Know When to Fold ‘em

November 19, 2020

Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way. Luke 4:29-30

Kenny Roger’s legendary song, The Gambler, gives these words of advice for winning at cards:  

    “You've got to know when to hold 'em, 

    Know when to fold 'em.

    Know when to walk away

    And know when to run.”

It’s also pretty good advice for people who are trying to manage relationships with difficult people. Luke 4 tells about one of the many instances Jesus had with difficult people. On this day He was at the synagogue in Nazareth, serving God and ministering to people. He read from the book of Isaiah and concluded by giving them great news. He tells them that the Scripture which prophesies “the One who would come” was fulfilled right then in their hearing. In other words, He told them that He Himself was the One of whom the prophet spoke.  

Immediately some of the Jewish leaders said this was blasphemy and became more than difficult. They tried to set a trap for him. Luke 4:30 tells us that Jesus was wise and careful, and He slipped away from them. This was a time to just walk away. 

There would be other times when Jesus would stay and contend with those who attacked Him. But sometimes it was just not right or wise. Jesus stayed in touch with His Father and used discretion and good sense.  

Jesus gave similar advice to the disciples whom He sent out in pairs of two. Matthew 14 records Him telling them when they ran into someone so difficult that the person flatly rejected their words and would not receive them, to quietly leave: “Kick the dust off your feet” (symbolically accepting the rejection) and move on. Sometimes when a difficult person wants to “make an issue” of something, the best thing you can do is walk away, let things cool off, and talk to God. Maybe you will be able to resolve the matter at another time. Or maybe God will lead you to other people and you can pray for someone else to work with your difficult person.

  • Knowing when to engage and when to walk away is extremely important. James tells us in James 1:5 that whenever we need wisdom, we can ask God and He will give it to us freely. He’ll help you with knowing when to stay and when to go.