Loving Difficult People

Matthew 5:46 ESV For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Luke 6:32 ESV “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
A difficult person may be one who is condescending, argumentative, belligerent, selfish, flippant, obtuse, or simply rude. Difficult people seem to know just how to “push one’s buttons” and stir up trouble. Dealing with difficult people becomes an exercise in patience, love, and grace.
I think we all have or are currently dealing with a difficult person. It can be frustrating, annoying and down right hard to be a Christian in the face of this adversity. Jesus never displayed an attitude of harsh superiority or dismissive pride; rather, He showed authority under control. So we should strive to follow His example.
Here are a few suggestions on ways to deal with a difficult person:
1) It is important to determine if you are dealing with a Christian or a lost person. If they are lost they will not understand the word of God, which is our instruction book on life. John 8:47 (GW) says The person who belongs to God understands what God says. You don’t understand because you don’t belong to God.” (We are going to assume for this post that they are Christians)
2) Sometimes, the answer is to be silent. Don’t respond. Ignore them. Their intent may be to push you over the edge to get you to behave in a way that is not appropriate. They may then use your bad behavior against you. So you may need to zip it! Proverbs 12:16 The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
3) Sometimes you need to confront the issue with them with love and grace. Matthew 18:15 ESV “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
4) Don’t argue with them. A difficult person is really not looking for a resolution to their problems. They are looking for a quarrel. Proverbs 20:3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
5) If you know in advance that you are going to have to deal with this person, ask for the Holy Spirit to intervene. John 16:13 (GW)When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into the full truth. He won’t speak on his own. He will speak what he hears and will tell you about things to come.
6) Ask questions rather than make statements. We rarely make it a point to ask other people questions. In using questions frequently, I think Jesus is modeling the behavior of a good communicator, one who cares about the other person enough to engage with them and challenge them. Even, and perhaps especially, when they are being difficult.
7) Pray for them and love them not their sin. God will be honored and our hearts will find deeper satisfaction as we seek to love people just as Christ loved us when we were his enemies. Matthew 5:44 ESV But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
8) Pray for your own heart. 2 Corinthians 13:5a Examine yourselves
Difficult people have been around forever and will continue to be here as long as the world is standing. They’re everywhere: on the road, at work, in the grocery line, at church and even in our own family. Some people are truly damaged, and that damage often spills over and touches others. It may be that their wounds will not be healed in this lifetime, which means that we have to accept the reality and the limitations of who they are.