Do you know any annoying people?
A spouse does not count because in the “for better or for worse clause” we accepted certain irregularities.
I did a search on Google for annoying people. I got 170 million hits. The subject of annoying people seems rather common. “The twelve steps to deal with annoying people.” “20 types of annoying people you should avoid.” “4 ways to get rid of annoying people.” “The world’s most annoying people.”
My guess is there are some annoying people in your life. Anyone getting on your nerves? In a book called “People I Could Do Without,” Donald Smith says our pent-up exasperation with people can send us into one of two modes: a “reactionary rampage” or a “silent seethe.”
It’s no surprise the Bible has quite a bit to say about bearing with one another. The phrase, “bear with,” means, “to endure patiently, to put up with, to be indulgent, to suffer.” It carries the idea with it of longsuffering and being slow to be angry.
I don’t see much “bearing with” others today. We sound off, run off, or run somebody else off. Sometimes we square off and want to knock someone off, but seldom do we put up with people.
The phrase “bear with” occurs 17 times in the New Testament. Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew 17:17: “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?”
Ephesians 4:2 gives us four ways to cut others some slack: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
We must deal with always thinking we’re right and everyone else is wrong. When we’re humble, we’ll put up with people because we know we’re not all that easy to be around ourselves.
We’re to be gentle with others who behave differently than we do, recognizing how the God of grace deals gently with us.
When we’re patient with others, we can see they’re in process, just like we are. God isn’t finished with me and He’s not done with you either.
When we bear with others, we’re to do so in an attitude of love, not indifference or hatred.
Colossians 3:12-13: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. We’re to forgive as the Lord has forgiven us, even those who persecute us. Because Jesus bears with us, we can bear with one another.
We’re called to put up with different personalities, different preferences and different perspectives.
Romans 15:1, 2, 5-7 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Paul is writing to two distinct groups of people in the church at Rome: the weak and the strong. And each group grated on the other.
The “strong” saints had no problem eating meat sacrificed to idols, while others felt by eating meat, a person could become spiritually contaminated. This group followed a strict diet and felt some days were more spiritual than others. These “weaker” believers bothered the “stronger” saints who felt they could indulge in ribeyes and worship on any day they wanted.
One group hadn’t fully grasped the extent of their freedom in Christ while the other group exercised their freedom in Christ with a clear conscience but didn’t bear with other believers who disagreed.
We can easily fall into thinking the way we do things, or our perspective, is proper and right, and those who differ from us must somehow be wrong. Some of us try to control how other believers believe and behave, secretly judging them according to our own spiritual standards. In fact, most of us would categorize ourselves as “strong” as we wonder why so many people are “weaker” than we are.
We are called to give grace to those who are wired differently than we are. These differences are sometimes expressed in lifestyle choices or they may just be annoying habits. Here’s the catch. The person who rubs me the wrong way may not be sinning against me, but I can very easily sin against him or her with my attitude and actions.
In the late 1800s there were two deacons in a small Baptist church in Mayfield, Kentucky. They didn’t get along and always opposed each other in any decision the church made. On one particular Sunday, one deacon put up a small wooden peg on the back wall, for the preacher to hang his hat on. When the other deacon discovered the peg, he was outraged and left the church. The church split and a new church was formed called the “Anti-Peg Baptist Church.”
How about trying a few different things when you are dealing with annoying people.
Make a list of the people who bug you. After you finish, look through the names. Can you identify some traits or attitudes which annoy you? Ask God to help you see people from His perspective.
Pray for the list of annoying people for two weeks. Your relationship with people who irritate you will radically change if you pray for them.
As hard as I might try, very seldom can I change someone else. The problem is not other people, the problem is me. I can ask God to do something about me.
Loving feelings tend to follow loving actions. If you wait for the feeling, you may be waiting a long time. As a foster parent, sometimes the child that came into our home had so many issues it was overwhelming. Sometimes it felt like the very life in me was getting sucked out of my body. Dave and I had raised many children either formally through the foster care system or informally, they just moved in. I learned to treat each child with love, even if I didn’t feel it at first. The love came with time.
Newspaper columnist and Minster George Crane tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. “I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has hurt me.” Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan, “Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that you are getting a divorce.
That will really hurt him.” With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, “Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!” And she did it with enthusiasm. Acting “as if.” For two months, she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, respect. When she didn’t return, Crane called. “Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?” Divorce?” she exclaimed. “Never! I discovered I really do love him.” Her actions had changed her feelings.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.
Do you know any annoying people?