Loving hard and wicked people is not as easy as it seems. Sometimes you want to hit them or rain down curses for the hurt and pain they have brought upon you. Some of these people may be your colleagues, neighbors, superiors, relatives, employers, customers, etc. The truth is that having negative thoughts toward these people is normal. In addition, the desire to retaliate and become offensive may come naturally. However, as a Christian, you have to deal with these thoughts and love even those who inflict pain on you. If you want to know how to love difficult people, keep reading.
Sometimes it is quite intriguing how some people react in the face of opposition. Let’s take, for example, Moses. He is certainly the man who had the most experiences with difficult people in the book of Numbers. Even after being freed from slavery and taken to safety away from the Egyptians, the Israelites were not happy with him. Instead of being grateful for their new freedom and God’s blessings, they wept over their situation. They were unhappy with their food; they complained about the drinking water; they said some nasty words that they preferred to die in Egypt and have another leader. It got to the point that even Moses’ brother and sister were jealous of his position and complained to God about him and his wife.
There are a lot of lessons to learn from how Moses dealt with the difficulties he encountered. For example, Moses didn’t fight back at this annoying group; He didn’t even defend himself when harshly accused. On the contrary, he showed incredible humility and compassion for those he led, interceding for them time and time again. He begged God to forgive Israel’s unbelief at the time of his entry into the Promised Land. He prostrates before God, fasting forty days and forty nights for these same extremely difficult people.
Why Are People Difficult?
People are difficult for several reasons. But unfortunately, the difficult and wicked people did not choose to be the hardest to love. At a point in their lives, something happens that changes their perspective towards responding to people. For example, someone who had suffered abandonment, betrayal, and rape did not choose those circumstances for themselves. But after going through all of that without previous experiences and without any proper guidance, they tend to be more difficult toward others.
Also, people can become difficult due to psychological and personality disorders. Research has shown that people with personality disorders begin their hatred for people during their formative years. Other people are difficult due to spiritual attacks. For example, the mad man in the garden of Gadara (Luke 8:26-39) was an extremely difficult person not because of psychological disorder or past experiences. But it was due to the presence of a demon in his being.
It is important to note that this is not a way of justifying that being difficult is something to be proud about. Instead, it is an attempt to reveal that people who are difficult to love are bad people. But certain situations occurred in their life that made them who they are.
Why Show Love to Difficult People
While it can be very difficult to love difficult people, there is still no excuse for not loving them. One of the greatest teachers that the world has ever seen, Jesus, made a profound statement in the book of Luke. He questioned the difference between a man who claims to be a child of God yet acts only in kindness to the man who is kind to him. However, he acts opposite to the one who treats him badly, which is the same thing an unbeliever would do. His conclusion was to go the extra mile and love your enemies and do good to them without expecting to be repaid (Luke 6:32-36). Here are some reasons to why you should love difficult people;
- Loving is a command and not an option: This may sound strange, or you may think God is unfair. Sometimes, people try to rationalize why they should love their arrogant and ever-demanding boss or ungrateful stepmother. The reason is simple. When you decide to be a child of God, it is expected that you live a life that reveals the nature of God. And since God is love and shows love even to the deepest sinner. Therefore, as a Christain, you are expected to love all men regardless of their actions towards you.
- Love is a means to conquer hatred: There is too much hatred and frustration around people. However, when you show them love, you prove to them that there is a higher possibility that exists aside from their current situations. This means that even the hardest person on earth can be conquered when you show love to them.
- Heavenly Rewards: Most people usually wonder about the quickest way of receiving heavenly rewards. Becoming loving to difficult people is a way of amassing great rewards in heaven. You may be wondering how that is possible. Jesus taught that if you go the extra mile and love your enemies and do good to them without expecting to be repaid, your reward from heaven will be great. Also, you will be regarded as children of the Most High.
How to Love Difficult People
Loving difficult people is not as easy as it seems, but here are some tips on how to love them;
Pray for your own heart: Ask God to soften your heart toward that person, remove anger and irritation, clothe yourself in humility and kindness, understand that person’s sufferings, and respond with compassion (Colossians 3:12–14).
Pray for them: Ask God to work in their hearts, bring to Him those who do not believe, and sanctify believers so that they may be more like Jesus (Philippians 1:9-11).
Go to them instead of moving away: You may tend to avoid people with whom you do not get along well. Instead of moving away from them, find ways to talk with them, invite them for coffee, send them messages and perform kind gestures.
Keep calm: When someone irritates you, avoid the forthcoming problem by trying to keep calm rather than reacting promptly. If necessary, you can simply pretend to have to go to the bathroom in order to have an excuse to take a break and breathe slowly for a few minutes. The simple fact of focusing on our breathing already makes us take a step back from the situation.
Understand the other person’s situation: Most times, you are not aware of why some people are difficult. Perhaps their behavior is related to severe problems such as illness, depression, unemployment, divorce, burnout, etc. It is not a question here of justifying unpleasant behavior; it is rather a question of considering the tragic situation of certain people.
Forgive offences: It’s normal to be the victim of insults or insensitivities from time to time. However, you should forgive and keep showing love to them. It is important to note that forgiveness should not be hinged on their actions but based on love.
In conclusion, it is inevitable not to meet difficult people from time to time. Therefore, it is essential to know to love these people despite their wicked actions towards you. Also, when you decide to love them, you will not let an unpleasant person stop you from being happy, and you will become a true representative of God at all times.