26 June 2016
Reading: Jonah 1-4; 2 Timothy 2
24 The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. 25 They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. (2 Timothy 2:24-26 NLT)
Reading Jonah’s story and then coming across Paul’s admonition to Timothy about being patient and gentle with difficult people hits me as all one message—God really loves people! He loved the cruel, violent people of Nineveh who were threatening the very existence of Israel and Judah in Jonah’s day. He loves the difficult people who cause so much trouble in our world today.
In fact, to be more specific, God loves the difficult people who cause trouble in MY world. Whether they are ungodly and pagan people who oppose everything I believe and stand for, or they are fellow Christ-followers I come into conflict with, God’s love for them is steady and unchanging, just like his love for me.
God wants to change people’s hearts. He wants to change the hearts of difficult people so that they can believe the truth and be free from Satan’s trap. He wants to change my heart so that I can be gentle and patient with my difficult people just as he is gentle and patient with me.
And what if I’m one of someone else’s “Difficult People?” It’s pretty eye-opening to think that you or I may be one of someone else’s “Difficult People!” They need God’s help to be patient with me, and I need God’s help to become less difficult for them!
Father, I purpose to be patient and gentle with my “difficult people.” I need more heart change so I can look beyond the difficulty of difficult people and see how much you love them. Help me understand that I have the opportunity to be an instrument of your peace in each difficult situation with each difficult person. Also, I need more honest awareness to understand that I could be the challenge that someone else is facing today. This is a lot to think about. Please help me with this. I really want to get this right. Amen.