I’m always amazed how some couples have no problem fighting in public. Once I stood in the popcorn line at the movies and the couple in front of me were arguing. In this case, the man was way out of line.
I wanted to take his popcorn, soft drink, and hot cheesy nachos and dump them down his pants.
Some people are, well, just flat unlovable. On good days we call them “jerks.” On bad days we’re tempted to cross the line and be jerks right back at them.
It’s for those days the Scriptures urge us:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. . . . If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. —Romans 12:17–19
Sometimes this command seems impossible with jerks. And honestly?
Only with God’s help can you deal with the jerks in your life.
It Begins with Attitude
Remember when Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a heavyweight fight? Holyfield later said:
Attitude is what causes us to fail. If you can control your emotions, you can control a lot of things. —Evander Holyfield
Attitude. What attitude should you adopt when someone is a complete jerk?
- When your boss is unfair?
- When your spouse is insensitive?
- When your server provides dawdling service?
- When the guy on the highway cuts you off?
- When someone mocks your faith?
Some people, it seems, refuse to be peaceful. That’s why Paul qualified his command: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Notice that while you can’t control their actions, you CAN control yours: “as far as it depends on you.” Your input into the exchange should be peaceable, regardless of theirs.
We may never change the jerks in our lives. But neither do they have to change us. (Tweet that.)
Responding Versus Reacting
Let’s turn the tables for a moment.
When YOU are a jerk to your spouse or to a close friend, they have two possible reactions:
- If he or she snaps back and reacts in retaliation, you feel justified in your rudeness. After all, they (now) “deserve” it.
- But if he or she responds with control, kindness, and gentleness, then God has “room” to convict your conscience.
Turn the tables back around and apply this personally.
- Think about the last time you reacted like a jerk. What could you have done differently?
- Before the next “episode” occurs with the habitual jerks in your life, choose ahead of time how you will respond with kindness.
Am I not destroying my enemies by making them my friends? —Abraham Lincoln
Consider One Final Example
The attitude God had toward us was to woo us to His side through grace (Romans 5:8). He still does, in fact:
Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? —Romans 2:4
It was goodness that overcame evil for our souls. Such can do the same in our relationships, God willing.
In the end, we may never change the jerks in our lives. But neither do they have to change us.
Question: What helps you respond well to jerks? You can leave a comment by clicking here.