I do not consider myself very media savvy, but if there is one thing I have learned from my experience on social media, it is this:
What are these things called? Posters? Illustrations? Woeful attempts at humor?
Whatever they are, they’re everywhere. Some of their statements are rather uplifting and encouraging. But there is a category of these posters rife with testimonies of giving up and casting aside. The messages sound something like this:
I don’t have time to make unworthy people a priority.
Mess with me and you’re out of my life.
Add value to my life or you’re not worth my effort.
I’ve tried long enough; I’m done putting up with you.
I find these types of statements distressing, particularly when promoted by believers in Christ.
Before I go any further, let me start with a disclaimer: I realize that different people will read this post with different lenses. Some of you might truly be suffering abuse. I am not trying to imply that this is a good thing or that you should do nothing to protect yourself.
The situation I’m talking about is the stuff we might encounter with a family member, neighbor, co-worker, or even a church member:
We’re giving up on them.
Because they’re annoying. They never give back. They try to make us look bad. They don’t give us the benefit of the doubt. They want to see us fail. They are rude, angry, hateful, arrogant, and just plain mean.
And life would be so much easier if we didn’t have to deal them!
But that’s not the gospel.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing and rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior…”
We love this about God. We love that He loved us when we were rude, arrogant, and hateful toward Him. Yet, we withhold love from the very people that, in His sovereignty, God has placed around us.
Would life be easier if we didn’t have difficult people to deal with? Yes.
But then we’d remain just as we are, with no opportunity to be more like our Savior.
When we respond with kind hearts and calm words to the people who test us, we are telling God, “This is a glimpse of what you did for me. I see how hard it was, and I will not take it for granted.”
When we love the unlovable, we live out the same gospel that Jesus lived out for us.
So how do we respond to difficult people?
1. God may call us to actively pursue peace with that person. If he directs you to take specific action, do it. Trust him with the results.
2. Pray for those who make life difficult, knowing that difficult people have great hurt that God can heal! God may be using YOU to bring that person to Himself. This is a privilege and blessing. So keep praying for them. As you pray, keep this in mind:
To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in his mercy.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
3. No matter what happens, love them anyway.
What testimony will you write on the poster of your life? A declaration that you’ve deserted, or an echo of the gospel of Christ?