Jeff couldn’t stand him. The guy was self-righteous, arrogant, in-your-face, and had a piercing, raspy voice that sounded like a paper cut feels. In spite of his absolute abhorrence for the prude, Jeff had to be with him. After all, Jeff was a volunteer discipleship leader at his church, and the annoying offender was in his group! Jeff felt as if he was confined to nine months of horrific torture. Yet he knew full well that the Bible commanded love…but what was that love supposed to look like? How could he love someone this annoying?
What To Do About Annoying People
More than likely, there is someone (or a lot of someones) in your life whom you find annoying. This person could be anyone from a mildly annoying coworker to a absolutely revolting relative. Your feelings for this person may range from minor annoyance to deep resentment. Whatever the case, you can probably relate. There are people who annoy you. And it gets confusing.
- You know you’re supposed to love them, but how? What does that love look like?
- How can you actually love them, if you don’t even feel the least bit of like toward them?
- Is it necessary to seek these people out and force your love on them, if both of you can’t stand each other?
- What if this person has actually legitimately offended you or sinned against you, hasn’t repented of it, and just keeps doing it?
We have plunged headlong into the vexing issue of interpersonal relationships. “Interpersonal relationships” is virtually synonymous with “conflict.” Christians are not immune to such conflict and may even be more culpable to it.
There are several Bible passages that address these issues. The big command is love (John 13:34-35; 15:12). That’s obvious enough, but what does this love actually look like and act like, particularly in the context of someone, even a Christian, who rankles you?
- Love annoying people by praying for them (Ephesians 3:14-21). It’s hard to be perpetually annoyed with someone for whom you are praying. And, by the way, this doesn’t need to be an imprecatory prayer.
- Love annoying people by serving them. Just before Jesus’ lengthiest conversation on love, He gave an object lesson at the meal. He got down, took a rag and basin of water, and started washing the grime off the smelly feet of twelve men. Jesus demonstrated love by service: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:9). Love by serving.
- Love annoying people by forgiving them (Colossians 3:13). Forgiving someone who has offended you isn’t going to cause you to burst forth in warm-and-fuzzies toward that person. Forgiveness is, however, an essential part of having a loving relationship toward other people.
- Love annoying people by putting up with them (Romans 12:12; 1 Corinthians 13:4). So maybe the term “putting up with” doesn’t sound all that biblical, but it’s another way of expressing patience and forbearance. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “be patient with them all.” All who? Idle people. Weak people. Basically, people who may annoy you. In Ephesians 4:2, patience and love go together: “with patience, bearing with another in love.” Bear it. Love them.
Love is the defining mark of a Christian. The context of the local church is where this love is showcased. Love is the true test of the genuineness of our faith. Love other people, even annoying people. You can love them, because you have been loved by Christ (John 17:23). We have received the gift of love by grace. By grace, we demonstrate that true love transcends the false boundaries of race, ethnicity, nationality, political ideology, economic class, marital status, gender, age, culture, and other things that annoy you out of your mind.
Love doesn’t necessarily mean you need to like the most annoying person in your life, but it does mean that you should pray for them, serve them, forgive them, and put up with them.