DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
by CASEY REALE
James 4:1-2: 'What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. '
This last Sunday, Pastor Jesse gave an amazing message around the subject of dealing with difficult people. And while it was a message that challenged us, it is often those messages that God uses to speak and to help us navigate some of our toughest situations in our life.
We all have that family member who can be a little bit more challenging to get along with or to tolerate. They get under your skin, they just act difficult and sometimes, we honestly just want them to grow up a little bit.
The fact of the matter is that being a part of a true family REQUIRES you to deal with difficult people. God actually will go so far as to start to bring difficult people into our world as an opportunity to show love rather than live in a clean atmosphere.
And when we deal with those difficult people, it can oftentimes feel like we need to be the one to change them or put them in their place. But if you notice what James writes, he says, “... Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within YOU?”
Ouch. When that tip of the spear gets turned back around at us we say, but God! They are...they’re the one who...but… We see that God wants to do a change in us just as much as He wants to do a change in them. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but God wants us to remember that instead of trying to change others, God wants to do a change in us first.
All points of frustration and points of anger start with desiring something that we cannot have. James 4:2 says, “You want what you don’t have…”. Bitterness and resentment are often found to be a place of contention because there was a great desire was left unmet. Sometimes, justified wants and desires can be our greatest enemy.
However, here is the solution and we see it again in James 4:2, “...Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” It’s simple. Of course it is, but how often do we avoid having a conversation with God about it? If we were truly honest, it’s probably because if we ask God about it, we know that He’d be more interested in doing a change in us than He would be in changing the person or our circumstance.
Maybe God gave you someone in your life who is difficult is to change you more so than them. We often think it’s the absence of problems that means we are walking in blessing, but sometimes God brings you difficult people in order to show us what living in a blessed life is all about.
FIVE DIFFICULT THINGS FOR DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Overlook the offense:
In order to move forward in this we must be able to look past people’s faults and choose to love. Because love overlooks the wrongs of others and the Bible tells us that “....love covers a multitude of sins.” When faced with the opportunity to deal with difficult people, if we can choose to not be offended by what they do or what they say, we will have a greater opportunity to move forward into a stronger relationship with them. Love looks past the behavior to the pain in their life.
Pray for them:
We’ve all heard this before, but we’ve not always applied it. Have you ever noticed that when you start talking to God about someone, you start to innately realize that the person is a child of God? And that you wouldn’t talk to God, at least for too long, about how bad that person is being. When we pray for the difficult people in our life we cannot guarantee that God with change them, but we can guarantee that God will change us.
Colossians 3:13 states, “... Remember, the Lord forgave you so you MUST forgive others.” Forgiveness is one of those things that has nothing to do with the other person. It has everything to do with us. If we can just muster the courage to forgive them and let go, we will be letting the prisoner go (ourselves) free from the bondage and walls we trapped them (ourselves) in. Even Jesus did this on the cross! If Jesus has forgiven us so much that we have no choice, but to forgive others!
What does this mean? It means to say great things about them! Make your language about them be a blessing and not a curse. Jesus said, “But those who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!” God wants to us to build a blessed world out of the depths of our heart through our mouth. Your words create the world around you. So build a blessed world.
Do good to them:
This takes it a step further and is an action of doing good to the person who is difficult. Romans 12:21 states, “...Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” It isn’t just ‘killing them with kindness’ by turning the other cheek, but by going through the difficulty with them and choosing to do good to and for them.
While it may not be easy to swallow, choosing to look past the wrongs of others, to pray for them, forgive them, to bless them with our words and to choose to do good to them will ultimately allow us to grow closer and love people better. If we’ve received this much love from Jesus, we have no choice, but to extend the same blessings to others.