No matter how hard we try to be loving, patient and kind to others, there are some people that just get on our nerves every now and then (or a lot of the time).
It might be because they said something we don’t agree with. It might be because they treated us or someone we love unfairly. It might be because they’re just plain rude or offensive.
How people act on the outside is a reflection of what’s on the inside
We should first remember that everyone is fighting their own battles. We only see what they display on the outside. We have absolutely no idea what’s really going on inside their minds (obviously), but if we did, maybe we wouldn’t be so quick to judge or get offended.
There could be a number of reasons why people act badly towards others:
- They don’t know God and are acting according to their world views (which, according to them, is perfectly acceptable).
- They could be hurting inside.
- They don’t like themselves and are projecting their emotions to others.
- Someone else may have mistreated them.
- They don’t know any better.
How we react to others is up to us
People will say and do whatever they want. We can’t control others, no matter how hard we try. Yes, we may get offended if someone says something we don’t like. Yes, we may get angry if someone is rude to us. But that doesn’t give us an excuse to bite back. It doesn’t give us an excuse to be rude to them. Or talk about them behind their backs. Or go out of way to hurt them or get revenge. The Bible says we need to do the exact opposite. We can retaliate or do what the Bible says and turn the other cheek; the choice is ours.
But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. — Luke 6:27–29 (NIV)
We should love one another as God loves us
The Bible clearly says that we need to love each other. No ifs or buts. Just love each other.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” — John 13:34 (NIV)
In fact, loving one another is so important that Jesus declared it the second most important commandment, second only to loving God (Matthew 22:36–40).
We should also remember that ‘we love because He first loved us’ — 1 John 4:19 (NIV). God loved us so much that He created us just the way we are, knowing exactly just how sinful we are. But He loved us anyway. He died for us anyway.
We’re all in the same boat. We’re all sinners. We all sin against God. And He loves us all anyway.
If God can love us and die for us in spite of all our imperfections and sin towards Him, who are we to not love others in the same way? Who are we to not love those who sin against us?
As Christians, we need to let God’s love shine through us. If we only love those who love us or are nice to us, how does that make us any different from the next person? We need to love others like God loves us, in spite of all their imperfections and sin towards us. We need to follow Jesus’ example and reach out to those who need the most love, not those who already love us. We need to be a shining light to those in the dark. We need to represent God through our actions and our lives.
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. — Matthew 5:43–48 (NIV)