When I think of interacting with difficult people, my first instinct is to avoid them. Sometimes, when I feel especially unable to respond well, I actively shut them out even if we’re in the same room. While this may be necessary from time to time (it’s sometimes better to say nothing than to say something hurtful), it’s not a healthy long-term approach. So, what is?
“Do your part to live at peace with everyone, as much as it is possible.” (Romans 12:18)
Between the lines of this verse is the idea that I can only do my part and that living in peace with others is not fully up to me. The next natural question for me, then, is… What exactly is my part?
The four verses just before Romans 12:18 provide some answers.
- Bless others even if they’re difficult. (v. 14)
- Share with others in good and bad times. (v. 15)
- Don’t let pride get in the way. (v. 16)
- Always do what is right. (v. 17)
The three verses after Romans 12:18 give even more direction.
- Let God right any wrongs. (v. 19)
- Meet others needs, even the needs of difficult people. (v. 20)
- Doing good is a weapon. (v. 21)
God’s word is clear about how we should treat those who are difficult to treat well. These instructions help me want to please God with the way I treat difficult people.
After all, I cannot control others. My job is to do “my part.” I’ve made the decision once again to not let others decide what that part is but to instead let it be defined by God.