Have you ever had to face disappointment or shame or frustration which stems from the actions of difficult people in your life? People who say things they know nothing about, people who wrongly assume things about you. These are people who deliberately sow mistrust, doubt and resentment in an effort to control and to manipulate. How does Jesus expect us to handle these people?
Our first reaction is often aggressive – wishing we could bless them with a brick! It would, of course, do little to help the situation.
God instructs us in His Word to “love our enemies”. Not an easy task, but not impossible either. Love implies a decision to make room for the other, to understand that their actions are borne out of a heart of hate or hurt and to pray for the love of God to fill their hearts and minds.
Loving difficult people does not mean we like them or we like what they are doing. In fact, we can strongly dislike them and still have a heart and attitude of love towards them. Love forgives (it doesn’t condone), Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians: 4-7)
Has any one of us the capacity to love a difficult person in such a way? Humanly speaking – NO. Such love is only possible if we have experienced the love of God poured into our hearts once we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. It is a divine love; human love will falter. We will reach the end of our tether. But through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we are able to love the unlovable, and forgive the unforgivable!
Why don’t we just ignore the difficult people and cut them out of our lives?
We are called to represent the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. We are called to carry God’s presence wherever we go, to bring life to dead situations, to shed light in the darkness, to bring flavour where there is none. Running from difficult people is not the solution. It might be necessary to place boundaries and to not allow them access to your heart’s chambers. But they need us. They need what we have and the One Whom we know. They need to gain a fuller understanding of who Jesus is and who He wants them to be. And we might be the link. Does that mean we are fully responsible for them? Not at all, but we are responsible to God for each opportunity He places in our lives.
Prayer: Father, I commit my life to you and ask you to lead me by your Holy Spirit. Let your love flow through me and help me to love the difficult people in my life.