I would venture to guess that many reading this today have difficult people in their lives. They are the people with whom you have frequent or constant friction. They annoy you, irritate you, and you would avoid them if you could. Some of them are just Gloomy Gus's always finding that sliver of darkness in any silver cloud. They are happy to tell you every negative detail of their day and see little joy in anything.
How do you deal with them? What is your goal in interacting with the difficult and grumbley people? If you are like me, you sometimes have success in accepting them for who they are and not letting them get under your skin or spoil your day. Other times, the response or reaction is less than godly and you find yourself being as difficult as they are!
None of us are sinless and even though we are Christians we still struggle with the deeds of the flesh and the wicked desires of the sinful heart (Jer. 17:9).
When you think about it, God deals with difficult people every day too. Both groups; the unregenerate and those professing Christ as Savior are difficult in their own way. How does God deal with us? What is God's goal in how He deals with us?
The Lord deals with His people gently and lovingly even when we are being disciplined for our sin. The Lord is patient and kind with us... and as I write this the passage from 1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor. 13:4-7 (NASB)
Our Loving Father is patient with us! We are so unbelievably unlovable and difficult! Our hearts are full of rebellion and even hatred toward Him and yet He is long suffering with us. Not only is He is long suffering as we live in rebellion and disobedience but He actively pursues us in the midst of it all!
The Lord pursues us and showers us with goodness and kindness as He does so. Even if you are in the midst of difficult circumstances the fact that you draw your next breath is evidence of His goodness and kindness toward you! The fact that He allows you another day to repent and change is further testimony to His loving pursuit of you. He desires that you become all that He has ordained you to be!
Shouldn't this be our goal for the difficult people in our lives? Isn't the nature of agape love (self-sacrificing love) giving away what we have, even to our very lives? Showing them the same kind of grace and mercy that has been shown to us when we did not deserve it? I believe it is, and I also believe it is something God calls each of us to do. It is not always going to be easy but it is a part of being conformed to the image and likeness of Christ.
Sometimes you will have to confess your sin to these people which will be very humbling for you. If you have sinned against them in some way and have something against you, now is the time to make this right with them. It is the first step in building a relationship with them. Admit to them that you struggle too! Let them see your failings and struggles. This may give them hope as they see you struggling to honor God in your life, they can too!
You just might have to pursue them and befriend them. This is also hard, particularly if they are not very likable. Yes, it would be much easier to ignore them and join in the gossip and bashing that goes on but would that honor God?
See if there is a need in their life that you can provide without having any expectation of receiving anything in return. You must be aware that involving yourself in the life of another person will not make your life easier, in fact it will make it harder! Trust that God will help you and pray for His direction and guidance as you seek to serve the difficult person.
More next time!