daily Broadcast

How to Deal with Difficult People in Your Life

From the series Love One Another

Do you have a challenging person in your life? Do you wonder - is there a Godly response to this person? Join Chip as he teaches how to deal with the difficult people in your life.

This broadcast is currently not available online. It is available to purchase on our store.

Chip Ingram App

Helping you grow closer to God

Download the Chip Ingram App

Get The App

Today’s Offer

Love One Another free mp3 download.


Message Transcript

Well, I’d like to start off a little bit differently in that I’d like to start with a survey, okay? Here’s my first question. How many people here, question number one, have a difficult person in your life? Yes. Some people call these “sandpaper people” because they rub you the wrong way. Other people call these people “EGRs” – Extra Grace Required – to deal with them.

How many people, in your honest heart of hearts, would really like for God to relocate some of these people? If they are your boss, they could get transferred. I won’t go any further than that.

How many of you aren’t quite sure if you have a difficult person or not? Honestly, you are thinking, “You know, I’m not sure.”

Let me give you, I was listening to a similar subject by a fellow named John Ortberg and he gives kind of, six characteristics of when you know you have a difficult person in your life. So, let me pass them on.

First, when they call, you get a sinking feeling and you don’t want to talk to them. Second, when you are with them, and after they leave, you feel like all the energy in your whole body just gets sucked right out of you, and you’re drained.

Third, when you’re in conversation with them, you feel artificial, awkward, and uncomfortable. And what you like best about the conversation is when it’s over. Fourth, you feel guilty about how you behave around them. You find yourself telling little white lies like, “I know I’m really here but I can’t tell them I’m not here but I really can’t come to the phone.” You find yourself seeing them and taking other corridors, you find yourself acting like you don’t see them when you do, and then you feel bad and guilty about how you treat them.

Fifth, after being with them, you eat more. This just happens, you just need something to eat. And then sometimes after you’re with them, you begin to bite your fingernails. If it’s a really bad experience, you want to bite theirs.

And the final little one is you have private, imaginary conversations because they build frustration and struggle and tension, and you can never get it quite right and so you have imaginary conversations with them because it never quite gets the way you want it to be and you have these conversations where finally you say it, and you say it really clear, you get it all out, they get it, you’re the hero, and they are sort of the goat.

But in real life, it never works out that way. Ever.

Now, if you have at least half of those symptoms, I would suggest you have a difficult person in your life. And although you long and I long, on days, for God to remove them,

here’s the thesis of the morning. I put it on the front of your teaching handout.

I’d like to suggest, from Scripture and the very lips of Christ, that sometimes the person we most want God to remove from our lives is the person we need the most. Okay? Lean back, lean back and I want you to digest that.

Sometimes, the person we most want God to remove from our lives is actually the very person we need the most.

Now, I can hear your mind spinning, saying, “Wait, wait, wait, wait a minute, Chip, are you actually saying that God has allowed this person to come into my life?” Yes, in fact, I’m going to go beyond that and say since God is good, God is sovereign, God is all knowing, I’m going to suggest that He not only allowed this difficult person in your life, but I’m going to go so far to say that in some cases, sometimes, He has actually placed them there purposefully in order to do some things in you and through you that can never happen without this difficult person.

Now, by the way, I said “sometimes.” There are some people that maybe God doesn’t want in your life. You say, “Well, why?” Why could God, I mean, you’re thinking, you got this sinking feeling, there’s a picture of someone’s face in your mind for most of you and you’re thinking of this difficult person. They make you nuts, they make you crazy, your personalities don’t mesh. In fact, I’m sure I’m the difficult person in some people’s lives.

Why in the world would God allow these sandpaper people to be in our lives? Let me give you three reasons. First, because how we treat difficult people reveals the true condition of our heart. We’ll look at that later. Second, difficult people cause us to grow in ways we couldn’t on our own. The fact of the matter is you would never grow in the way that God wants apart from some of these people in your life.

And third, and I think most importantly, the most distinguishing mark of Jesus’ followers is their love for those they would not and could not love on their own.

I went on a little vacation in the middle of last summer with my wife. Went to a real neat spot, it was an awesome time, and I thought I needed not only to be emotionally refreshed and have this great anniversary time with her but I thought, “God, I want to be spiritually refreshed. I would like You to bring a passage,” you know, I tend to like to read big chunks and then study, “God, I’d like a passage that would just really minister to me. Something I really need that You’d grab hold of me.”

And I was reading through the book of Luke at the time and I got to chapter 6 verse 27 through 36. And I read that on our vacation and I read that every day, every day for about three weeks because I couldn’t let it loose. There was something about that passage that I knew God wanted to speak to me, it was so radical.

I’d like to read it because it’s exactly what’s said here. The most distinguishing characteristic, historically, of Jesus’ followers is loving people that we either would not or could not love. Listen to the very words of Christ.

He says, “But I tell you who hear Me, love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also, if someone takes your cloak do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from who you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

“But,” listen to this, “love your enemies, and do good to them, and lend to them, without expecting to get anything back, then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” And then He ends with a little command, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

You know, as you read through the gospels, Jesus does this uncanny thing. He makes His people nuts, doesn’t He? He loves Gentiles. Jews don’t like Gentiles. He loves Samaritans. Jews hated Samaritans. He treats women with respect, He treats slaves, He loves lepers, He reaches into the life of a Roman centurion.

We read that and we’re a little bit distanced. He is purposefully moving through society – tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes – He just keeps doing what no one can understand. He loves the unlovable of His day.

And what He is teaching here, in Luke chapter 6, is that the most distinguishing mark of a genuine follower of Jesus is not how we love people that are easy to love. It’s how we love people that are hard to love. Basically, what He says is, “When you’re in the mafia, you’re in the family, they love one another! So what? Drug dealers love other drug dealers.” He’s saying, “Big deal!”

He says, “The real issue is when you love someone who is outside of your circle, and you say to yourself, “Well, I don’t have any big enemies,” well that’s good because here’s my suggestion. You know your difficult person? They are not even an enemy, they are probably not persecuting you, I hope.

But here’s the deal, an enemy is someone you don’t want to be around, right? So, I think a difficult person qualifies. Here’s the question we want to deal with today: How do you love people that are hard to love? How do you love your difficult person? What’s the Scripture say?

How do you treat the people that make you nuts? How do you treat sandpaper people? How do you treat people that you want to avoid? How does God want us, in the body, to respond to them and why?

And let me tell you the answer to that question. The little phrase in Scripture called, “Bear with one another,” it’s found only in two places in this form.

Ephesians chapter 4 verses 2 and 3, and Colossians 3:13. How are we to respond to these people? We are to “bear with” difficult people. In the context, Ephesians 4 verse 1 says, “I urge you therefore, as a prisoner of the Lord, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” He said, “I want you to live up to how God made you, new in Christ.”

And then he tells us how in verse 2, “Being completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love, make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

It’s interesting when you diagram this. When you diagram this, out of the original text, basically, the main thought is, “Walk in a manner worthy,” and then, “of your calling.” And then, literally, it’s just, “With humility, with gentleness, with patience,” and those are all modifiers of – how – this participle, “bearing with one another in love, making every effort,” another participle, “to bring about unity in relationships.”

It’s hard to have unity when people make you crazy, isn’t it? But that’s what our calling is.

In fact, let’s do a little digging, let’s find out the meaning of the word “bearing with one another,” you ready? The literal meaning of that phrase is “to hold yourself back,” I thought that was interesting. To bear with a person means “to hold yourself back.” That’s what I have to do.

The difficult people in my life, I have to hold myself back from what I really want to say. I have to hold myself back from what I’d really like to do. I have to hold myself back from those cutting remarks that, and they sometimes are so funny, I just want to say them! They just zoom right from my brain right to my tongue and it would just slice them. But I just know, other than being cruel and ungodly, it’s not the right thing to do.

The idea means “to put up with people.” It has the concept of enduring that in other people that irritates you, frustrates you, and makes you not want to be around them.

This little phrase, “bearing up,” means tolerating and looking beyond the idiosyncrasies, the personalities, the weaknesses, the mannerisms, the differences, and the styles of others that bother you. Did I get it all in? Did your difficult person get in there somewhere?

I know, some of them, it’s just their personality. I understand, I think I know how I’m wired up, and then if I get someone a lot like me, I make them nuts. Or if I get around someone who is way, way different than me, I make them more nuts. And sometimes vice versa.

See, we all have difficult people in our life. And, often, it’s not a moral issue. Sometimes it is. Sometimes, it’s just water and oil. It just doesn’t mix.

Well, what’s it look like? It’s one thing to say, “Okay, we need to endure, we need to put up with them, we need to look beyond those things, we need to be tolerant, we need to be loving,” but what does that look like?

Well, in both passages where this little word is used, there are these three modifiers. We’re to bear up, how? With humility, with gentleness, and with patience. Let’s take a look at what each one means. First, we need to bear with them in humility.

The word literally means “lowliness.” In the New Testament, it has the idea of having an accurate view of yourself. It’s not thinking too high, not thinking too low. In fact, genuine humility is not thinking of yourself at all. Philippians 2:3 and 4 it tells us, “Don’t do anything out of emptiness or vainglory or conceit but with humility of mind, treat other people as though they were as important,” but it goes on to say, not as important but “as though they were better than you, as though they have more importance.”

That difficult person, I want you to let the picture of them come to your mind. Do you know why you have to deal with them in humility? Because down deep you have this sense that they are inferior to you.

Often difficult people lack social skills, don’t they? Everyone has a feel in the group and everyone knows how it flows, and they just come into the conversation like that and you go, “Oh man.”

And so, down deep, you feel like you are here and they are here, right? If you were really honest you would say they have a personality defect. If you were really, really honest you would probably evaluate them on a sliding scale like they are just a little less intelligent than you. They have a little less savvy than you. They are probably a little less spiritual than you. And so you know what? Over time, you know how you start looking at a difficult person? You’re superior; they are inferior.

And so what you do then is your head is always tilted. You prejudge them. Whatever comes out of their mouth, whatever comes out of their mouth, you know it’s – what? “Well, what do you expect from them?”

And so we get in the habit of prejudging and we get in the habit of passing judgment on their opinions before they even open their mouth. And so, if we are going to bear with them, the first step is humility.

And I’ve translated this into a sentence that I thought would be helpful: See them and treat them as people of equal or superior value than yourself. Ooh. Now, think of your difficult person. And you’re thinking, “You’re kidding.” No. I mean, no. See them, first, and then treat them as people of equal or superior value.

See, we sometimes think that we pray these prayers and there’s going to be this spiritual transaction. All of a sudden you get patient, you get gentle, how does it work? Woo! I think I got patience coming on! You know? It doesn’t work like that!

God works these things in your heart, in your mind, and He changes you – how? By practicing the very thing you need to develop.

I’d like to suggest that God may well have purposefully put the difficult person in your life to help you grow. The first step, then – what? – is you need to bear with them, not grudgingly, how? But with humility. But it goes on.

After that it’s with gentleness. We have looked at this word before. It means “power under control.”

See, it’s the idea of instead of using your power to control, you use your power to love. That’s what Jesus did. He said, “I’m meek.” He had all power. He speaks, it comes into existence.

But instead of using His power to make people obey, Jesus was so strong that He could be meek, or gentle, and extend love because He was secure. And we tend to be harsh, if not in our words and our actions, at least in our mind, don’t we, with difficult people.
I’d like to suggest that God may well have purposefully put the difficult person in your life to help you grow. The first step, then – what? – is you need to bear with them, not grudgingly, how? But with humility. But it goes on.

After that it’s with gentleness. We have looked at this word before. It means “power under control.”

See, it’s the idea of instead of using your power to control, you use your power to love. That’s what Jesus did. He said, “I’m meek.” He had all power. He speaks, it comes into existence.

But instead of using His power to make people obey, Jesus was so strong that He could be meek, or gentle, and extend love because He was secure. And we tend to be harsh, if not in our words and our actions, at least in our mind, don’t we, with difficult people.

They are a hassle. We have this picture of a difficult person and I don’t know about you, I just want to get… It’s kind of like dandruff. I just want to get it off my shoulder! But He says, “No, not only with humility but with gentleness.”

I put a sentence together from my study to try and capture it. I think “with gentleness” means “to extend undeserved acts of kindness and acceptance that are foreign to you with this person.” That’s what it means to be gentle. Extend undeserved acts, of course they don’t deserve it, toward this person and that is foreign to you.

See, here’s the power I had in the situation. And almost every day, for nine months, I negotiated with God over this. See, it was my apartment, right? It’s my floor, right? They are my dishes and it’s my sink and it’s my daybed. So, I held the chips.

And what I knew in my heart of hearts was, “Bob, you got twenty-four hours. You are out.” And almost every day I went through the conversation of, “God, please let me say that. Please, just please, let, please. I gave him two weeks. It’s been two months. I gave him two months, it’s been four months. God, please!”

But, see, gentleness is extending an act of kindness. And, by the way, you don’t have to be emotionally excited about extending an act of kindness. The greatest acts of love, often, are loving someone when you least feel like it, not when… If you’re waiting for an ooey-gooey feeling to really love someone who is difficult, you’ll wait a long time.

And from the mouth of Jesus, He had no ooey-gooey feeling when He went to the cross. In fact, we hear Him say just the opposite. “If there’s any way not to do this, I’d like to sign up for that. Nevertheless, Father, we agreed to the game plan.”

How do you do with your difficult person? Do you bear with them in humility first? Then with gentleness? Do you use the power that you have to serve them or to get them out of your life?

Third, He goes on to say, “with patience.” It’s an interesting word, let me give it to you, it’s one of those words that when you hear it, it will bring a word picture that will help you.

In Greek it’s “macro,” like, big, and “thumos,” heat. With patience means to be macrothumos, literally, to have a long fuse in order to have a big, big, long, long time where your heat builds up to the point where you blow up. That’s what it means to be longsuffering or patient.

He says, “With these difficult people, you bear up, you tolerate, you hang in there, you look beyond.” How do you do it? You do it with humility. You’re not better than them. You do it with gentleness, use your power to serve instead of to kick them out.

And then finally you do it with patience. 1 Corinthians 13:4, we all want to be more loving. Do you think that word order is by chance? Love is macrothumos. It is, takes a long time. You know what it means? It means you put up with a lot. It means you endure a lot. It means you tolerate a lot. Who has been the most patient with us? Christ! And He says, “Model that.”

Now, by the way, does this mean that you let difficult people run your life? No. Does this mean that with this EGR person in your life, that makes you nuts and can destroy a whole group, you just say, “Oh, gosh, well, we are supposed to put up with difficult people,” and you let them run roughshod, and don’t set boundaries? Absolutely not.

It means you set appropriate boundaries. I made Bob make his bed, I made Bob do the dishes, and I made him get that engine out of my floor. Those are boundaries. And I set it lovingly, firmly, and forcefully. I wasn’t going to let Bob ruin my life. That’s not loving him. That’s nuts.

But once you set appropriate boundaries, you hang in there and you are patient with them in the same way that God is patient with you.

In a sentence, it’s refuse to allow your irritation and frustration to erupt into negative thoughts and feelings and comments to or about them. That’s what it means to be patient.

By the way, by word of application, that means you need to break the habit of gossiping about them. See, in my Bob days, when I went and got a cup of coffee with a close friend, guess what we talked about. You bet. “How’s it going, Chip?” “Well, I mean, considering. There are not many Christians as noble, committed, loving, unconditional, you know, like me. This poor guy came off the streets, he’s living with me. It’s destroying my life.” Martyr, martyr, martyr, feel sorry for me, stroke, good, mm-hm, okay.

And what about it? “Well, let me tell you about what it’s like to live with Bob so you’ll understand just how loving and caring I really am.” And so, I laced Bob, you know?
See, it’s amazing, isn’t it, how we are? We can do this because we are a little superior and they are inferior, right? We can do this because instead of being gentle we are in the position of power. Most difficult people, unless they are your boss, you can get rid of them. But, see, God says there needs to be patience.

And all these things, it’s interesting, the exact word order and the same words are going to happen in Colossians 3, and let me remind you, I’ll tell you something, the reason that this shows up in us, and let me tell you how it would show up, here’s my hypothetical.

If we could get a little mini camera on the back of your car with a wide-angle lens, and then a second lens that would look at the speedometer, alright? And then we could put it on the back of your car, and watch you cut in and out of people and honk over here and over here and slam on the brake, “Ah! Get out of here, man!” And watch you go zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom. You know why you drive that way, or some of you do? Because where you’re going is so much more important than everybody else.

Why you’re frustrated when the bank lines are this way and you get the longer line, “What in the world is going on here? I’m the most important person here! Don’t they understand that?” You don’t think that way, but that’s what you communicate.

And when you are short with clerks during the Christmas holiday, “Come on, get with the program,” you know why? Because where you’re going and what you’re doing is so important. You know why? Because you’re arrogant. That’s why. Because you’re proud. That’s why. Because you think the world and the universe centers around you. That’s why. And you’re saying, “Chip, that’s very strong. And I feel mildly offended.” You should!

Now, how do I know this? Been there, done that! Now, here’s what you need to understand, see, in Christian circles, we don’t see any problem with that. That’s just the way I am. What? Proud? Impatient? Not gentle? Call it something else: Unloving.

And so the only way you change is by practice. Knowing the truth and putting it into practice. So I have little things that I do periodically and for about a year or two I did them every day.

I’m willfully going to look at all the lines and go to the longest line and wait in it. And then do a little analysis about what’s going on in my heart and why am I so frustrated standing here?

Maybe even look at my watch, wow, two minutes and fifty-four seconds longer. My heart rate is down, I’m thinking about other people. And so I began the practice of slowing, slowing, slowing. And then it moved toward leaving ten minutes early to get to some place and relaxing. My enjoyment level has gone way up. My stress level has gone way down.

See, here God is teaching us, those difficult people have a purpose. What He wants to develop in us is this tolerance with appropriate boundaries, born out of humility, gentleness, and patience. But that’s not all.

Notice the parallel passage. Colossians 3. It’s going to teach us that there is something else that goes with it: Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is releasing these people from your internal desire to pay them back for the frustration, difficulty, and wounds they inflict upon you. The word “forgiveness,” literally, means “to loose.” All lack of forgiveness is rooted in one thing. You know what it is? Vengeance. Vengeance.

You say, “I can’t let go, I can’t forgive them because they deserve to get paid back!” And God says, “Right! So, do you want Me to treat you that way?” “No, no, oh no, just kidding about that one.” He says, “Well, Romans 12 – what? I’m just. I’ll tell you what, you take care of forgiving people and I’ll take care of justice.” See, that’s what He promises.

I had a lady after the service last night who said, “Boy, you know that forgiveness part? That really hit home.” She said, “For ten years I burned in anger because of how my mother treated me all the years growing up.” And she said, “You know, oh man, I went into therapy and I really got help. And after ten years, I made a choice that I would forgive her. I went to her and explained to her how angry I had been, I owned my side of it, and she turned to me and she said, ‘You know something? I want you to know that any problem you have had with me, ever in your childhood, was your fault because I never made a mistake ever as your mother.’” And she said it was the most liberating thing that ever happened. She says she heard that and she thought, “No wonder I have had problems. Is this a person that I want to spend the next ten years of my life churning in anger over?” She said, “For the first time, I felt sorry for her.”

You see, a lot of you will make no progress, you can get a new lease on life today, I mean, if you only apply one out of these four modifiers, you can get a whole new lease on life today by forgiving the person that makes you nuts.

Release them from the payback that they… “You don’t understand! They frustrate, they ruin every holiday! They make work crazy! They ruin relationships with other people! You don’t understand!” Okay, okay, great. Just you keep going to bed with the anger fantasies, you keep your stomach acids rolling, fine. Or you can do it God’s way.

Notice what it says here, “Therefore as God’s chosen people,” Colossians 3:12, “holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,” then notice our word order, “humility, gentleness, and patience, bear with each other and forgive,” how broad is this? “whatever grievances you may have against one another.”

The reference is here in the body of Christ. How should you forgive then? “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” How was that? Unconditional. Not because you deserved it. “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect harmony.”

Those six to nine months with Bob were some of the most difficult in my life. I was angry every day. Not some days. I was angry every day. I had to forgive Bob every day. I had to be compassionate and patient, or choose to be, every day. I had to choose gentleness over the power to kick him out every day.

I had to learn daily that humility is the beauty of holiness, and that I struggle with pride, a self-inflated ego, and my ideas of my demands, my way, my apartment, done this way because of me, me, me, me, me was the very reason that God brought Bob into my life. Bob was one of the greatest answers to prayer in my life and it took me twenty years to figure it out.

Because you know something? It was like a crash course. You know the greenhouse effect? You know, get all the environment just right and the right amount of sun and water and nutrients and plants can really grow in a greenhouse. God put me in a spiritual greenhouse. He saw a guy who was struggling with pride, control, anger, and power and He thought, “Bob! I can handle this!”

Now… before you, you’re enjoying that way too much. Before you enjoy that way too much, where is God working in your life? What are your issues? And could it be that the difficult person, coworker, ministry partner, in-law, child, parent, uncle, brother, sister, that’s your difficult person, could it be that God has placed them in your life to answer some of the very prayers you have been praying for years?

But if you don’t cooperate with that, you just have this wall. This wall. Or you could bear with them. How? With humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness.

In fact, let me tell you why it’s so important that we bear with difficult people. Let me give you four quick reasons. The first reason is that it increases my appreciation of God’s love toward me.

You know what I realized? I realized in my unholiness, in my arrogance, in my struggles, God had to show great forbearance with me! How I thought I was really trying to work this out with Bob, I realized, “Ooh, how short do you fall, Chip, of God’s standard?” Ooh.

In fact, the apostle Paul says that is his motivation. You might jot down 1 Timothy 1:15 to 17, it would be a good verse to put under your belt. It says, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom,” he says, “I am the worst. But for this very reason, I was shown mercy,” why? “so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.”

Do you hear what he’s saying? He said, “The way God has treated me, His unlimited patience, is an example for others.” Do you ever think of yourself as a difficult person before God? He has shown some patience to you, hasn’t He?

The second is it demonstrates God’s love toward them. I said there was a good ending to the story. It was a long journey. And, after nine months or so, some different things worked out and some other people moved into Bob’s life. After a period of years, Bob got married. Unbelievable. I mean, he really wanted to and it didn’t go well for a long time.

And then Bob got married. He was very technical. He had a very keen mind. But his social skills were so lacking, he turned everyone off. Well, God began to change him. And then he started using that keen mind and that technological skill, all of a sudden, he found a niche and began to use it in the body of Christ.

You know what? God redeemed Bob. God rescued a “difficult person.” God is using Bob. Bob is now secure. You know why? He is secure because some people, not so willingly, and others a lot more willingly, loved Bob where he was and didn’t push him out of the community, but instead spoke the truth in love, set appropriate boundaries, but wouldn’t give up on him.

And now Bob is a healthy, functioning person in the body of Christ because he got to taste the love of Jesus through the lives of people just like you.

The third reason it’s so important, it changes me where I need it most. I have alluded to this. God wanted to deal with Ingram’s pride, Ingram’s power, Ingram’s anger. He will use the person to change you.

And fourth, it communicates the reality and the authenticity of Christ to the world. The magnetic power of the early Church centered around this. How do those people that we know can’t even like each other, love each other? Slaves? Masters? And the slave is an elder in the church? And the master just goes to that church? What? Scythian and Greek? They hate each other’s guts! You’ve got to be kidding me! Romans and Jews? No way! Male and female? Wow.

See, when we love like this, it is the greatest apologetic. It is powerful. Therefore, it’s nonnegotiable. See, how we treat these kind of people is the hallmark, the acid test, of how genuinely Christ-like we are.

Now, flip the page as we go home because here’s what I want you to do. Very simple, I have given you a very specific game plan. And here’s the game plan. Number one, you don’t need much time on this. Identify the most difficult person in your life. They may be in your family. Maybe someone you work with. Don’t write their name down. Put a pseudonym or something, alright? “Hey, honey, I didn’t realize, what…” Oh no, okay?

Second, begin praying every day for this person for the next two weeks. Anger and honest prayer can’t coexist together. Anger and lack of forgiveness can’t coexist long. Pray for them every day. And don’t pray, “Oh, God, fix them. Oh, God, change them.” Just try, “Oh, God, bless them.” Okay?

Third, stop consciously avoiding them and start seeing them like Christ does. Now, appropriate boundaries. That doesn’t mean you open your home or you open your group and you let them run roughshod and ruin what God is doing.

But with appropriate boundaries, stop avoiding them, strategically determine to look at them the way Christ does, as holy, chosen, and dearly loved.

Fourth, serve them in some specific way this week. Jot them a note.

Instead of gossiping, tell a third party that knows them, say something good about them. They’ll hear about it. Get them something small and appropriate that would really help them, whether you feel like it or not.

What did Jesus say? Love one another. Even the hard to love. Why? Because sometimes the person I most want God to remove from my life is the very person I need the most, and the very person you need the most.