Excerpt from John Ortberg’s The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You.
Some people tempt me out of the flow of the Spirit. They judge me, and I feel discouraged. They dislike me, and I feel rejected. They are a black hole of need and drain me. They throw roadblocks in my path and discourage me. They anger me. They scare me. They depress me. Plus I don’t like them.
The playwright George Bernard Shaw … and Winston Churchill famously found each other to be difficult. Shaw once sent two tickets to Churchill to the opening night of one of his plays, with instructions to “bring a friend — if you have one.” Churchill sent them back because he was busy opening night. He said he would come on “the second night — if there is one.”
We all have difficult people in our life, but hear this: God can use them to help you become the best version of you — maybe even more than the people you like. Jesus said,
[You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor'and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48]
Other people don’t create your spirit; they reveal your spirit
Other people don’t create your spirit; they reveal your spirit.
In fact, if God wants to grow some quality in you, he may send you a person who tempts you to behave in just the opposite way. If you need to develop love, then some unlovable people will be your greatest challenge. If you need to develop hope, maintaining it in the face of discouragers will make it strong. If you want to grow in your ability to confront, a hard-to-confront intimidator will give you serious practice. As lifting weights strengthens a muscle and cardio exercises strengthen a heart, difficult people can strengthen our ability to love.
Why does God allow difficult people in my life?
What other kind are there? …
Jesus never prayed for God to remove difficult people from his life. If he had, there would have been no people left at all.
No one mastered the art of dealing with difficult people better than Jesus did. He had lots of practice. The Romans wanted to silence him; Herod wanted to kill him; Pilate washed his hands of him; religious leaders envied him; his family thought he had lost his mind; his townspeople wanted to stone him; Judas betrayed him; soldiers beat him; the crowds shouted for his crucifixion; and his own disciples ran out on him. Yet Jesus never prayed for God to remove difficult people from his life.
If he had, there would have been no people left at all.
Where in your life is there a relationship that needs reconciliation? Maybe you have been so badly hurt by somebody who lied or cheated or betrayed you, and that hurt goes so deep, that you are thinking right now, He doesn’t deserve it! Probably not… Neither do I. Neither do you. Do it anyway.
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