Monday, October 10, 2011

Loving the Difficult People in Your Life

Dear Friends,
   Can you imagine a world with no difficult people in it? Go on, try! The dictionary defines the word “difficult” as a person who is “hard to be pleased or satisfied, disagreeable, quarreling, contentious, unyielding, not compliant, unaccommodating, rigid, not easily managed or persuaded, troublesome.” Of course, none of us have such people in our lives!

   If you belong to a church, you may be tempted to think the compiler of this part of the English dictionary camped out in the fellowship hall! The way to cope is to start the day by looking in the mirror. What do you see? Or rather, who do you see? That’s right ─ a person that at some time in his or her life fits the above description in part or in whole. We are all difficult people. This is because we are all fallen creatures living in a fallen environment in a period of time called “life after the fall.” That’s why some of us have a hard time living with ourselves and others have a harder time living with us! We are just plain difficult.

   The good news is that we have been redeemed. This is the start of a whole new day. Once we are born of the Spirit, God gets to work changing us. Often, after coming to know Christ, people say things like, “My family has become a whole lot more bearable since I came to Christ.” Actually, it’s you who has become a whole lot more bearable, not them.

   One of our problems is that we are so little redeemed. Nietzsche, a German philosopher and antagonist of all things Christian (his writings inspired Stalin and Hitler), said, “Christians will have to look more redeemed before I will believe in their Redeemer.” Do we look so little redeemed to the world? Many times I’m afraid we do and never as much as when we fight and quarrel and fall out with other believers.

   Recently I put pen to paper on this:

So little redeemed,

So little like Him,

So little I’ve changed from what I have been,

So little like Jesus so people can see,

His power and His glory

Living in me.

So little redeemed,

So my friends cannot see,

The risen Lord Jesus,

Living in me.

Why should they listen

When I tell them of Him?

When I’m so little changed,

From what I have been.

So little redeemed,

I’m ashamed of myself,

I need transformation,

And spiritual wealth.

So, I’m going to surrender,

So people can see,

The risen Lord Jesus

Living in me!

   Coping with difficult people begins as I start with myself. Change and transformation are not doctrines we only teach others about in seminars. First they must be borne out in our own lives. If we moment by moment and day by day allow the Redeemer to finish His changing work in us, it will be amazing how many other people will start to change before our eyes!

   And even those who are still difficult will be easier to love into His likeness. Let us attend to our own sanctification, allowing the Spirit to work in us as 1 Cor. 13:4-6 challenges us to and just see what the Nietzsches of this world will say. They may even be heard to mutter to themselves in wonder, “Behold how these Christians love one another!”


Jill Briscoe


  1. An excellent word & one in season for sure. Too often we find ourselves griping and grumbling about others. The truth is, those people are really a mirror of what we refuse to see in ourselves. Oh God, forgive me. Change me into the image of Christ. Amen.

  2. Thank you Jill. I realise I can often qualify as one of those difficult people! This helps me to accept a particularly difficult Other in my life ... I try to speak only to Jesus of my frustrations here. No grumbling or looking for sympathy from others. That would spoil the gift/sacrifice for my Redeemer. Alas varying degrees of success - but by the grace of God .....