I used to watch a British Sitcom called Keeping Up Appearances, the lead character Hyacinth Bucket’s (it’s Bouquet) vicar was featured on several episodes. One such episode, he was practicing his sermon which was to be on Loving Thy Neighbor; then he was informed Hyacinth was at the church, he decided to do the Water into Wine sermon instead. While very funny, I think it’s easy to turn off relationships with difficult people, to shut down and withdraw from them.
I was convicted in Beth Moore’s Stepping Up study about isolating myself from difficult people. I am not talking about abusive or dangerous people, I am talking difficult people. I have withdrawn from 1 because she lied to me for years about little stuff and big stuff, 1 interrupts me all the time, I have not finished a sentence in years and the relative does not have a clue. She tries to finish the sentence or tells me not to judge when she has no idea what I am going to say. One relative suffers from alcoholism and does not admit there is a problem, she has a thing about being right all the time…so I gradually began pulling away from these people and now have little interaction with them.
I was wrong. I should have looked at them through the eyes of Jesus. Because of His grace and with His love I can have relationship with them, it may not be like the relationship I have with other family members or my closest friends, but I can love them and I most certainly can pray for them…not pray for them to change to suit me, but pray for them to be whole in Christ Jesus. I should pray before each conversation with them whether it’s over the phone or in person.
I have heard Christians say laying down one's life means a physical death, while that may be true, I believe it also means dying to self, laying down my plans, my agenda and loving people and doing things I might not want to do...being in relationship with the difficult person walking in the love of Jesus would be laying my life down for a short time.
If it was not possible, the following verses would not be found in God’s Holy Word:
Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.' "
Jesus answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.