I haven’t always appreciated every member of the churches I pastored. Early in my ministry one man berated me in front of a group of people for my deep and dull sermons. A week later a deacon said my sermons were interesting but too simple—like little Sunday school lessons.
At the time I didn’t thank God for those cantankerous people. Nor did I thank the Lord for the person who disheartened our new assistant organist by placing an anonymous note on the organ criticizing her makeup.
I have learned, though, that I can appreciate and even show love to people who irritate me.
As I read the words of the apostle Paul in his letters to the Corinthians, I find him expressing both deep hurt and powerful love. He received unjust criticism from several people in Corinth (2 Cor. 10:10), yet he continued to minister to them. He knew that difficult people, like difficult situations, teach us to rely on the Lord and to allow Him to show His power at work in our lives (12:9-10).
Over the years, the Lord has helped me to show love to those who have irritated me. Many have become my friends. Dealing with difficult people will never be easy for us, but through the Spirit’s power we can do it.
Thinking It Over
How do you respond when someone criticizes you?
Why is it so hard to respond with love and patience?
How does Matthew 5:43-48 apply to these situations?
The worst criticism against you can bring out the best in you.