We all have those people in our lives that bring out the worst in us. No matter how hard we try to be civil, understanding, and loving toward them, there is something about their personalities or lifestyle choices that sets us on edge, shreds every ounce of patience we have, and leaves us feeling like we have been run over by a freight train. If you are the parent of a strong-willed teenager or adult child who has not quite grown up, you know exactly what I mean.
If we didn’t have God’s Word to teach us how to love others and the Holy Spirit to convict us of our own wrongdoing when we allow others to bring out the sinful nature in us, we would be lost and without hope. But we do have God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us, giving us the strength and resolve we need to extend the love and grace of God to even the most difficult people in our lives. Seldom is it easy, but it is possible to love someone who isn’t easy to love.
The most important thing we have to remember is that God loves not only us, but also the person we find so challenging to love. Jesus didn’t just die on the cross for us; He also died for them! In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded His followers, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:44-46, 48, NIV). Sometimes when we are in the heat of the battle with others, especially with those in our own families, we may feel as though we are being persecuted for the stand we take or the beliefs we hold. We must remember the words of our Lord and continue loving and praying even for those who offend us. Although we may be powerless in our own strength to love difficult people, God’s grace is sufficient in our weakness to love even those we would consider a “thorn in our flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
It is important that we control our tongues and that we demonstrate God’s love to others, particularly those who most need it. If we cannot control our anger and instead lash out against those who hurt or offend us, how will they come to know God and His love? They must first see it demonstrated in us. The Apostle John wrote these words: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-8, 11).
Will you endeavor, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to demonstrate God’s love to that person you find so difficult to love? Perhaps the place to begin is by praying for that individual and asking God to give you eyes to see him or her the way God does, as someone so dearly loved that God was willing to give His only Son to open the way to eternal fellowship with Him.