Most of the pain and anguish we receive from other people is a result of their own pain. I often say that hurting people hurt people. When someone is miserable, it inevitably comes out somewhere—and it usually comes out on somebody.
So, how do you love the people in your life who are hard to love? Well, we can’t do it on our own—we need God’s help! In Part 1 of this article, I began sharing what God says in His Word about how to respond to difficult people. Some of them may surprise you!
The truth is, we’re never going to be able to prevent people from saying or doing things that hurt our feelings. But if we do things God’s way, we can choose to save ourselves a lot of misery and hardship.
Be Ready to Forgive
I recently saw a movie that really impacted me. The main character had been mistreated very badly, but he eventually chose to forgive the person. Even his wife asked him, "How can you forgive?" His answer has stuck with me ever since. He replied:
"If you forgive, you only have to do that once. But if you hate, you have to do that every day for the rest of your life."
I encourage you to be quick to forgive—leave it and let it go. If you need to confront a person about their behavior or discuss the issue, that is important. But even then, don’t allow the poison of unforgiveness to ruin your life.
Cover Their Sin & Don’t Gossip!
First Peter 4:8 says that ...love covers a multitude of sins.... What does this mean? In practical terms, it’s saying that we shouldn’t expose people’s faults to someone else.
This can be difficult. When we’re hurting, we want to call everyone we know and start gossiping—“Well, you just wouldn’t believe what they said to me!”
Yes, there are times when it’s healthy to talk to someone about an issue. And there are obvious cases like abuse where it’s important to let others know. But for most day-to-day offenses, the Lord asks us to love and protect people.
Help Them If They Need Help...and Don’t Gloat!
What if someone at work—a person who is difficult and hard to love—is stranded in the parking lot because their car won’t start? What we feeling like thinking is, That serves you right! I hope it takes you all night to get home!
But the Lord is asking us to love that person through our actions. I love Exodus 23:5—it’s so practical. It says, If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying [helpless] under his load, you shall refrain from leaving the man to cope with it alone; you shall help him to release the animal.
Remember, we are Christ’s representatives here on earth. God wants to use us to win these people for Him!
Treat People the Way You Want to be Treated
Years ago, I was the person who was hard to love. I didn’t do it on purpose—I just had all kinds of problems on the inside of me, and I needed somebody to show me Jesus.
Well, my husband Dave was a mature, godly Christian who did all of the things I am teaching in this article. No matter how much I complained or argued, he refused to give in and refused to let me steal his peace and joy. After a while, I became jealous of him—I wanted what he had!
I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for Dave. God used him to love me into wholeness. And you have the same opportunity.
The Lord knows what you’re going through, and He wants to give you the grace to forgive people (over and over if necessary!) and love them from a sincere heart.
As you do, you are sowing seeds of breakthrough in your life and theirs. Because in the end, love never fails (see 1 Corinthians 13:8).
Let Them Out of the Dog House
Is there someone in your life who is difficult to love? If so, take a few moments to pray for yourself and them right now. Then choose to begin putting the following principles into practice.
- Believe the best (1 Cor 13:7)
- Pray for yourself (Matt 7:3-5)
- Pray for them (Matt 5:44)
- Be ready to forgive (Eph 4:32)
- Cover their sin (1 Pet 4:8)
- Don’t gossip! (Prov 11:13)
- Bless them with your words (Eph 4:29)
- Help them if they need help (Luke 6:27)
- Don’t gloat when they have trouble (Prov 24:17)
- Treat people the way you want to be treated (Matt 7:12)