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Difficult Relationships

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We all have them. You know who I mean. The people in your life you might describe as EGR—extra grace required. Some of them may only cross your path once in a while. Some you might see on a daily basis, at work or in ministry. Others you might actually live with! What’s a Christian to do?

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The book of James contains some nuggets of wisdom that you can apply in your EGR relationships:

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“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (Jas. 1:5).

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This should be the first step. Pray for wisdom to know how to treat the “prickly” person and respond in love to any unkind remarks they might make.

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“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (Jas. 1:19).

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This is the tough one. When someone irritates me or says something hurtful, I want to retaliate with harsh words. I need to listen first rather than speak in anger.

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“Mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jas. 2:13b).

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Instead of judging someone based on their words or actions, try to see their point of view. Maybe they’re going through a tough time or are stressed or anxious. Just as God has shown you mercy, extend mercy to others.

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“The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (Jas. 3:5).

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Choose your words carefully. Like squeezing toothpaste from a tube, once something comes out of your mouth you can’t put it back in.

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“Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (Jas. 3:17).

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Check your motives. Maybe you have come across as selfish or even envious of this person. If you pray for wisdom (see No. 1), God will show you how to promote peace and be considerate, impartial, merciful and sincere.

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“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another” (Jas. 4:11)

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Don’t speak ill of the person to others. This will only start the forest fire referred to in No. 4.

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“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other… Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:16, 20).

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Pray for this person, and if you find your own words or actions have been sinful, ask them for forgiveness. Who knows? By your example, you might bring them to Christ!

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If you are dealing with a difficult relationship, read through some of these articles that Just Between Us (JBU) has compiled. We want to support you in cultivating strong, healthy relationships, so we hope you’ll find comfort and encouragement through the experiences of others.

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