Have you ever felt like you get to deal with the worlds most difficult person? Maybe it's at your job, or someone else you have to see on a regular basis. You think to yourself, "If they only changed *insert anoying behavior here* about themselves, I could maybe, possibly like them." It's so easy to accept the truth that "unfortunately, we can't pick and choose everyone we have to see or spend time with", but is this really the attitude we want to have? If we really thought about it, seeing people we don't neccessarily enjoy being around is such an opportunity to grow in our love for others, and work on our own idiosyncracies that are probably anoying someone else just as much!
I know, who wants to have to deal with working on themselves? It's too much work. It's easier to just ignore the issue, or just get through the encounters with certain individuals and hope that they'll be struck by lightning in the near future. BUT- come on. Think about that one person in your life (er, or two or three people), and open yourself for one moment to this: don't miss out on the opportunity to love them. You may have this verse memorized, but dwell on this famously quoted verse for a moment:
Matthew 5:44-48- But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
More than ever, the world is screaming for Christians to actually act like Christians. I can't think of anything that would shock the world more than if we truly loved people. It is the greatest commandment, after all (Matthew 22:38), to love God and love others! It sounds so simple, but it can be the hardest thing because our tendancy is to live for ourselves while also struggling to see outside of our own perspective and worldview.
The best practical application to love someone else is summed up beautifully in this quote:
"There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him." --William Law
When I have used this approach in my own life, I have realized two things:
1. Your heart is softened towards people
2. You may find that you are more aware of your own shortcomings. When you realize that you could do something differently, or act a different way towards the people you struggle with socially, you may find that it solves many or all of the issues!
It's amazing when we take our eyes off how we think the other person should act, and change how we are acting, we make huge improvements in our relationships with everyone. It's a lot to take in, and it requires some humbling, but the results are among the most rewarding! So the next time you see *that* person, pray on this:
Proverbs 25:21 (NKJV) If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink..."
You might realize that they aren't so bad, and that in all reality, they are God's child, just like you.