Now it’s going to happen. We will end up working or living with someone that we don’t especially like. Someone that we would prefer not to deal with. It’s true that we live among people, and unless you live in a monastery on your own, it can’t be avoided in everyday life.
And there’s the issue. How do we do with people that are difficult or those that just seem to rub us up the wrong way?
And what about those people that, honestly speaking, we prefer not to speak to? But we really have to. And you might have been brought up with that old saying, “If you can’t say something nice to someone, don’t say anything.” You heard that before.
That can be a problem. As you go through life, you will find someone guaranteed that you don’t like. Maybe you’ve done something to make that person dislike you. Or maybe it’s nothing specific at all, but just something about them gets under your skin.
Feuds and Forgiveness
Some years ago, the music rock legends Keith Richard and Elton John made headlines with public insults of one another, and that was a shame. I won’t tell you what they were saying about each other, but it was very vindictive and they were delivering these cheap shots at each other, and they both wound up looking pretty petty and vindictive.
And there are times when you rub someone up the wrong way, and it could be that you are the difficult person for someone else. And 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 that God wants us to live in unity with people. The Bible says this. Put up with each other, forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It’s what ties everything completely together. That’s Colossians 3:13-14.
So we live in a real world where sometimes awful things are said. But we are told to show love and forgiveness at all times, even when it’s difficult to do that. Now, of course, does that mean sweeping conflict under the rug? Never dealing with it. No, it doesn’t mean that. But it does mean we don’t resort to name calling and hostility with people that we may not agree with or don’t agree with us.
And there’s one more thing I’d like to say. Our actions are more important than our feelings.
The fragility of feelings
You know, in winter time we get ready for work, we open the front door and there’s that blast of winter air and you realise, ‘Gee, I didn’t put that coat on or I need a scarf’. So you go back inside and you grab that coat or jumper. You clothed yourself accordingly, don’t you?
The Bible says something similar. “Clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” as said in Colossians 3:12. And sometimes we have to cover our feelings by putting on as it were, the right behaviour. Now what I mean by that is your feelings might be sending you one direction. That’s emotionally, and you can select your attitudes and behaviours that move you in the right direction. In other words, you don’t have to be controlled by your emotions.
And if you get angry and say things that you regret, it’s not going to help. It’s not going to make you a better person, it certainly won’t help improve that relationship.
Just because you feel something doesn’t mean you have to say it. If you feel dislike for someone, but you end up showing them kindness as hard as that might be, you’re actually showing a Christian attitude.
You can’t always control the way you feel. That’s true, isn’t it?
But you can control the way you act. And so that’s why the Bible has those words. Be gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient. You can’t change things that happen in your life all the time, or some of the people that are difficult to get on with. But you can, of course, change how you react or how you respond to them. A little tip, of course, is to try and include Jesus in every conversation. Some years ago, hundreds of, in fact, thousands of people around the World wore bracelets and it had the letters W W. J. D. on these bracelets, it stood for what would Jesus do?
And it’s a good question to ask. What would Jesus say if he was in my situation, you may not always know what he would say, But you know what he wouldn’t say.
And that’s why Paul said, let the message about Christ completely fill our lives or fill your lives. Let the peace, he says. That comes from Christ. Control your thoughts and be grateful.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for these very helpful words. We need to get on with people, help us and show us how. Amen.