By Chris WittsSaturday 16 Feb 2019Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
It’s going to happen. We will end up working with someone we don’t especially like, or having to make contact with someone we would prefer not to deal with.
We live among people, and unless we live in a monastery alone, it can’t be avoided. It’s all about everyday life. And there is this issue: how do we deal with people that are difficult, or those that just seem to rub us up the wrong way? What about those we prefer not to speak to, but we have to?
You may have been brought up with the old saying, If you can’t say something nice to someone don’t say anything. It can be a real problem—and as you go through life you will find somebody you don’t like. Maybe they’ve done something to hurt you or maybe it’s nothing specific—something about them gets under your skin.
Some years ago rock music legends Keith Richards and Elton John made headlines with public insults of one another. It was a shame because they are successful men, and yet found time to deliver cheap shots at each other. They both wound up looking petty and vindictive.
Also, there are times when you rub someone up the wrong way—you might be a difficult person for someone else. So I think we need to ask God to show us ways of handling difficult people. How to get on with everyone, because the Bible says God wants us to live in unity with everybody.
Paul wrote to the Colossian Christians: “Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together”. (Colossians 3:13-14 – CEV)
We live in a real world where awful things are sometimes said, but we need to show love and forgiveness at all times, even when it’s very difficult to do so. Does this mean we sweep conflict under the rug and never deal with it? No, but it means we don’t have to resort to name calling and hostility with others who don’t agree with us.
What Would Jesus Do?
Let’s recall one more thing. Our actions are more important than our feelings. In winter, have you got ready for work, opened the front door, and been hit by a blast of winter air, and realised you need extra clothing? So, you go back inside and grab a coat or jumper. You clothe yourself accordingly. And that’s what the Bible says, “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12 – NIV).
Sometimes we have to cover our feelings by putting on—as it were—the right behaviour. Your feelings might be sending you one direction emotionally, but you can select attitudes and behaviours that move you in the right direction. You don’t have to be controlled by your emotions. Spitting out hostile, angry, mean words at someone you don’t like is not going to help. It’s not going to make you a better person and it certainly won’t improve the relationship.
Just because you feel something doesn’t mean you have to say it. If you feel dislike for someone and show them kindness, you’re showing a Christian attitude. You can’t always control the way you feel, but you can control the way you act. So, as the Bible says be gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient. You may not be able to change things that happen or occur in your life, or some of the people who are difficult for you to deal with—but you can change how you react or respond to them.
Another little tip is try to include Jesus in every conversation. Some years ago hundreds of thousands of young people around the world wore bracelets with the letters ‘WWJD’. It stood for what would Jesus do? It’s a good question to ask yourself—or What would Jesus say if he was in my situation?
You may not always know what Jesus would say, but you’d know for certain what he wouldn’t say! That’s why the apostle Paul said. “Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives” (Colossians 3:16 – CEV). I think it means when there is conflict with someone, we try to discuss it calmly, or we keep quiet, and seek peace with that person. Colossians 3:15 (CEV) says, “So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful”.
If you haven’t personally experienced the peace of God that passes all understanding, then it’s no wonder your relationships are rocky. You can’t give to someone else what you don’t have. Isaiah 26:3 (CEV) says, “The Lord gives perfect peace to those whose faith is firm”. If you let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, people will less likely rub you up the wrong way.