How to Respond to People

How should we respond to people? What should we say? Should we say anything? Consider how Jesus responded.

• Jesus often cited the Scriptures when someone asked Him a question or criticized Him (Matt. 12:1-7; 15:1-9; 19:3-5; 22:23-40).

• Sometimes He answered a question with a question (Matt. 21:24-25; Luke 10:26).

• At times He refused to do what people wanted Him to do. He did not take sides in every dispute (Luke 12:13-15).

• He sometimes turned criticism back onto the critics. When the Jews condemned Him, He applied their reasoning to them (John 7:21-24).

• Jesus often lifted a discussion to a higher plain. When some talked to Him about Pilate killing a group of Galileans, Jesus talked to them about the need for personal repentance (Luke 13:1-5).

• Sometimes Jesus ignored people for a while and then answered their question (John 8:6-7).

• When Pilate asked Jesus questions He would not answer (Matt. 27:14). Sometimes silence is the best way to answer people.

• The Lord gently corrected some. He told the Samaritan woman she was wrong about worship (John 4:22), but He did not rebuke her like He corrected others.

• Jesus sharply rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees, calling them fools, blind, and hypocrites (Matt. 23). Should we be gentle or severe with others? That depends on the person we are dealing with (Jude 22-23).

• Sometimes Jesus answered with an object lesson. When the disciples wanted to know who was the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus sat a little child in the midst of them and taught them (Matt. 18:1-4).

• At times Jesus responded by doing and then by saying. He served the apostles before he taught them in John 13:1-17.

• Most often the Lord told a story called a parable in response to something that was said (Luke 15 and many others).

• A few times Jesus used godly sarcasm (Matt 23:24). He ridiculed the rebellious and hardened Jewish leaders.

These are some of the ways Jesus responded. There are certainly others. I would urge you to keep your eyes open for this as you read the New Testament. Don’t try to force a conclusion, but do try to learn as much wisdom as you can from the Master about dealing with people.

These approaches show that Jesus handled different questions and different people in different ways. How He responded depended on the people and the circumstances involved. This should keep us from thinking there is only one way to deal with people regardless of who they are or what the situation is. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer.

Kerry Duke

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