too many times. I know the end results of a freshly sanded piece of wood and the beautiful grain that can be revealed. So that too is my desire…that the grain of Christ is what others see in me. Boy do l have some work to do!

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