Have you noticed how a passive aggressive attitude seems to be most prevalent today? People seem ready to walk out on marriages, contracts, and vows at the drop of a hat. And what is behind their actions of leaving? Often is a desire to hurt the people or organization for not doing things in accordance with their way of thinking. It’s very much like a child who owns the ball with whom other children are playing, but when he doesn’t get his way he picks the ball up and walks off.
What would Jesus say to such action? How is this addressed in the Bible?
First, we know there are times when there will be conflict with others no matter what the organization be it in the world, in marriage, or in the church. The Bible teaches clearly that we are all sinners and even those who have been saved by the grace of God and have the power of the Spirit within, they still have an old and selfish nature that seeks to be predominant and wants to hurt all that stand in the way. Therefore, when two or more people are involved, you have multiple sin natures at war within which often moves without.
Romans 3:23 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 8:7–11 (ESV) — 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Even so, the Bible is also clear that we are to do all that we can to live at peace or get along with others, and we do that by living in submission to God’s word, thereby submitting to one another.
Romans 12:18–21 (ESV) — 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 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.” 20 To the contrary, “if your 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.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Philippians 2:1–4 (ESV) — 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
There is no room for quitting and seeking to hurt others by taking your ball and leaving or any other “passive aggressive” behavior. Again, that “passive aggressive” behavior is not Christian and will only make you an isolated miserable person that is lacking in basic relationship skills.
Let’s go back to a basic premise that is often overlooked. The most hurtful passive aggressive seems to center around relationships where a vow has been made, particularly in marriages and church relationships. It’s almost like the enemy works at tearing apart the family and the church but God has spoken on this as well.
Ecclesiastes 5:4 (ESV) — 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.
Ephesians 5:18–21 (ESV) — 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:22–28 (ESV) — 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Matthew 18:10–14 (ESV) — 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV) — 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
God has a way of dealing with difficult situations and that is why the word submission is used. We submit to one another, even when a person is wrong, we submit to their need of being rescued by apply the word of God in understanding and love. Never does the Scripture exhort us to seek another’s hurt by walking away. Passive aggression is NOT biblical, therefore does not come from God or honor God when applied. Passive aggression actions never solve anything and only create greater problems.
May God help us all to stop and think before we “take our ball and go.” May He help us live by His word and do all that we can to be at peace, promote peace, and honor Him by submitting to His word and the needs of others.