Admittedly, there were moments when the Israelites’ constant complaints drove Moses to the brink of despair (Exodus 5:22; Numbers 11.14–15″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Numbers 11:14–15), yet by God’s grace he persevered. And even at the very end of his life, he was still lovingly leading the disobedient Israelites.
Keep on Loving
Moses remained steadfast to his last days and made sure God had another leader in place to take over. He didn’t want his wandering sheep to be without a shepherd (Numbers 27.16–17″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Numbers 27:16–17). Moses never stopped loving them, even at their worst.
By God’s grace, we too can keep loving the difficult people God has placed in our lives. The easy thing is to cut the troublesome person out of your life when possible, or just avoid them at best.
But I suggest we are more like our patient and loving Savior when we bear with each other and seek to show mercy and kindness, no matter how we are treated.
Here are six practical ways, among many others, to show love to a difficult person God has placed in your path.
1. Pray for your own heart.
Ask God to soften your heart toward this person, to put off anger and irritability, to put on meekness and kindness, to understand this person’s struggles and meet them with compassion (Colossians 3.12–14″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Colossians 3:12–14).
2. Pray for them.
Ask God to be at work in their hearts, drawing unbelievers to himself and sanctifying believers to become more like Jesus (Philippians 1.9–11″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Philippians 1:9–11).
3. Move toward them, not away from them.
Although our tendency is to want to steer clear of people with whom we have strained relationships, they are exactly the people we need to be intentionally moving toward. Find ways to engage them in conversation, meet them for coffee, send them a text.
4. Find specific ways to bless and encourage them.
Write them a note of appreciation. Buy them a book that has been an encouragement to you. Tell them you are praying for them.
5. Give them grace, just as God extends grace to you.
Remember God’s lavish grace poured out for your own daily sins. Ask God to help you bear with them, forgiving them as he has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13).
6. Realize that you too could be the difficult person in someone else’s life!
You might not even realize that you are a thorn in the flesh for someone close to you. Don’t be oblivious to your own shortcomings and sins.
So when that child has you on the brink of tears, or you’ve just received a harsh and critical email about your ministry, or you’re confronted with that extended family member who drives you up the wall, ask God for grace not to run away, but to keep engaging in love that hard-to-love person.
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.