Church Education Resource Ministries



Ministering to Abusive People


Difficult and abusive people come both as males and females. Abusive people can irritate people and most do not enjoy interacting or associating with them. I certainly do not enjoy interacting with abusive people and I have had a fair share of them in my past. Common character traits of abusive people are below.


Character Traits of Abusive People


1.     Jealousy

2.     Hypersensitivity

3.     Controlling Behavior

4.     Isolating Behavior

5.     Frequent Mood Changes

6.     Blaming Others

7.     Verbal Abuse


Abusive people are all too often difficult to get along with and difficult to deal with. Most people would rather not deal biblically with abusive people, but instead ignore them. Ministering to abusive people takes much courage, and is a risk as many people are fearful of rejection and hurt. All too often is it easy to retreat into a comfort zone, and far more difficult to show love towards those that need it. There are a number of biblical passages that I believe are relevant to this article that I will be citing. All scripture citations unless otherwise indicated are from the New International Version (NIV) and the English Standard Version (ESV).


Personal Illustrations


Loving our enemies and loving abusive people are the commands of the Lord. It’s not enough to claim to love someone, as love needs to be with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18). Opportunities that the Lord presents to minister to those who abuse us should be taken. “If you enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head”(Rom 12:20). I’ve got a couple of illustrations that may bring Rom 12:20 to light in an applicable fashion.


Illustration #1


Once when I was renting a house in Shasta Lake City, CA I had a housemate named Robert. Robert came from a charismatic church background and was attendee of hyper charismatic church in the area where the people spoke in tongues, danced during the worship service, claimed to do miracles, and performed signs and wonders etc.. We often had difficulty communicating and finding common ground. Robert not only was difficult to get along with but was a nasty person to live with, and had issues. In the home would Robert sometimes get verbally abusive, and once I remember tape recording him, and I was considering sending the cassette, to his pastor, but I did not as I thought that the pastor listening to the tape/CD would have been bad for Robert & myself. I did not want the man to commit suicide or take his anger out on me, so I thought it best to ignore him and help him when the Lord opened a door.


I remember once Robert asked me to drive him to a gas station for a job interview and I agreed in my effort to help Robert. The job interview lasted a while and Robert did not get the job. Robert wanted the employer to think that he was fully capable to getting back and forth to work without relying on someone else, but this was a lie as Robert constantly needed rides from people to get around. The employer was able to figure Robert’s lie out, as he saw my car in the parking lot and observed that I gave Robert a ride to the interview. When we got into my car, and took the I-5 back home, Robert went crazy, grabbed my steering wheel, and demanded that I stop and let him walk home. I drove to the side of the road and Robert walked home. I thought about contacting Robert’s pastor but I did not. I strived to help someone that did not deserve help which I believe was an illustration of Romans 12:20.


Illustration #2


On another occasion, some time later while attending school in another part of the country I made a female named Sara and we had issues that could not be resolved. It was a tragic situation that only the Holy Spirit can resolve. But unfortunately Sara has chosen to remain bitter, and without love. Sara is my sister in Christ and if she ever gave me the opportunity to help her in some way as Romans 12:20 commands this would be in the best interest to the Lord. We need to love those that hurt us and those that abuse us. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). God loved me, and so returning love to Robert and Sara would be what Jesus would do. God’s people need to be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Col 3:12).


If you enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head


--Rom 12:20


Some verses on brotherly love


John 13:34-35

Romans 12:9-10

1 Thes 4:9

1 John 2:10

1 Pet 1:22

1 John 4:7-8

1 John 3:18

1 John 4:11

Col 3:12-13


Ultimately the Lord puts it very simply in his message on the sermon on the mount as he says; “love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you” (NASB). We need to love and minister to people that abuse us and use us. Most people think the exact opposite of this, and want nothing to do with people that abuse them, but the Lord taught differently. It is up to us to obey his word and do what it says. People that love their enemies and love those that abuse and use them are a needle in a haystack but they usually are remembered.

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