Getting Along With Difficult People
“Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the LORD says?” vs. 26
Honest With The Policeman
A policeman pulls a man over for speeding and asks him to get out of the car.
After looking the man over, he says,
“Sir, I couldn’t help but notice your eyes are bloodshot. Have you been drinking?”
The man gets indignant and says,
“Officer, I couldn’t help but notice your eyes are glazed. Have you been eating doughnuts”
Honesty is the best policy, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think before we speak. Today we are going to go back and look at a two men we studied last week whose names are similar sounding; Balak and Balaam and their story is found in Numbers 23.
Read Passage – Numbers 23:13-26
13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will see only a part but not all of them. And from there, curse them for me.” 14 So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on eac altar. 15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there.” 16 The LORD met with Balaam and put a message in his mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this message.” 17 So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the princes of Moab. Balak asked him, “What did the LORD say?” 18 Then he uttered his oracle: “Arise, Balak, and listen; hear me, son of Zippor. 19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? 20 I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it. 21 “No misfortune is seen in Jacob, no misery observed in Israel. The LORD their God is with them; the shout of the King is among them. 22 God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. 23 There is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’ 24 The people rise like a lioness; they rouse themselves like a lion that does not rest till he devours his prey and drinks the blood of his victims.” 25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!” 26 Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the LORD says?”
Sweetening The Pot/The Oracles Of Balaam
Let’s review for a moment the story of Balak and Balaam. Balaam is a pagan priest and Balak is the king ofMoab, a country that sits in between whereSyria,Iran,Turkeyand – all meet in today’s world. Balak and the Moabites are in war with the Israelites as they are moving into the Promised Land. Balak calls on Balaam to come and put a curse on the Israelites hoping to give him the edge and victory against these people. At first God tells Balaam not to go, then late on approves it but God sees how Balaaam is acting and sends an angel to kill Balaam. When the donkey he is riding sees the angel and won’t move, Balaam mistreats the donkey and when his eyes are open and he can see the angel, he repents and acknowledges God and even asks God if he wants him to go back home but God tells him to keep going now that he has Balaam attention and obedience. Balaam arrives and when he is called upon to curseIsraelhe blesses them. He told Balak he could only say what God told him to say. Notice that Balak sweetens the pot. He offers Balaam more money and tries to get him again to curse Israel.
It seems that when people don’t get what they want, a natural things they do is try to “sweeten” the pot or up the ante to manipulate others.
What Balak didn’t understand is that he was dealing with God. Balaam had seen God at work when the donkey started talking and when he saw the angel of God. Balak thinks he is dealing with a man, a priest, and that it really is nothing for him to break his promise. But Balak did know that and that is why we read these words in verse 19:
“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” vs. 19
God reminded Balaam, again, who he was dealing with and what happened before. He had seen the angel, the talking donkey and here God reminds him that he could snuff his life out any time he wanted to.
BTW: DO think Balaam treated that donkey better after that, maybe gave her extra straw, put her out in the pasture a little more, ect. I mean she did save his life.
Anyway, Balaam probably even know that whole history of the Israelites and the covenant God made with Abram back in Gen. 12:1-3:
1 Now the LORD had said to Abram, “Go out from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s household, to the land that I will show you; 2 and I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, in order that you might be a blessing; 3 and I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you” Gen. 12:1-3
Men break promises, God doesn’t. So God was going ot keep his covenant with Abram and no one, not Balaam, not Balak, not some false god, nothing was going ot get God to break what he had covenanted to do.
Dealing With People God’s Way
This interaction is in the Bible for a reason and I want to look this morning at the different aspects of this interaction between these two men and what God wants to teach us from it.
- Honor God
First, we learn that in our relationships, we should always honor God. Verse 15:
“Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him (God) over there.” vs. 15
I think it is significant that Balak realizes that he must honor what God wants him to do. I think that angel scared him straight and when you realize that it is God you are dealing with, not man, you act and react much differently. He realized that he could not go against God again or he would die. He learned to have some respect for God and in this situation, to consult God before he acted. He got on board with God. Just think for a minute how different we would handle our relationships if we remembered that God was right there in the middle of them.
Ex. Praying with the ladies in the hotel lobby this week.
Rev. 4:11 says:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things…” Rev. 4:11
We tend to remember we are God’s creation but so are other people and we give God honor when we bring him into our relationships.
2. Be True To Yourself
Second, we need to be true to ourselves, in other words, hold to our convictions, especially when they are Godly ones. Remember back to last weeks passage when Balaam said in Numbers 22:38:
“Balaam replied. “But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.” Numbers 22:38
He had experienced trying to do it himself and to make it about himself. Now it was about God and he was convicted of that and he wasn’t going to make that mistake twice. He was convicted and he then held to that conviction.
One of the biggest reasons we lose our clout with people is that we are convicted by God about things and are easily swayed away from them by people. It’s called peer pressure. We say we follow God’s ways but then get easily swayed and don’t hold to our integrity and Godly conviction. People see our duplicity and how easily we can be pressured.
Ex. We says we love God and want to follow his ways and then fall into the trap of talking about others and spreading gossip, rumors, etc. This week when I was working and I started sown that path and had to catch myself and stop.
Jeremiah 17:7 says:
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.” Jer. 17:7
We can’t compromise our beliefs and convictions, especially if we are putting our confidence in ourselves. Our confidence should be in God.
3. Stick To What Is True
And third, we need to stick to what is true. Verse 26:
“Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the LORD says?” vs. 26
I mentioned that this is the second time Balak tries to sway Balaam. He actually tries 2 more times after this. And remember, before he went with Balak he told him he could only say what God tells him. That hasn’t changed. The truth doesn’t change. Honesty in our dealing with others is huge when it comes to holding our credibility with them. Here’s something to remember; there is freedom in the truth. Jesus said that. John 8:31-32
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
One reason God doesn’t change is that He holds to the truth. I will caution you, be careful not to use the truth to beat up others or to lift yourself above them, but hold to it. There is freedom in truth. Freedom in never lying, never having to cover up a lie, never having to
John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of peoplemaking their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew but whose face he did not—the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun 13months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf, he had found himself intrigued, not with
the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name: Miss HollisMaynell. With time and effort, he located her address. She lived inNew York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and invited her to correspond. The next day, he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year, the two corresponded by mail and grew to know each other. A romance soon budded. Blanchard requested a photograph,
but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like. When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting. It was to be at 7:00 P.M. in Grand Central Station in New York. “You’ll recognizeme,” she wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” At 7:00 P.M., John Blanchard was in the station looking for a girl he had never seen but whose heart he loved. Just then, a beautiful young woman wearing a green suit approached him. He moved toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As he walked up, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. “Going my way, sailor?” she murmured. Then John saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. She was well past 40, had graying hair tucked under a worn hat, and, as John described, “was more than plump.” The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. John felt split between the two: He wanted judging others to follow the pretty young girl, but he longed to meet the woman whose letters had made such a profound impact on him. He chose to stay. John gripped the worn, blue leather copy of the book that was to identify him to Hollis. He squared his shoulders, saluted and held out the book to her. As he spoke, he could not help feeling choked by the bitterness of his disappointment. “I’mLieutenant John Blanchard,” he said, “and youmust beMissMaynell. I amso glad you couldmeetme.May I take you to dinner?” The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit who just went by begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said that if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!”
Uncoomon Stories and Illustrations Jim Burns Gospel Light 2008
People are watching to see if we live what we believe and if we treat people the way God teaches us to.