“GRR….I just found out my mother-in-law is coming for a visit! I can’t stand her. She is so rude to me. If I have to hear one more time how my husband should have married Sheila Johnson instead of me, I will scream! Why does she have to visit so much, it’s not like she wants to see me or I want to see her!”
“When God said to love one another, He couldn’t have meant Mary! Everything with her is a crisis! Oh no, I lost a paper clip, better call out the National Guard. I am so sick of her trying to draw me into her latest drama. I can’t believe I have to work with her on the church committee, she will turn it into Chernobyl before the end of the first meeting!”
Does this sound familiar to you? Please don’t tell me I am the only one who has thought such thoughts!
We have all felt like this at some point, but what is important is how we react to these thoughts.
Is it sin to be annoyed by a fellow Christian?
I wouldn’t say it is a sin. However, I will say we need to be careful that we still show love to those who always seem to being crawling under our skin so it doesn’t turn into sin.
Well, 1 John 4:19-21 has the answer for us.
“We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
In this passage, John has some practical advice for all of us. You see, John knew that we need to consciously decide to daily show love to others, especially those who grind at our nerves. John knew that we needed to love others because it is what God calls us to do.
On the flip side, if we give into our carnal nature and treat these “annoying people” the way our carnal side screams for us to do, we can’t claim to love God. Sound harsh? Blame John, not me!
So how are we supposed to show love to people that we don’t necessarily like?
How do we treat someone we just can’t get along with?
Let’s look at some advice from another amazing man of God, Paul.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. (Colossians 3:13)
“Um, Adessa, you lost me…why the sudden side trip to Forgivenesville? And while we’re at it, another article about forgiveness? Doesn’t that ever get old to you?”
While I do never tire of talking about forgiveness, this month we are going to focus on the first part of the verse---the command to “Bear With Each Other”.
The King James Version uses the word “forbearance.”
What is “forbearance”?
It’s a tolerant attitude toward another person. It’s an expansion of patience, being willing to “bear with” those whose faults or unpleasant traits are irritating or annoying.
Forbearance basically means that we tolerate people know matter how annoying they are!
Face it, everyone of us has someone pop into our heads when we read that line. Believe it or not, there are probably people out there who would have you pop into their mind! Shocking, right??
As human beings created with different personalities, we will always encounter people that, quite bluntly, get under our skin. They irk us, they annoy us, and they drive us downright crazy. However, they are also fellow believers, relatives, co-workers, or a host of other relationships that we just can’t get away from in life.
They are also God’s creations. We can either go through life angry, frustrated, and annoyed, or we can follow Paul’s example and practice forbearance, which allows us to head John’s words and love all people.
So how do we do it?
How do we stop letting coworker Lenny’s tardiness stop driving our Type A personality crazy?
How do we tolerate dear Aunt Eddy at the next family gathering when we know she will find a way to insult you and everyone else present?
How do we not let Brother Bob at church irk us when he stands up and gives a 20 minute “testimony” about how pathetic his life is?
The first thing to do is to remember that everyone has both flaws and good qualities.
We need to try to look past the things that drive us absolutely crazy and look for the good in other people. For example, there is someone in my brother’s life whose personality drives him absolutely insane. They don’t do anything wrong to him…as a matter of fact they treat him really well, but their personality is so different from his that they drive him absolutely nuts.
However, he has learned to practice forbearance with this person by realizing that this person has a lot of good qualities, and the things that annoy him are also the things that God uses inside of them to minister and serve others. This realization helped him respect them and treat them well; even though they probably won’t be getting together for coffee anytime soon.
Another way practice forbearance is to remember there are people who don’t like you either.
I know this is shocking to hear, but just like there are things you can’t stand in other people, there are things about you other people can’t stand. So you need to treat the people who annoy you the way you want the people annoy to treat you.
We also need to keep in mind that no one has arrived; God is still working in all of us.
If God is willing to put up with us as He changes us and makes us what He wants us to be, then why aren’t we willing to do the same for other people that He is working on? Perhaps the thing that irritates you is something that God loves about the other person. If so, you have to learn to tolerate it.
Maybe it is something that God doesn’t like either and He is going to change in the future. It is His job to do it, not yours, so practice forbearance until He does His work.
Remember: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!
It’s a lesson we all heard as children: if you don’t have anything good to say about someone; then just keep your mouth shut. The whole world doesn’t need to hear your thoughts and opinions about the person you dislike. All this will do is cause someone else to develop the same negative attitude towards the other person.
God’s will is unity among His children, so if you don’t have anything good to say about someone then keep your opinions to yourself.
Forbearance is a quality trait that every human being needs, saved or unsaved. In order to reach your full potential as God’s children and to properly follow John’s words to love our brothers and sisters, we need to develop and practice forbearance. This will promote unity among God’s people, and unity brings nothing but growth and success, allowing us to influence even more people with God’s love and saving grace. It’s practical advice we can use in our daily lives to make us wellrounded women of God.