August 16 – Perseverance – With irritating people

Read Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 and Hebrews 12:14-15

“Oh no, Uncle Joe is coming to dinner?” 

You know what I am talking about. Every family has one . . . a grouchy old uncle who doesn’t seem to like anyone or anything. He just makes everyone in the family on edge until he doses off in the Lazy Boy chair in the living room. Maybe in your life it isn’t an uncle.  Perhaps it is a neighbor, a child, a parent or a fellow employee. When you see them heading your way, you just know the rest of the encounter will not be good!  Your first thought is to run the other way.  However, God tells us to persevere with them! Jesus tells us to make every effort to live in peace! But surely He never had to spend some time with my Uncle Joe!  And maybe that is exactly why Uncle Joe is the way he is!  It just might be up to you to introduce Uncle Joe to Jesus and help him learn how to live in peace.

Jesus may not have had to spend time with an “Uncle Joe” but He did have to deal with irritating people including the Devil himself!  The Sadducees and Pharisees were constantly buzzing around Him like annoying gnats trying to catch Him in a lie.  Jesus stayed calm and then let the word of God lead the way and get to the heart of the problem. I know being on a road trip without my GPS or a good map can make me very irritated.  Can you imagine going through life without God’s road map to guide your way? You don’t need to only read the Bible but LIVE it.  Show God’s love, confident in His guidance and direction.

Listen more and talk less. We need to really listen to others, not just their words but the meaning behind their words.  What are they really trying to tell you? Or better yet, what AREN’T they telling you?  Do they just want to be listened to?  Are they feeling left out, ignored? Remember God gave you two ears and only one mouth.  Listen more, talk less.

Calmly listening to “Uncle Joe” might be all that is needed.  What makes him tick? What does he like to do for fun?  What was his childhood like? Sometimes they just want to be heard, included, valued. 

Persevering takes time, not just writing someone off because they are difficult to deal with.  Our verses today tell us to be patient and not respond in haste. Remember, nothing is more important than you being “Christ” to someone.  Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy because, without holiness, no one will see the Lord!

Pat Arnold

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