No More Drama!

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Subject: No More Drama
Today, we’re starting a new series called No More Drama.
This series on relational health – No More Drama – we’re going to look at the drama-filled people in your life that just irritate you, and how to deal with those people.
When I think of this topic, it reminds me of a preacher who went over to visit an elderly woman in the church. She had lost her husband a number of years ago. The woman he visited was in her eighties. He went over to just pay her a visit. As they sat there in her living room, it was right around lunch time and he was kind of hungry. She had a big bowl of peanuts. As they talked he ate one. And of course you can’t eat just one and he started eating more and more. When they finally finished he realized he’d eaten the entire bowl of peanuts. He felt a little embarrassed by it and he said to this elderly woman... He said, “I’m really sorry! I’ve eaten all your peanuts.” She said, “Don’t worry, Preacher. I can’t chew on them after I’ve sucked the chocolate off.” He said, “I felt a little foolish!”
What’s the point?
We all do foolish things from time to time. Usually unintentionally; sometimes intentionally. You’d have a lot fewer problems if you were less foolish and more wise.
Wisdom doesn’t get rid of your problems, but wisdom definitely minimizes your problems. If you know how to respond wisely to situations, your problems will be dramatically reduced in your life. It’s all about wisdom, knowing how to handle things and not be foolish.
Nowhere are we more foolish than in our relationships. We foolishly treat people in ways that are really counter productive. In fact, a lot of times we provoke people to do the very behavior we don’t want. We foolishly think, “This is how I’m going to get what I need out of this relationship – more fulfillment, more intimacy, more joy, more satisfaction, more stability. I need my relationships to be fulfilling and not draining.”
But actually the things you do are often counter productive. They are foolish. They are not wise. Because if you do what you naturally feel like doing in a relationship it’s almost always the wrong thing. As I said, wisdom doesn’t eliminate problems but it definitely does reduce them.
The classic passage on wisdom in our relationships is in the book of James, chapter 3, verses 13-18.
James 3:13–18 (NLT)
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
In verse 17, James gives us a checklist. These are the foundations of healthy relationships.
In the future series in the weeks ahead, we’re going to look at the drama people in your life, how to diffuse, deflect, and defend yourself against them. But in any relationship half of the problem is you. It’s how you respond. When you respond incorrectly to the drama people in your life you actually make it worse. So let’s get right into it.
Foundations of healthy relationships...

First the Bible says that wisdom, if I want to be wise…

1. Wisdom that comes from heaven is pure.

It means uncorrupted, clean, unpolluted, clear, untainted. What’s he talking about? The word we use today is the word “integrity.” He’s talking about integrity. He’s saying that the foundation of all good relationships is integrity.
If a guy’s lying to his wife all the time, he may have an arrangement but he doesn’t have a relationship. He may have a commitment but he doesn’t have a relationship. Because relationships are built on truth, because truth is the foundation of trust. Honesty is the bedrock of all relationships. You’ve got to be honest. You’ve got to shoot straight with people. If you’re lying to the people in your life you don’t have a relationship.
If I want to be wise in my relationships I won’t compromise my integrity.
I won’t compromise my integrity. I won’t violate my conscience. I won’t compromise my convictions. I won’t live a double life. I won’t lie to you. I’ll tell you the truth. Because trust is built on truth. No truth, no trust. No trust, no relationship.
Proverbs 2:7 NLT
7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

2. Wisdom is peace loving.

That’s the second thing he says. In other words, wise people are peacemakers not troublemakers. Wise people don’t carry a chip on their shoulder. Wise people are not always looking for a fight.
Do you love a good fight? Then you’re not wise. The Bible says wisdom is peace loving. Fools love to fight. Just go on the internet – it’s full of them. Just look up any blog. Foolish people love to fight. They love to argue. They love to mix it up with people. Some people get into politics just because they love a good fight. That’s not smart. It’s dumb. It’s foolish. The Bible says wisdom is peace loving. It’s not always trying to provoke anger.
If I want to be wise in my relationships, I won’t antagonize your anger!
I won’t antagonize your anger. In other words, I don’t push your hot buttons intentionally. I don’t provoke your rage. I don’t egg you on.
The fact is if you’ve been around anybody for any length of time, you pretty soon figure out what irritates them. And you file that back in the back of your mind as a tool to use when we get in an argument! It’s a weapon of mass destruction. You know what pushes their buttons. And you know what ticks them off. When you get in an argument and they say something that hurts you, offends you, or slights you in any way, then you pull out the big gun. You use the weapon of mass destruction. You push their hot button. And you go, works every time!
Proverbs 20:3 NLT
3 Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.
During this series we’re going to have some fun. We’re going to laugh at ourselves because we all use tools, tricks of the trade, skills in relationships that are actually counter productive. They’re hurtful, they’re harmful, and they don’t get you what you want out of relationships. In fact they get you the exact opposite behavior. But when we lack wisdom we use them anyway.
There are lots of these. We’re going to look at them in the weeks ahead. Let me just mention three of them today. If you’re wise you’re never going to do these things any more with people in relationships.
You’re going to antagonize somebody’s anger when you start comparing them to anybody else. It always makes them mad. “Why can’t you be like… so and so?” or “You’re always like… so and so” or “You’re just like your mother!” That’s very helpful! You can guess the predictable response to that one. “You’re just like your mother,” or “You’re just like your dad!”
2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT
12 Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!
Never compare your wife, your husband, your kids, your yard, your boss, or anybody else, because everybody’s unique. Comparing antagonizes anger.
Don’t do it. When you start laying on the guilt in a relationship, you start trying to make people feel guilty for what they’ve done, you start trying to make them feel ashamed – “You should be ashamed!” – all you’re going to do is get the exact opposite of what you expect.
Don’t try to be somebody else’s conscience. “You should, you must, you ought, you need to, you always, you never…”
Have you ever watched a spouse correct every detail of a story while the other person’s telling it? It’s irritating. Do I have a witness? It’s irritating. If you’re wise you don’t sweat the small stuff. You just don’t sweat it. You don’t sweat the small stuff. You don’t get hooked into it.
William James the famous psychologist said, “Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.” And there’s some stuff you just need to overlook and not try to make a big deal of it. Not contradicting.
Proverbs 14:29 NLT
29 People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.

3. Wisdom is gentle all the time.

It is courteous, the Bible says in the Living Bible. The niv translates it “considerate.” If I’m wise I’m always going to be considerate.
Philippians 4:5 NLT
5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
You mean I have to be considerate when people are inconsiderate to me? Yes. I have to be considerate to clerks who are jerks? Yes. When people are rude to me, I don’t get to be rude back? No. Not if I’m smart. If I’m foolish I can get back. But if I want to be wise, if I want to have wisdom I am always, always, always considerate. I’m not allowed to call you names, I’m not allowed to be rude to you. I’m not allowed to slur you back. I’m not allowed to get even because that puts me on the same level as you. I am always to be considerate.
This is so important. Wise people are considerate even when people are blasting away at them. Why? Because being considerate is the antidote to the two most common mistakes, foolish mistakes that you make in relationships. The two most common mistakes that you make in relationships.
The first mistake you make is we react to what people say and ignore how people feel.
We pay too much attention to their words and not enough attention to their emotions. The words don’t really matter. People say stuff when they’re angry they don’t even mean. People don’t always say what they mean, but they always feel what they feel.
The other mistake we do is we invalidate any feelings that we don’t feel ourselves.
I don’t feel it so you shouldn’t. If I don’t feel what you feel then your feeling is dumb, it’s irrational, it’s illogical, it makes no sense and you shouldn’t feel it. We just dismiss it. Because we don’t feel it then you shouldn’t feel it. That’s foolish. That is not wise.
Have you ever played this game? “It’s cold in here.” No, it’s not. “Yes, it’s cold in here.” No, it’s not. “I’m cold.” No, you’re not. It’s quite warm. In fact, I’m burning up in here. “No, you’re not.”
Whoever invented the duel control electric blanket should be given the Nobel Peace Prize! It’s saved millions of marriages. Now if they could just figure out how to do the air conditioning in the car!
When we invalidate other people’s feelings because we don’t feel it, we minimize that person. Guys, if your girlfriend or your wife says to you, “I feel ugly!” You don’t dismiss it… “You’re not ugly!” That doesn’t help at all. What you need to do is say, “Why would you feel that? What would make you say that?” Because you need to look beyond the words and say, why would she say she’s ugly when she’s obviously not ugly? But for you to just say, you’re not ugly, that’s not helpful. When she says I feel ugly, you need to go, why would you say that? What’s making you feel like that today? Now you’re getting to the real issue.
Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They’re just there. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They’re just there. They’re not facts. So you don’t need to argue.
If I want to be wise, I won’t minimize your feelings.

3. Wisdom is willing to yield to others.

It’s open to reason. It allows discussion. This word eupeithes, it’s the only time in the whole Bible this word is used. It’s a great word for wisdom in relationships. It means you’re not stubborn. You’re not defensive.
How do you know that? How do you know if you have this kind of quality in your life?
One of the main ways you know is how you listen. That’s one of the main ways you see this willingness to yield to others. The wiser you are, the better a listener you will be. And the more foolish you are, the less you will listen to others.
I’ve got to admit. I do a very unwise thing all the time in relationships. It’s totally unwise. I tend to finish people’s sentences for them. Anybody else do this? They’re saying something and I want to move the conversation along. So I’ll say the end of the sentence. That’s very unwise because I’m not letting them say what they want to say. And I may not hear really what I need to hear in that. So if you’re wise you realize it’s foolish to cut people off. It’s foolish to not let people have their say. It’s foolish to jump to conclusions.
So instead of that you want to be open to reason. You want to be willing to listen. You want to be willing to learn.
The tough thing about listening to other people and hearing their suggestions is you’ve got to put yourself out there. And it can hurt sometimes. But if you’re going to be wise…

If I want to be wise, I won’t criticize your suggestions.

A wise person can learn from anybody. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. So people in your life they’re going to be right.
Let me tell you something that God does in my life and he’s going to do in your life to totally humble you when it comes to listening to other people’s suggestions. There are going to be people in your life, the most irritating people in your life, sometimes they’re going to have a good suggestion.
Proverbs 18:15 NLT
15 Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.
What if people have a stupid idea? You do the same thing with their stupid idea that you do with your stupid ideas. If it’s a good idea you listen to it and you learn. If it’s a stupid idea then you ignore it and you forget it. Stop wasting your life trying to prove a stupid idea right or wrong. Just move on to the next good idea. If I’m wise I’m open to suggestions. I won’t criticize your suggestions.
Wise people give people what they need, not what they deserve. That’s mercy and that’s wisdom.
Circle the word “mercy.” If I’m going to be wise, I’m going to maximize mercy. I’m going to major on mercy in my relationships. Full of mercy and good deeds. In other words it’s wise to show grace to people when they mess up, when they blow it, when they sin, when they fumble, when they flub up, when they have faults, when they fail. It’s wise to show mercy. It’s wise to cut people slack when they mess up.
God doesn’t give me what I deserve. He gives me what I need. If I got what I deserved I wouldn’t be standing here. If you got what you deserved you wouldn’t be alive. God doesn’t give you what you deserve. He gives you what you need. That’s mercy. And the Bible says that’s wise.

5. If I want to be wise, I won’t emphasize your mistakes.

Because I am merciful. Wise people don’t rub it in. Wise people rub it out. Wise people are merciful.
So let me ask you, how high do you rate on mercy? Do you jump on every fault or blunder – Great move klutzo! You’re always picking at people, always pointing out their errors their mistakes. Do you continually bring up the past? And every little sin that your husband or your wife or your girlfriend or whoever has done. You file it back so you can pull it out when you need to get a little leverage.
I heard about a high school kid recently who came home from school with a bad report card. And his dad blew a gasket! The next day he went back to school and his friend at school said, what did your dad say? He said, my dad got historical! Don’t you mean hysterical? No, historical. He told me everything I’d ever done wrong.
Do you do that? Do you let it all pile up, all dam up, and when somebody hits you at the wrong spot you let it all out? That is foolish, because wisdom is full of mercy. It’s full of good deeds.
Proverbs 17:9 NLT
9 Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.
Think of the person who’s closest to you in your life. Even though you love them there are some things they do that just flat out bug you. I mean it really bugs you. Do you know those things that really get you going? Let it go. It’s foolish to hold on to it. Let it go. There are so many things to love about them. Let it go. You’re not God!
Wisdom is full of mercy.
Wisdom is impartial and always sincere.
This is interesting. These two words in the Greek, the original Greek in the Bible, are the words adiakritos and anypokritos. They are very similar words. Impartial and sincere.
These words are the exact opposite. Impartial and sincere. It means you’re genuine. You’re without hypocrisy. You’re the real deal. The word we’d use today is the word “authentic.”

6. If I want to be wise in my relationships, I won’t disguise my intentions.

I won’t wear a mask. I won’t fake it. I won’t pretend. I won’t try to be somebody that I’m not. I won’t lie to you. I won’t cheat you. I won’t trick you. I won’t fake you out. I won’t take advantage of you. I won’t deliberately mislead you.
The point is this: Fools are fakes. Wise people are authentic. They’re the real deal. They aren’t phonies. They’re genuine. They’re authentic. Warts and all. What you see is what you get.
There are two places today where people fake it more than anywhere else, where people are phony. They don’t show their true selves. Two places: Online and on dates. They don’t show their true selves. They’re always trying to make themselves look better than they really are online and on dates.
Proverbs 10:18 NLT
18 Hiding hatred makes you a liar; slandering others makes you a fool.
Psalm 12:2 NLT
2 Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
Dating actually sets up relationships to be phony. Because dating in itself is an artificial relationship. You look your best. You act your best. You talk your best. You dress your best. You smell your best on a date! It’s not the real you – passing gas and burping. No. You’re just super cool and you’re not really real. On dates no man would ever actually go to the opera except on a date. Ladies, you just need to realize, no man likes opera. In fact, you laugh at things on dates that aren’t even funny. It’s the stupidest thing you ever heard but you laughed at it anyway. It is a phony, fake relationship.
In fact, no place on the planet earth is more inauthentic, more phony than a singles bar. Fake, phony, inauthentic relationships. Nowhere else on the planet can a total stranger come up to you and offer to buy you something. Can I buy you a drink? You don’t know him. In Sears a guy walks up, can I buy you a toaster? Really! In Albertsons… care for a box of Captain Crunch? Some pickles? It’s so phony. It’s so fake.
If I’m honest, if I’m real, if I’m wise, I’m not going to disguise who I really am.
Let’s review. How wise are you in your relationships? Do you ever compromise on your integrity? That’s not wise. Do you antagonize other people’s anger and push their buttons intentionally just to get even? Not wise. Do you minimize feelings? You shouldn’t feel that way. Do you criticize suggestions? That’s a dumb idea. Do you emphasize mistakes and rub it in rather than out? Do you disguise your intentions?
If you don’t wise up, if you don’t learn some godly wisdom, you’re going to go through your entire life making the same relational mistakes over and over and over. And you’re not going to get what you want out of that relationship – an intimate, satisfying, soul-satisfying relationship – the kind that God intended for you to have.
How do I get the wisdom to stop making foolish mistakes in relationships? There are only two places you get wisdom. You don’t get it from college. You don’t get it from an online blog, you don’t get it from tv shows. You get wisdom from knowing God and doing what he says to do, doing his Word. Knowing God and doing his Word.
This book, the Bible, this is filled with relational wisdom for you. If you’ll stick with me for the next six weeks we’re going to help revolutionize your relationships. My goal for this series is you’ll learn what God says to do and then you’ll do it. And the emphasis is on doing it.
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