For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3
Some people are, how should I say this, well they are… difficult to be around for us. We may work with them, go to church with them, see them at the ballpark, or might even be related to them. They have a special gift of annoying us. They make our blood pressure go up. We want to run from the room to get away from them. We might even want to punch them if we are honest!
Before we talk about “those” difficult people, we need to first look in the mirror at ourselves. Is it possible we can be difficult? If so it should immediately hit us here that the same grace we want from others we should extend to those we find difficult. We want people to be gracious to us even when it’s our fault. You better believe God demands we give that same grace to others.
What defines someone as difficult? A difficult person is someone who knows how to push our buttons, whether they know they are doing it or not. Their Facebook post annoys us. Every laugh is like nails on a chalkboard. They can be condescending, selfish, argumentative, or simply rude. We try to ignore them but instead it is like they are highlighted. They always find a way to get our attention. We know we are wrong to let it get under our skin but it still happens!
Jesus dealt with quite a few difficult people! When Jesus dealt with those people who were difficult, he never reacted with a sense that he was superior to them nor did he dismiss them out of pride. Superiority and dismissal can be subtle but don’t miss the harshness of the two. Both stem from pride. Most who have this attitude fail to see the very obvious sins in their life. They are annoyed by “difficult” people but many might see them as difficult! Ironic, huh? It just points to them not being self aware. And because they can be pretty harsh to those who they see as difficult, their friends are scared to be honest with them about their own annoying quirks. They don’t stand up because they don’t want to be tagged as one of those difficult people who get belittled.
Some of us are hypersensitive. We are easily annoyed. If that is you be careful. Be careful that you don’t surround yourself with like minded people who do the same thing. Or people who are scared to stand up to you and agree with you so you will like them. They will justify you and join in as you speak condescendingly about those “difficult” people. Also be careful that you don’t start sentences with “I know I shouldn’t say this” or “I know I am wrong in what I am about to say.” Admitting it is wrong and then doing it does not make it better somehow. If you are hypersensitive then you are letting difficult people control you. Yep, they own you. They govern where you can sit, what groups you will be in, what ministries you will serve in.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was quite specific about dealing with difficult people in love and humility: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27–31). We must never give tit for tat: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
Watch out for pride. Don’t think so highly of yourself. What if instead you loved them like you loved yourself. What if you focuse din on those things that are healthy and beneficial about them? How would that change things?
This blog is most likely not a message you want to be confronted with but maybe it is exactly what Jesus wants you to hear today. Have the courage to check your spirit and repent of wrong attitude and hatefulness.