Dealing with a Scoffer

warning-2284170_1920

You’ve probably heard the saying, “you don’t want to be THAT person”, but what if you’re entangled in a life circumstance with THAT person through work or family? What is a scoffer and how do you deal with a scoffer?

The Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and based on the Book of Proverbs he must have dealt with many difficult people and situations as he uses the Hebrew word luts (phonetically loots) for scoffer more than a dozen times.

This word means: to make mouths at, i.e. to scoff or have in derision, interpreter, ambassador (a bad one), make a mock, mocker, and scorner. A scoffer is generally surrounded by similar words like the Hebrew word zed (phonetically zade) which means arrogant, presumptuous, and proud. Other words describe this person as quarreling and full of strife. Thus, a scoffer is a very difficult person who is either clearly not a Christian, or could be the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing who is not a true follower of Christ.

For instance:

Proverbs 21:24 (ESV) – “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.

Proverbs 24:9 – The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

So how do we deal with a scoffer? First, we must let the Bible inform us, we must heed the warnings and recognize the danger. For example:

Psalm 1:1-2 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Proverbs 9:7-8 – Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Proverbs 14:6 – A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.

Proverbs 22:10 – Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.

Based on God’s word, and the wisdom provided, we must be very careful with a scoffer. We shouldn’t seek their counsel and we shouldn’t counsel, rebuke, or reprove them because it will only create hatred in them toward us and bring injury to us. However, there may be a time where you must drive away a scoffer which means you shouldn’t handle it alone. You will need to get others involved who have the authority to help you, even a restraining order.

But what about loving our enemies? Aren’t we supposed to love them? Yes, but sometimes staying away, driving away, or leaving someone alone is the best way to the love them and protect you and your family in a God honoring way.

If you find yourself in a difficult situation with a scoffer (and it may take a while to identify them as such) the best advice is to inform yourself with the Word of God, heed the truth, seek wise counsel, and pray. Pray for wisdom, pray for the difficult person – that their heart will be softened to the gospel and they will see their sinful ways, repent, and turn from that path.

But more importantly, pray and ask that God will reveal to you how this difficult circumstance can best change you. Why is this difficult person in my life? God, what are you teaching me through this challenging circumstance? Perhaps it’s not the scoffer God is working on, perhaps he’s refining us through a difficult person.

If you’re in the heat of battle with a scoffer and have been wounded by them, take heart, for God has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you and His mercies are new every morning. Seek Him, seek help, and as much as it depends on you – seek to live peaceably.

I’ll end with Paul’s exhortation in Romans 12:17-19 (ESV):

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Slow To Anger

fist-1148029_1920

I found it, that dreaded puddle on the floor near the freezer in the basement. The door left open by mistake with the yellow sign on the front stating “don’t forget to close the door”…and I lost it, screaming out in frustration:

“WHO LEFT OPEN THE FREEZER!?
WHO WAS IT?
EVERYTHING IS RUINED? ALL OF IT…ALL THE FOOD! EVERYTHING!
GIVE ME A BREAK! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? WHY?”

And the rant continued…until I scared the neighbors and everyone in the house. Looking back I acted so silly that it’s comical now, but it showed my heart at the time. I railed and rumbled like a mighty giant, but it was really immature and unhelpful. I couldn’t undo the mess, I couldn’t change the thawed food, and now I had to repair the damage done to my children and wife.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32 ESV). 

The Hebrew word for slow in this passage is arek, which means long or long suffering, patient, slow to anger. The Hebrew word for anger is aph, which means a nostril, nose, face, anger.  

Can you envision my explosion with nostrils flaring, angry faced screaming above?

But slow is better, so much better that the passage says it’s better than the mighty. The Hebrew word for better is towb, which means beautiful. Can anger be beautiful? Yes, if it’s slow anger.

The other meanings behind that word are: beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, fair word, be in favor. Thus, it’s a good thing to be slow to anger so much so that it’s better than a mighty warrior who takes a city. 

So, how is it possible to be slow to anger? The second half of the verse explains it, by ruling our spirit or temper. Ruling is the word mashal, which means to have dominion, reign, bear, cause to, have ruling have power. 

Matthew Henry’s commentary on v32 states:

To overcome our own passions, requires more steady management, than obtaining victory over an enemy.

So how is this possible? It’s God working in and through us producing the fruit of the Spirit who gives self-control. God knows the lack of self-control is one of our greatest foes. It’s more difficult than taking a well fortified city. God is slow to anger, and by His grace we can be slow to anger too.

So how do we apply this in our lives?

  • Self-control is slow, but anger is aggressive. Thus, we should do the reverse of aggressive anger, we should aggressively and actively pursue self-control.
  • How do we actively pursue self-control? Through God’s word, through prayer, through accountability, and by walking in faith despite our circumstances, by repenting when we lose it – like my rant above, and by being quick to seek forgiveness of others when we’ve lashed out in anger.

What about you?

  1. How has your life exemplified self-control in the midst of angry circumstances in the past?
  2. What are some ways you can be held accountable to this principle?
  3. How can you work to see this principle accepted and lived out by others?

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: