Hello again Truth-seekers :D. I don’t know about you, but there is one personality that I have heard nothing-to very little about. This personality is something else, and I have witnessed it in full force amongst professing believers. This subject is important, because many people believe we can come to the Lord as we are and not have to change a thing. Once you have witnessed this personality in action, you’ll question how anyone could possibly hold to that belief. The personality I’m talking about is the prickly personality.
In my yard are a number of rose bushes. One summer afternoon I was out there looking at them. The flowers are so beautiful you are drawn to touch them, to smell them. So I did. I reached out and, “OUCH!” I am sure you know exactly what happened. I wasn’t careful enough, and got stuck on a thorn.
I thought about how some people I know are like that rose bush. These individuals can be nice, caring, and actually have a good sense of humor. You want to get to know them. You want to enter their circle, sometimes you even want to help them by offering the valuable ideas or information you may have. You reach out and, “OUCH!” You didn’t see it coming; they cut you down before you knew what hit you! Before you knew it you are left hurt and bewildered, wondering what you did wrong; “all I said was….” Does this sound like Christ to you? I didn’t think so.
Perhaps you know some of these prickly Petes, maybe even a prickly Petunia or two.
In addition to the above characteristics one can add unthankful, selfish, self-centered, hard-hearted, grudge-holders lacking true love and compassion for others. These individuals can always dish it, but they can’t take it; therefore, it is fruitless to return their treatment in hopes of making them see how it feels…they will just get angry and miss the point!
To watch prickly people in action or, God-forbid, be on the receiving end their virulence is extremely difficult and exhausting. It leaves one wondering whether or not they should just walk away… for good!
These waspish individuals, unbeknownst to them of course, put their families through the ringer as they receive most of the ill-treatment. I believe it’s because we’re all more comfortable around family; we let our guard down. Prickly Petes apparently don’t care that they abuse their family’s continuously offered love, patience, and willingness to overlook wrongs. Their pride causes them to remain in check with those non-family members on their jobs or amongst their tightly guarded circle of friends. Sadly, what they forget is that even family (church family included) can get tired.
Prickly Petes can and will drive people away. Their behavior causes family members to think twice about what they’d like to share; frequently with “never mind” being the winning decision. Their prickly personality drives people away from churches, injures relationships and sometimes results in Pete being left completely alone.
We could spend hours breaking down the characteristics and ills of the prickly personality. However, let’s cut to the chase. Is there any such thing as a prickly Christian?
I believe that we all have, or have the potential for, our prickly moments. Prickly Petes, however, are always prickly; even when all seems well their prickles rest just under the surface. In a moment of calm, when you can talk to them about it, they will sometimes make excuses or blow it off as being “just how I am.” But The Word of God does not excuse this behavior.
We live in a time where many professing believers have embraced the “come as you are” part of the faith. They fail or refuse to understand that you cannot just come. There has to be a change, and we have to ALLOW that change to take place. We have to allow the Lord to bring about transformation through His Word and our obedience. Obedience meaning we actually DO what the Word says!
If you will notice the prickly characteristics something should stand out (to Bible readers anyway). Every one of those characteristics is in direct opposition to the ways of Christ; to the instructions believers are given on how to behave. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look.
I could fill this post with myriad passages regarding the sin and foolishness of prickly behavior. We can see that one may come to Christ as they are, but they certainly are not to stay as they are! Also, it is up to each individual to walk in this new life. We have to want to take off the trappings of our old nature and put on the ways of Christ. We cannot willingly wallow in our old ways, prickly or otherwise; we have to put it away from us. God is not going to take from us what He has told us to put down. Are we willing to conform to Christ or continue to walk in disobedience (Romans 12:1-2)?
I am a firm believer that not every Prickly Pete desires to be so. I have spoken with people who have prickly personalities; there are even a few Prickly Petes in my family. They are often embarrassed after they have calmed down from one of their chomping sprees. I have heard their desire to be a nice person; their wish for a sweet disposition etc. In their conversation is revealed a problem however, and one that keeps them where they are; its pride.
Many times pricklies just cannot bring themselves to truly repent; they will not admit their wrong to those they have damaged. Every once in a while you may get a “sorry”; however, you will seldom, if ever, receive heartfelt repentance with an, “I was wrong for….” Because of pride they can’t allow themselves to change. They say they don’t want to be the way they are, but they remain unyielding and want everything on their terms. Pricklies want to be lord, but Christ will not share the throne of any heart. So they make tiny, self-powered and unlasting, steps toward change. They refuse to fully turn to God with their problem and, therefore, remain on the hamster’s wheel. So how does one deal with these individuals? How can we help them?
When I was a kid my dad would say throw sugar at those who throw rocks at you. Eventually you’ll end up with all their rocks, and they will only have sugar to throw back. Moral of the Story? Never return evil for evil. Sometimes, though, it seems that Prickly Petes overlook the sugar in favor of another load of even bigger rocks!
In dealing with these individuals you will sometimes feel like throwing in the towel. I urge you not to do this. You see, Prickly Petes need us, and we must help them by doing what Christ would have us do.
Helping Prickly Pete is much different from helping someone with an easier personality. Petes need help, and don’t mind coming to you when they want it; however, they have trouble accepting “unrequested” help, care, and concern from others. I can’t tell you how many times I have been embarrassed or had venom spit at me for trying to help or for showing genuine concern. Dealing with these individuals is a lot like walking through a mine field. You have to tread carefully and you must have direction.
In order to help these individuals we need to be prepared. The 1st thing you need to remember is to seek approval from God, not from Pete; you most likely will not get it…or if you do get it, it’ll more than likely be snatched back at any moment. The 2nd thing we need to do is make sure we remain in relationship with God. We have to keep our hearts and minds right to avoid getting sucked into Pete’s viperous pit. When you aren’t where you should be spiritually it’s all too easy to act out of your flesh when pricklies are in high dudgeon. In addition to this remember these tips.
Maybe you’ve been called prickly. Maybe, if you’ve read this far, you realize you fall into this category. There is hope!
Remember, we all have our share of issues, flaws, pain and problems. Neither do we handle everything right or the same. Contrary to what prickly Pete feels, we all need the benefit of the doubt from time to time.
Pricklies are in great need our love and compassion. Although many of them put up walls and hide behind bad behavior, there is usually deep pain there that feeds their venom and discontent. This is why they need lots of prayer and understanding….as difficult as that may sometimes be. View these hurting, prickly souls through the eyes of Christ. Remember, if it were not for the grace of God we to could be Prickly Petes.
When a fool is annoyed, he quickly lets it be known.
Smart people will ignore an insult. (Pro 12:16 GNB)
Until next time!
*Have you ever had to deal with Prickly Pete?
*Have you overcome prickliness in your own life? If so, how?