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5 Truths About Loving Difficult People

November 25, 2019
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Do you ever have to interact with difficult people? Yeah, me too. Whether it’s challenging co-workers, family members, bosses, or friends, we all have relationships with difficult people. It’s inevitable and as Christians, we are called to love them. Does that seem impossible? If so, we’d like to share 5 truths to help you love difficult people.

Jesus’ life is filled with examples of how to love people who may seem hard to love. He dined with Zacchaeus the tax collector in his home, despite the grumbling of others in the town. He protected the adulterous woman from being stoned, pointing out everyone’s need to be saved from sin. Jesus taught the story of the Good Samaritan as an example to Jewish people at a time when Jews and Samaritans bitterly despised each other.

Jesus prioritized loving people who were difficult, rejected, or outcast. As followers of Jesus, we need to love them as well.

To be honest, sometimes loving difficult people is...well...difficult! In those moments, we must remember five truths:

Everyone is Created in the Image of God

So God created mankind in his own image,
  in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. -
Genesis 1:27

Every person we encounter -- our barista, co-worker, boss, the guy who cut us off in traffic, the woman arguing about a 10¢ coupon in the checkout line (and the frustrated cashier) -- are created in the image of God.

Each person has unique strengths, purpose, and potential that were placed in them by God Himself. He knew them in their mother’s womb. He’s numbered the hairs on their head.

If you’re a parent, at some point you’ve marveled at your child’s face, admired their gifts, and cherished their uniqueness. God has created each of us with that love and care.

When encountering a difficult person, remember they are created in the image of God. Ask God to help you see them through His eyes and with His plan and purpose for them.

Difficult People are Loved by God

Not only are we all created in God’s image, but we are loved by Him.

God knows us completely - every flaw, every sin, every fear - and loves us fully. He loves us without hesitation or condition.

In the same way, we need to love others as God loves us, without hesitation or condition. We are to love others - even difficult people, those we don’t agree with, and people who don’t seem to care.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. -Luke 6:35

As this verse says, we are to love (even our enemies!) without expecting anything in return.

This is impossible without asking God for help. Our humanness can’t love anyone as much as God. So, ask God to use you as a vessel for His love. Allow God to love others through you - not with your might, but with His love that can never run out.

Related Post: How Can I Love My Enemies?

Jesus Died for Hurting People

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. -Romans 3:23-24

At one point, we were all hurting people who were in trouble. Without God’s grace and promise of forgiveness, we are all headed for a life of pain, guilt, and death. We’re all sinful people who cannot buy our forgiveness or earn our way to heaven. It is only through Jesus’ death on the cross that we are saved!

Once we recognize our own desperation for a savior, we are able to identify with those around us who are hurting and in need of rescue. We are all in need of Jesus coming to rescue us. Everyone we meet is someone Jesus died for.

Difficult People are Overburdened

Just about everyone you encounter throughout the day feels overburdened. Our lives are busy. We are increasingly distracted by technology and media. We’re under greater stress at work, with our finances, or in our parenting. All of these factors cause our relationships to grow more disconnected.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28

Jesus came to lift our burdens and give us peace. What if, when we encounter a difficult person, we asked ourselves, “How can I help lift this person’s burden?”

By lifting their burdens, even slightly, you are showing God’s love. You’re telling them that they are seen, they’re understood, and that their burdens matter to you and to God. Imagine how that could make a difference in their day!

Challenging People are Under-Encouraged

Picture-perfect images bombard us on Instagram and Pinterest. Today’s culture is increasingly divisive, and our relationships strain under the pressure. We consistently feel we aren’t measuring up.

Most people are under-encouraged.

Imagine you’re a difficult person. You complain, argue, and disconnect from others. How often are you encouraged?

What do you think would happen if that challenging person was not only seen but appreciated. Valued. Encouraged. Think of how it could soften their demeanor, lift their spirits, and add some hope in their life.

The next time you interact with a difficult person, find a way to encourage them and see what happens!

We are All Difficult People

The bottom line is, we are all difficult people. We all sin. We all have regrets in our relationships where we’ve hurt the other person.

I hate to break it to you, but you’re a difficult person.

The good news? You are a difficult person who is created in the image of God and loved exceedingly by Him. You’re a hurting person who Jesus died for. You are a challenging person who needs your burdens lifted by Jesus and could use some encouragement from those around you.

We’re more alike than different, and we have some similar needs. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Spend some time today praying for the difficult people in your life. Ask God to help you see them through His eyes. Find ways to lift their burdens and encourage them, and watch what God can do through you.

How to Love Difficult People

Loving difficult people starts with us. We need to commit to loving our neighbors, even those who are our enemies. 

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? - Matthew 5:43-46

In this Bible verse dealing with difficult people, Jesus shares that our love will set us apart from others in the world. It’s easy to love the people that are easy to love. Everyone does that! But loving difficult people speaks volumes to those around us. We are demonstrating God’s abundant, unconditional love.

The focus isn’t necessarily how to love difficult people specifically, but rather how we can be so full of God’s love that it overflows to everyone around us. Everyone. It has more to do with the condition of our own hearts than the behavior of others.

How Do You Love the Difficult Person in Your Life?

Once you have determined in your heart to love everyone, there are some tangible ways to love people who are hard to love.

Pray for Difficult People

It is impossible to daily lift someone up in prayer and still consider them an enemy. Commit to praying for the difficult person in your life, and see how your heart changes toward them.

Find Common Ground

Sometimes we don’t know how to love a difficult person because they seem so different from us. We cannot comprehend why they think, act, or believe the way they do. It can seem like an insurmountable divide.

But, we are all created in the image of God. We all have fallen short. We all have gifts, struggles, and desires. When we really look, we are more alike than different. We can always find some common ground to build from.

Focus on Love, Not Winning

You may have a score to settle, or an ongoing disagreement to win. Maybe your conflict has gone on for years.

Loving people who are hard to love isn’t about winning. It’s about love. Each time you leave an interaction, don’t ask, “Did I win?” Instead, ask yourself, “Did they feel loved by me and loved by God?”


Loving difficult people in our own strength is, you guessed it, difficult. But when we learn how to love difficult people with God’s strength, His love will overflow without restriction to those around us.

Related Post: How to Have Grace in Your Relationships


We all have relationships with difficult people. It’s inevitable and as Christians, we are called to love them. Does that seem impossible?

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