Passive Aggressive Behavior: order and Beauty

If we are to imitate God, how does He sound coming from our voice to others? Do we imitate him with our clothing, our actions, our giving? What about our words to others? Would He live in our homes and be a part of our conversations? Is our home clean, in order, and dressed in beauty?

This series has been challenging. One of my wise mentors once said, “we are tested by what we teach or preach.” The Book of James says, Do not become teachers in large numbers, my brothers, since you know that we who are teachers will incur a stricter judgment.  James 3:1  NASB. And I believe this judgment is also by the people.

Many people in the Bible acted passive-aggressive or aggressively. You can probably name a few that fit under these categories, like Ahab and Jezebel, which I cover in The Spirit of Leviathan.

What is passive-aggressive behavior?

Passive aggression is complicated speech riddled with hidden jabs or sarcasm that often comes across as covert or cloaked in hidden emotions. The person lacks communication skills to address their true feelings. Passive aggressive people can be good at giving the silent treatment if their egos are bruised or, worse, Ghost you. This is punishment, and often the person on the receiving end has no idea what they have done. There’s a difference between healthy boundaries and ghosting people. We must be careful to check which one we are doing and how we feel when it’s done to us.

Very Well Mind blog site gives a list of examples of Passive-aggressive behavior

1. Ghost” you, or seemingly disappear

1. Give you a backhanded compliment (“I saw you did the dishes. I was surprised.”)

2. Give you the silent treatment

1. Indirectly refuse your request (not tell you no, but also not do what you’ve asked)

2. Make excuses rather than say what is on their mind.

3. Procrastinate when you’ve asked them to do something

4. Respond to your requests with sarcasm or subtle digs.

The Mayo Clinic defines “passive-aggressive behavior as a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them. There’s a disconnect between what a person who exhibits passive-aggressive behavior says and what he or she does.”

Sometimes these characteristics happen due to childhood pain and resentment. And often, it drips down on our children, who mimic what we do. Were you raised with a narcissistic parent or a person who punished you by using silence? Or a parent who was tight-lipped? Passive aggressive people often do not like authority. They may find persons of authority pompous, or if it’s a boss, they might procrastinate on what they are supposed to be doing and not do their best. If their young, they might mock or lack honor for authority.

WebMD describes it in this manner:

“Someone who uses passive aggression may feel angry, resentful, or frustrated, but they act neutral, pleasant, or even cheerful. They then find indirect ways to show how they really feel.”

These indirect ways of showing “how we really feel” are in need of repentance. These issues often involve hidden areas that need healing. If we are doing anything for anyone that we agreed to do, whether it’s on the job or at home, and we are angry inside and have no desire—show up late or Halfway do what was asked, then we are in sin.

I once asked a person to fix a wooden item of furniture. This was done poorly and quickly and not in a manner anyone would want to showcase in their home. I had supplied all the wood and furniture legs/parts, but the finished product had to be taken elsewhere. They offered to do it when I asked them but waited until the last minute, complained, threw items, and finally said, “here, it’s done.” I was hurt because I loved this person, and they were family.

Sometime later, the person wanted to show me an item they had made out of wood. It was perfect. Sanded. Stained, and they were so proud of it. It was for their home.

They had no desire to do a simple task for me but said yes.

The Bible says we work unto Abba Father. We don’t work for bosses. We work for one boss. The Boss!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ (Yeshua Messiah) you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24.

Anger, frustration, and displeasure are normal emotions. People who rely on passive aggression rather than direct communication to show these emotions often grew up in a family where that behavior was typical. It might not have felt safe for them to express their feelings as a child directly. Possibly they were made to do many things they resented and even responsibilities that were not theirs.

Passive-aggressive people often don’t ask or speak up about what they want. Like Ahab pouting in bed over a vineyard he wanted, this behavior is childlike. It’s time to grow up.

Passive-aggressive people have a hard time letting things go. They might tell you to “let it go,” but they often can’t. And they will use manipulation, silent treatment, or all-out revenge. Yeshua gives us a formula that starts with going directly to our brother or sister when an issue arises.

One example of this behavior might be your spouse or roommate who knows you’ve been taking finals, working overtime, or stressed out, arrives home at dinner time with food for themselves and the kids. Still, when you ask where your food is, they reply, “ well, I know how you hate fast food, so I didn’t think you’d want anything.” Then they magically eat it in front of you.

Another example is someone who gets upset and takes off to the store for an item but stays gone for hours, refusing to answer their cell phone, knowing you need the item to finish dinner. When confronted, they say their phone was out of range.

Or another example might be a friend who’s upset with you and is having a party but purposefully does not invite you or makes sure to schedule it when she knows you won’t be able to attend.

She’s passively and manipulatively getting back at you.

We are not to be cowards. We must use our words to let people know they have hurt us or made promises and did not keep their word. And we must learn to say no or express our feelings better. People cannot read our minds.

Leviticus 19:17 says, “Do not harbor hatred against your brother. Rebuke your neighbor directly, and you will not incur sin because of him.”

But passive-aggressive people do not usually go directly to their neighbors. They go everywhere else and gossip and get even angrier. If someone mentions the name of the person who wronged you years ago and they express how much they like the person, Do you start feeling anger? Do you still have resentment? Are you ready to sabotage the person’s character?

When we don’t openly confront, and I’m not talking about childish things, but when we don’t clear the air or worse, we take the matter into our own hands by getting back at the person, we are in sin.

If we are to mimic Yeshua, we have giant shoes to fill, and yes, none of us are perfect. No one can fill His Shoes. But do we keep our word unless it’s a matter of life and death, or do we justify our actions? Am I my brother’s keeper?

Passive-aggressive people need to say what they mean, but that does not imply vomiting on others. It doesn’t mean speaking with harsh words—It just means being direct, which can be done lovingly.

Do we keep score? Or try to sabotage others’ successes? Is there jealousy? Secrecy?

Do we say things with an underlying meaning, such as “ I hope you like your new house/ car/ job? Of course, it’s nothing I would pick out. You couldn’t pay me to live in this area. I would never drive a Toyota or work at a bank, grocery, hospital, etc.

If we are to imitate God and His Son Yeshua, we must allow Yeshua to wash our feet. Introspective work is the most challenging work we will ever do. It’s digging and excavating. It’s often painful to look in the laver and see our reflection, but we must have clean hands and a pure heart. And we must wash our feet.

I wanted to write about many of these things because, many times, the “church” does not.

If you have not read the whole series, start at the beginning. There is much for all of us to work on.


Tekoa Manning

Part IThe Know it All

Part The Martyr ComplexII

Part III CoDependency and freedom

Part IV Triangulation

2 thoughts on “Passive Aggressive Behavior: order and Beauty

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  1. I am late to the series and actually started with ‘triangulation’. Passive aggressive is the most bothersome in my every day life so I jumped ship to here. This is an extremely helpful post!! Our Father started with me showing my behavior in reaction to that ‘other’ which shall not be named… 🙂
    Being a recipient of fairly constant p-a behavior around here, my prayer is where to start after 46[?] years. Pray with me/for me that I obey the ways in which Abba will answer my recovery of wrong ways in Him and how to communicate after years of non-verbalness! I love how you cover so many bases when you write and I fully intend to read all in the series. I surely do not ‘know it all’!! <3 <3

    1. Good morning, Princess JoAnne! This Passive/aggressive stuff is no kids game. I deal with it often. Some families are raised with the silent treatment for punishment, or they hold all their emotions bottled up and do not know how to communicate. I was raised in a family where no one knew when to stop talking. LOL Opposites attract. Abba has jokes. I know when struggling with many of the things in the series or seeing some of the issues in others around me, I wanted to keep digging in deeper. Mussar is helpful but so is psychology. I send articles or encourage watching shows or teachings that allow discussions concerning this behavior trait, but it is difficult. As women, we are often wondering what our spouses are thinking. Needing encouragement and words of affirmation. Taking the love language test helped us learn each other’s love languages. I need words!!! No steaks or rings or roses–I need words. Praying for you and those in your life to become balanced–not passive–not aggressive. Praying you receive calm direct communication from others you love. I love you dearly. Thanks for stopping by.

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