“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NIV)
One of the most important skills you can develop as you walk with Christ is to love difficult people. Here are four loving responses Jesus modeled when he encountered difficult people:
- Realize you can’t please everybody. Even God can’t do that! Jesus didn’t mince words when he was talking to a group of religious leaders called Pharisees. He said to them, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?” (Matthew 22:18, NIV). Jesus refused to play games. You can too.
- Learn to say no to unrealistic expectations. The Bible says you’re like Jesus when you’re “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV). It’s fine to say no — just say it with love.
- Never retaliate. It only lowers you to their level. Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:38-39, NIV).
- Pray for them. It will help you and the difficult people in your life. Jesus’ instructions are simple and clear: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, NIV). Pray for difficult people, and then trust that God will speak to them.
You encounter difficult people every day. And you’ll often be tempted to react in negative ways. Instead, try loving them through these four responses. You’ll find your relationships strengthened and your character becoming more like Jesus.
Father, grant me the strength to deal with difficult people, including how I view myself, as Jesus would have us do: With love, patience and prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.