“Frequently the enemy entices Christians to harbor an unforgiving spirit - a very common symptom indeed among God's children. Such bitterness and fault-finding and enmity inflict a severe blow upon spiritual life.” ~ Watchman Nee
Let’s face it; sometimes people are hard to love, and boulders of offense can “snowball” inside us, until hurt from others hinders us from the fullness of missional living, Christ intended.
And don’t we all want weightless lives, filled with the joy and rewards of truly passionate missional living, sold out, willingly, and obediently surrendered to Him?
So, let’s talk about letting go. Softening our hearts is a two part process. First, it must involve us. Second, it requires the grace of God working through us.
God tells us more than once that it is our job to break up the fallow ground of our hearts. (Hosea 10:12, Jer. 4:3) Soft soil requires purposeful and willing forgiveness of those who have offended us. Remember 70 x 7? (Matt 18:21-22)
Second, the healing of our hearts requires the miracle working power of God. Ezekial 36:26 reads, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you and heart of flesh.”
So clearly, Christ died that we might be free to love unloving people, but it is also our choice to love and keeping loving those who offend us.
So, what about when the same people continue to intentionally offend us?
Let’s face it, Jesus chose Judas though He knew he would betray Him. Jesus fearlessly walked straight into Pharisees territory, knowing he would be ridiculed, questioned, and eventually persecuted. But, we are not God.
So, before knowing how to handle difficult people in your lives, it would be wise to first pray for discernment. Is the person in your life like Potipher’s wife, someone causing you to stumble who you should intentionally be running from? Or is the offense more subtle, more of a “thorn in your flesh” type of person God wants to use to refine you?
If it’s the later, here are 10 Biblical tools to help you deal with difficult, unloving people:
1. Trust God knows what He is doing. (Prov 3:5-6)
2. Do not repay evil for evil. (1 Peter 3:9)
3. Do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)
4. Pray for your enemies. (Matt 5:44)
5. Remember, vengeance is the Lords. (Romans 12:19)
6. Understand others often don’t know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
7. Do not look to hurtful people for counsel or your identity. (Psalms 1:1-6)
8. Know, love triumphs all, lays down life willingly, and covers a multitude of sins. (John 15:13, 1 John 4:11, 1 Peter 4:8)
9. Trust love overcomes, binds together, and can heal in time, difficult relationships. (Romans 12:20-21, Col 3:14)
10. Keep in mind the truth of how Christ also forgave you. (Eph 4:32, Col 3:13)
So, will you join me in setting aside your rights, emotions, and stop defending yourself from those who unlovingly rub you the wrong way?
For if offense and division are the weapons the enemy uses to stop us from Missional Living, what if we committed to loving unlovable people unconditionally right now? Would we reach more? Stretch farther? Expand our tent stakes all for the sake of the gospel?
I think so. Don’t you?
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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