Christian: What Do You Do When You Just Don’t Like Certain People?
If we’re honest, the title of this article is a question we have to admit we should be asking. It doesn’t really matter who you are. If you are an authentic Christian, you will still have to deal with the fact that at times in your life, there will be specific people that, for one reason or another, you simply come to dislike and you may wind up disliking them thoroughly.
We can all sit back and quote Scripture at each other. Worse, judge someone for their inability to “love” as Christ loves, but in the end, we still have to deal with our attitude, not theirs.
We all have a mental idea of what it means to “love” people, don’t we? Our version of love is far better and much more biblically accurate than the other person’s, isn’t it? That’s what we’d like to think.
I’m taking stock of my life today and I have come to the unfortunate realization that yes, there are individuals that I simply feel no kinship toward. Okay, I’ll say it. I can’t stand them for one reason or another. That’s a bit embarrassing.
I actually took the time to make a list of people I don’t like and then wrote my thoughts down about them (and me) in the form of a prayer to God about it.
I realized that when I see them (or even think about them), I become frustrated and even angry with them. Why is that? Well, it has to do with several facts really. I’ll list them for you.
- I don’t like them because I have come to realize that they are completely duplicitous. Their two-faced attitude and demeanor makes it impossible to be true to them because I never know who I am dealing with and what they might do or say behind my back.
- I don’t like them because they pretend (or at least appear) to be authentic Christians but where the rubber hits the road, they seem to be far from it.
- I don’t like them because I likely think I’m better than them, and
- I don’t like them because my focus is wrong.
We all fall. We all fall short. Even with the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides, protects, and chastens, authentic Christians will make mistakes. However, the difference is found in a person who “makes mistakes” addresses them and moves on, and the person who “lives a life of mistakes” one right after the other and never seems to be bothered by the way they live. It never gives them a reason to pause and reflect. They are only bothered when they are found out. At that point, they know that someone has begun to see beneath the exterior and they don’t like it at all.
It is troubling to me that when I bring these people up before God, try as I might, it seems that the indignation and even anger I feel toward them does not dissipate, but gets worse. The only way that I am not aware of my dislike of them and anger toward them is when I’m not thinking of them. So I ignore them, right? Unfortunately, no.
I understand that as an authentic Christian, I must choose to use my will to submit to God. By submitting, I mean that I am agreeing with Him that in my own strength, I can do absolutely nothing to improve my attitude. I must then go to the next step, which is asking Him to love people (even those whom I dislike) in and through me. Yuck, but there it is.
Often we try to do things on our own strength, don’t we, through sheer willpower. Unfortunately, while it may fool us into thinking that we’ve “got the hang of it,” and we can go it alone, there is no lasting change within us at all. It is momentary at best and dwindles away immediately.
What then is left? What if you take your bad attitude to the Lord, confess it to Him, and no change seems to occur within you? You still find yourself disliking someone. You can feel that anger, bubbling up within you. As a matter of fact, it rises quickly doesn’t it, like a flame that is fed more fuel.
It seems that by merely looking at it, it grows within us. Before long, we are thinking of ways we would like God to “teach them a lesson,” aren’t we? Oh, what wonderful Christians we are too!
So the question is how do we get beyond this circle of asinine self-indulgence so that Satan will not even gain a foothold of space within us to use us for his purposes?
I know of only one way and if you know of another, please tell me, will you?
It is a three-step process. Wanna hear it? Hear it goes…
- Recognize that you are grieving the Holy Spirit with your crappy attitude toward someone the Lord also died for
- Confess (agree with God) that what you are thinking is wrong and that you want Him to take control, and lastly,
- Praise Him for that person!
You read that right.
Can you imagine that? The only thing (that I’ve found) that will change MY attitude toward someone else is to offer praise to God for the fact that the individual – with all their faults and duplicity – is in your life at all! Did they get there by accident? Hardly. That means they are part of God’s will for you. Yuck again.
It’s fine to make a list of the people you don’t like. It’s excellent to admit to God what He already knows – that you don’t like them and don’t forget to tell Him why (you’ll get it as you go through the exercise). It is best to give gracious thanks for these people because God allowed them into your life for a reason.
Scripture says to praise God in all things because this is His will concerning you (my paraphrase; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
But what if I don’t feel like praising Him for those people? Do it anyway so that you are obedient to the Scriptures. Do you want to be obedient? Do you want to grow in faith? Do you want to please Him? Praising when we don’t feel like it is a “sacrifice of praise.”
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name,” (Hebrews 13:15).
There will always be someone in our life that we find difficult to like and easy to dislike. Our response to them should not be based on their character or what they do (even to us). It should be based on the fact that God has sent them into our life for a purpose.
I notice when I praise God for these people, the anger dissipates. I no longer think of them in situations that I believe they “deserve.” My focus is actually taken off of them and onto our Lord. You cannot grow in anger toward a person if your focus is on God.
But what happens when I start to think terrible thoughts about them again? Praise Him. You will begin to focus on Him, not the person you can’t stand.
You mean I might have to repeat that many times? Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. Each time is a new time. Praise Him.
I believe praise actually helps us let go of these things so that we are not bound to them and therefore not controlled by them. It is how we submit to God so that He can work in and through us. Praise puts our focus where it should be – on Him.
Sometimes, I can respond in frustration or mild anger before I even think about what I’m doing. If I start practicing the sacrament of praise, I’m willing to bet that it will become habit-forming and that may be the way I respond to situations in the future.
Praising God in all things is infinitely better than the alternative, isn’t it?