First of all, the world is full of negative people. By “negative people” we mean those who have a “negative attitude about most things in life.” Because of this they tend to talk about what they see as negative in most of their conversations with people. They also have a tendency to look at one’s faults (and somehow, they never see their own faults!) and will often bring up those faults to one’s face, or, to gossip about them to others. These actions can definitely have a negative impact on a person’s life. The “natural reaction” to this would be “to want God to remove that person from your life.” Notice, I said “natural reaction,” for if we are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ we have to “ask God how we should react to this negative person.” A believer still has the “sinful nature” they were born with (see Psalm 51:5; John 3:6a with Romans 7:18) that would cause us to leave God out of the equation and seek to be rid of anyone who doesn’t please us. Yet the believer also has a “divine nature” that cannot sin (see John 3:6b with Romans 7:22 & 1st John 3:9) that would cause us to seek God’s will in the matter. Perhaps He will lead us to “distance ourselves from that person” OR He may lead us to “confront this person” with the purpose of helping to deliver them from their negativity.

If this person is a fellow-believer in Christ, the Lord may burden our hearts to go to him or her with a desire to see them “restored to the Lord” so they can once again enjoy the salvation they have in Christ. We read in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (KJV). If a believer is consistently acting negatively and causing negative actions in others, they have surely been “overtaken in a fault.” If we see this, the Lord is allowing this for a reason. He wants us to love our brother and desire to see him restored to fellowship with the Lord. We should PRAY ABOUT THIS and then GO TO THEM PRIVATELY to speak about their fault that has severed their fellowship with the Lord. Matthew 18:15 speaks about this too: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother” (NASB). How wonderful it is to see a brother restored by taking to heart what you have brought to his attention! You have truly “won your brother” by faithfully and lovingly showing him his fault. What happens if he doesn’t listen and repent? If he continues to have a negative impact on others and he is part of your church fellowship, I would encourage you to read on in verses 16-20 to see how others will need to be brought in to deal with this matter. You will see that it may come to the point where the negative person “may need to be removed from fellowship” and thus God’s discipline would “remove them from your life” until he repents of his sin.

If this person is NOT a believer in Christ, they don’t need RESTORATION; they need SALVATION! In that case, we should still PRAY ABOUT THIS and GO TO THEM PRIVATELY. But instead of bringing up their sin of negativity, we need to show them from Scripture that they were “born in sin” (Psalm 51:5) and that they “have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We don’t need to speak of “specific sins” but rather that they are “a sinner” who doesn’t measure up to God’s holy standard of righteousness. And because they are sinners, they are subject to God’s “penalty for sin” which is DEATH and JUDGMENT (see Romans 6:23 and Hebrews 9:27). Then you can show them that God has provided SALVATION “from the penalty of their sins” in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ (I often show unbelievers John 3:16 and 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 as a starting point). In this case too, if they truly “listen to you” (or should I say, “listen to God through the scriptures”), you may end up “winning a sinner to Christ.” Proverbs 11:30 speaks of this: “And he who WINS SOULS is wise.” If he does NOT listen to you and thus does not repent of his sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, you can still seek to show him the love of Christ in your life and hopefully he will, in time, be won to Christ. Yet you will want to avoid him when he is speaking negatively about you or others in order to avoid being defiled by him (see Ephesians 5:1-11, especially verses 7 and 11).  (DO)  (498.1)