“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being..” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Everyone probably knows someone that brings joy when they walk into the room and yet we all probably know someone that causes joy when they walk out of the room. No one enjoys dealing with difficult or toxic people. Just because we don’t like it does not change our Christian responsibility to still deal with them with compassion and grace.
It is very easy to become frustrated and irritated by toxic people. The things they say often hurt. Their actions can take the joy right out of your day. You can easily fixate on how they treat you and fail to see why they treat you the way they do. We need to follow Jesus’s instructions on checking our own hearts, but we also need to look for practical ways to deal with the toxic people in our lives.
But what did Jesus do? Jesus came to this earth with a purpose, to redeem a sinfully lost world. Jesus looked at people, not as personal irritants, but as sheep without a shepherd. He looked at them and loved them. As Christians, we should look at people the same way, including the ones that add some toxicity to our lives. After all, Jesus came to save difficult people as well.
Jesus told us that we are to go to the difficult person and confront him or her in private. Before you confront, think through what you intend to say. Remember, you want to solve a problem, not escalate it. “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (Matthew 18:15). Your attitude can defuse the potentially explosive issue.
If the confrontation doesn’t eliminate your problem, you then have to ask yourself how important winning this battle is to you. Don’t let your emotions and hostilities back up. Let them go. In short, forgive the difficult person and ask God to use you to be a catalyst for change in the life of that person.
Someone once wrote to the USDA and complained that he could not find a spray that would effectively kill the dandelions in his yard. He explained that he had sprayed them, dug them, and tried everything he had heard of and still had them. The USDA agent replied, “Dear sir, if you have tried everything you have heard about to remove them and still have them, you had better learn to love them.”
That’s true not only of dandelions but of difficult people as well.
- What should my attitude be when dealing with a difficult person? Think about a time that you had to deal with a difficult person. How did you respond?
- Did you feel your response to the situation was biblical? What if anything, would you do differently?