Do you ever feel this way? Surely, I’m not the only one.
But here’s the thing: when I’m being real with myself, sometimes I have to admit I’m the difficult person.
And sometimes, I’m the one who’s dealing with the difficult person(s).
Graham Cooke calls difficult people, “grace growers.” I’ve heard others refer to them as “sandpaper people” – they sand you away so you can be smooth and polished.
But sometimes? I don’t want to get any smoother, thankyouverymuch.
It’s so hard to react in grace and love when someone is persecuting you, isn’t it?
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 mistreat 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. 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 whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. – Luke 6:27-36
Which, of course, doesn’t mean we are to be doormats, either. That’s not what God is telling us to do, either.
Because sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone who in continually persecuting you is to set a boundary.
And sometimes, we just want to sit on our beds and ask God to just stop putting grace-growers in our lives already.
But guess what? He won’t. Because grace-growers are here to stay. As long as we have different people at different spots (or no spot at all) in their faith journey, we will have grace-growers. This we cannot control.
But we can control this: how we respond to the grace-growers around us.
We can choose to repay evil with evil – which is pretty much using their sin as an excuse to sin as well.
Or we can react with love – only about the most difficult thing on earth to do when someone is persecuting you, no?
However, this is continuously what Jesus modeled for us. When people were persecuting Him as He hung from the cross, what did He do?
Yes. He prayed for them.
Which is what we are commanded to do as well. (Matthew 5:44)
And it ain’t fun. And it ain’t easy. And it ain’t EVER what I WANT to do – just for the record.
But slowly . . . Ever so slowly, I find my heart begins to soften towards that person when I do. I start to see them for the broken person they are and I begin to see that maybe we aren’t so different after all.
Because I am broken, too. Which is why I need me some Jesus.
Which is why they do as well.
And the most effective way to share Jesus with someone else who needs Him?
Show. Don’t tell.
What about you? What have you learned from the grace-growers in your life?