Annoying People

Why are people the way they are? I don’t mean generally but specifically. You know the people I’m talking about—those people you and I have to put up with who have those irritating habits, those peculiar idiosyncrasies, that attitude that just drives us up the wall. Why can’t everyone be more like you and me?

I’m sure you detect here the obvious “tongue-in-cheekness” of what I’m saying. The reality is that all of us probably irritate someone at one time or another because of the way we are. But sometimes we forget this, don’t we? We may have a tendency to magnify the sins and shortcomings of others and minimize our own. If we have trouble getting along with someone, do we quickly assume it’s his or her fault? Or are we honest and mature enough to take a close look at our own habits and attitudes? Granted, sometimes it will be the other person’s fault. But getting into the habit of first looking to ourselves is beneficial and biblical. Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5). Every day I am paving the way for my own judgment. If I pick people apart, exaggerate their flaws and diminish their virtues, then things do not bode well for me before the judgment seat of Christ. Jesus teaches that my appearance before the Judge of all the earth will be every bit as unpleasant as I have made life for others. If on the other hand I am merciful in dealing with others, willing to cut them some slack, encouraging them with kindness and support and not taking to heart every offense that comes my way, then I can approach The Day comfortably and confidently in Christ because the mercy he has extended to me I am passing on to others. If I make it my aim to help folks along instead of dragging them down God will smile on me when my time comes. If we live like that we might be amazed at how much better we start getting along with that other “annoying” person. At the very least we will be keeping our own house in order.

The book of Ecclesiastes has some great advice for healthy personal relationships. Here’s a gem, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant [or anyone else for that matter] cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others” (Ecclesiastes 7:20-22). Isn’t it appropriate that the face we see when we brush our teeth is one of the first we see each new day? That’s the face under your control. That’s the attitude you can affect. That’s the mouth only you can use to heal or to hurt.

Picking on other people’s faults is like shooting fish in a barrel. Anyone can do that. But taking a close look at ourselves and changing what we need to change requires someone more special.

If after reading this article someone else came to mind that you think needs to read this—read it again.

Brad Fry

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm  Comments (1)  
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A Flat-Lined Faith

Have you ever tried to rebuild your faith? Has there ever been a time when your faith has felt worn out, barely able to draw a breath? Maybe in such a time some well-intended soul directed you to James 2 and showed you that “faith without works is dead”. So you were told or told yourself that you needed to get to work. You worked on praying more. You worked on going to church more. You worked on reading your Bible more. You worked on being a better neighbor and a better Christian. You worked and you worked and you worked, all in an effort to bring your faith back from the dead. But sooner or later you found out that working harder doesn’t work. So finally you acknowledge that not only is your faith dead, but it’s time to bury it and walk away.

There are times in our lives when the answer to our problem is not to try harder but to listen more. And not just listen to anyone and anything but listen to God in his word. The Bible says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Look again at James 2. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (v.26). Are works the life-giving elixir to a dead faith? Or are works proof that one’s faith is not dead? James says it’s the latter (v.18). Some Christians in Galatia had convinced themselves that the keys to being right with God were being better and working harder. So the apostle Paul responded, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”(Galatians 3:2–3).

If your faith feels old and worn out, stop trying to whip it into shape by working harder. It won’t work. Works are like the monitors hooked up to a patient. They indicate life and health, they don’t produce them. When there are no works it is equivalent to a patient who has flat-lined. No works show that faith has died. The CPR to a dead faith is that which produces faith in the first place. Then, as that faith revives and becomes reinvigorated, it will work.

You can’t do for yourself what only God can do for you. Open your Bible, listen to his word, and before long you’ll hear again the heartbeat of your faith.

Brad Fry

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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