Sep 21, 2023
Today, we continue our series on healthy relationships, and we’re talking about managing difficult relationships.
There’s a wonderful scene in the classic film to kill a Mockingbird, when the attorney Atticus Finch is confronted by the father of a girl who has accused a black man of rape. The father, enraged, walks up to Finch—played perfectly by Gregory Peck. He spits in Finch’s face as the attorneys’ children watch.
You can see the anger in Finch’s face, but he slowly and calmly maintains his composure. He simply walks past the man, who now looks pretty small and everyone’s eyes.
God has given us the power over difficult people. It’s called not letting them set the rules.
1 Peter 3:9 says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing because to this you were called, so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Not always easy, definitely, but we’re capable of it. Remember that. This life is very much about winning and losing. Determine that a difficult person in your life is not going to win by controlling you and getting under your skin. In wrestling terms, don’t let that person pin you.
Is that obnoxious person in your life really all that obnoxious, or are you a grouch, letting yourself get caught in what is really only a difference in personalities? Go home from work one evening and think about that. Make your mind up to start out the next day by being nice to that person. You’ll be surprised how that can change the equation. And that's what Colossians 4:6 is talking about when it says, “Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.”
Or maybe you’re a man frustrated with the relationship between your wife and your mother. This is always a potentially difficult situation. Maybe you think your wife should be more adaptable, but have you forgotten what God told the man in Genesis 2:24? It says, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother, and is united to his wife. And they become one flesh.” Your responsibility in that situation is to your wife, not to making sure your parents’ feelings come first in all situations.
So you see, often that difficult person you’re dealing with is you, or at the very least a different perspective will help you see where the fault really lies.
Finally, in 1 Corinthians 5, we read that Paul advises for really difficult people, a cooling off period is legitimate. For example, the person who is causing real strife in a church should not be allowed to go on like that indefinitely; bad behavior sometimes must be confronted for the good of the community. And even for the good of the offended person, this is sound advice.
So if we stick to what the Lord has already told us, and our tried and true methods for dealing with difficult people, we can get to a better place.
Father God, a person who is angry or troublemaker creates chaos for everyone. Help us analyze each of these situations as unique so that we know how to handle them from Your Word. And most especially help us make it a habit to pray for those who are difficult, so that we might see their lives changed, and brought into harmony and unity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.