Let’s free associate: name a couple of people in your life that you cringe when you think about them. How about the person you would rather not be around? They are a pain in your neck. Do you have at least one in your mind? A friend? A church member? A relative? Great!
You may want to read:
- When I Won’t Forgive Someone
- How to Bring the Gospel to a Bad Marriage
- What You Believe You Need Will Control You
Let’s Get Motivated
Now, I’m going to give you some motivation for that pain in your neck. Here it is: go and serve them. Go and give your life for them. Helping others is at the heart of the gospel (Mark 10:45). The non-serving Christian is an oxymoron.
Think about Jesus and the kind of people that surrounded Him. Jesus came for the worst kind of people (Romans 3:10-12). He sought the badest, the worst, the lowest, and the helpless. He did not look for the righteous, the best, or the noblest.
An excellent question for you to ask is which group did you belong to when Jesus found you? If God saved you, it was the “worst group” because He did not come for righteous people (Luke 5:32).
Paul understood this concept well. He said that he was the foremost sinner (1 Timothy 1:15-16). In his mind, there was not a worse sinner than him. Then God grabbed him from the “heap of the depraved” and showed mercy to him. What about you? Has the Lord regenerated you?
If you have been born a second time (John 3:7), you are the recipient of the greatest act of undeserved love ever known to anyone. Jesus died for you; He became your suffering, dying, servant (John 3:16). You, who were undeserving, received the transformative love, affection, and life of another. Jesus became a slave to the regenerated.
Back to the Gospel
Now, go back to that person with whom you struggle. Here is what I recommend in those times of frustration with them: Remind yourself that you were an enemy of God. I want you to consider the gospel (Romans 2:4). What did Christ do for you? Here is a short, non-exhaustive list:
- He pursued your wicked and undeserving soul.
- He gave up His life for you.
- He shed His blood for you.
- He forgave you of all your wickedness.
- He cleaned you up and placed you on solid rock.
- He never holds your past against you.
- He changed your evil ways and bad attitudes.
- He gave you the Spirit to go with you because you can’t make it alone.
- He gave you a promise that, though you are not worthy and utterly incapable of finishing the race, He will take you to a favorable conclusion (Philippians 1:6).
- He has given you a place in heaven and even considers you as being there now.
As a result of His work, all this, plus more, is your inheritance. You were a person who did not deserve such mercy. You were an enemy of God whom He pursued. These truths are part of what it means to think in a gospel-centered way.
Because of the gospel, you have the extraordinary privilege of going and being Jesus to others, even that pain in your neck. May the power of the gospel control and manage you as you give yourself for others.
Call to Action
Rick, are you saying that I should submit to an abusive person?
The more vital question is, why would you think that you should? What has happened to you that you take an article like this and map your horrific experience over it, to where you can’t think with clarity? If that is where you are tempted to go with this article, I appeal to you to find help.
This article is merely a take on all the “one anothers” in the New Testament. The Bible’s appeals are not harsh or unkind. God sets us free from our bondage. But if you’re not living in freedom because of what happened to you, please find someone who can help you.
The reason I’m saying these things is that, inevitably, whenever I wrote an article about serving and submitting to others, folks will misunderstand, and make the message mean something that it should not. These folks have experienced so much hurt that it’s hard for them to think with biblical clarity.
For the rest, I say, how do you need to change toward your annoying or frustrating friend? Do you need to chat about this? If so, please ask for more help on our free community forum or our private forum.Please Understand My Culture Before You Rebuke Me Manipulating Others With the Things That Have Happened to You »