“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” ~ Romans 15:7
I was speaking with someone last week which shared with me about some of the difficulties they were experiencing at their workplace. Most of these difficulties stemmed from some of their co-workers that made it very difficult to have an enjoyable day. As I listened, they proceeded to tell me how it seemed to be their mission and purpose to ruin their day with their sneers, comments and body language which gave off more negativity than promoting a positive environment for the good of everyone there.
I shared with this person that it doesn’t matter which work environment you choose to be involved in regarding a career, there will always be people which will do and say things that will get under your skin. Now some of these people have operated in that mode for so long, that its become second nature to them and they’re not even aware that they’re doing or saying things that irritate the heck out of you and others. But then there are those that truly are irritable people “Button Pushers” and just downright mean and obnoxious and are extremely difficult to be around. (Yes, I’m sure several have come to your mind by now)
But my friend, have you ever considered that God uses difficult people in your life as grindstones to help you grow and mature more into the image of being Christlike? Yes, I know this is a difficult pill to swallow but if we will consciously choose the way of Christ in how we respond to these difficult people, God will use them to help develop us and even reveal things in our own hearts and lives that need a little (or a lot) of work. Yet how many times do we view difficult, contentious people from this perspective? Unfortunately, rather than seeing the positive way in which they may cause us to grow, we view them as a thorn in our flesh, a necessary evil in a fallen world. In so doing, we may be rejecting the very tool that God wants to use to help us grow. You pray for patience and He puts you behind a slowpoke going 20 miles an hour in traffic. You pray for discernment and He gives you conflict situations that require you to rely on the Holy Spirit. You pray for sensitivity and He gives you a boss who fails to consider the pressures closing in around you.
In each situation, God is answering your prayers by putting a difficult person in your life. Such a person acts as His grindstone, knocking the imperfections off your character. As you choose to respond to sin not in anger or avoidance, but with grace and humility, your own capacity for righteousness increases. You look more like Jesus and you please Him all the more for doing so. And I can just imagine Him smiling down upon you saying, “Yeah, that’s my child!”
Lastly, has it ever occurred to you that these difficult people may also be carrying burdens that no one else knows about but Jesus. How about taking just a minute or two and praying for these people and asking God to give you His favor with them. James 4:2 clearly tells us that “We have not because we ask not”. Furthermore, what is it that God wants to teach you through them? Thank God for them. They are evidence that He loves you and wants to polish you on His grindstone. Then consider responding in grace. After all, you could be God’s tool in their life, put there to model the kind of response that He looks for from them.
Reflection: Who are the difficult people in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you this moment and choose to respond in a manner that glorifies Christ from this day forth. Thank Him for trusting you with the lives of these that He has allowed to cross your path.