There is a cultural belief that says you have to eliminate the negative people from your life. So how do we, as God’s people, think about the people that He has put into our lives—specifically the people who tend to be a bit more draining?
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. - Romans 15:1
The phrase “bear with” means to pick up and carry the weight of the weak. (Check out Mark 2:1-12)
Two reasons the strong have an obligation to bear with the weak:
- for your own growth
- for the growth of the weak
The key to strong communities is not to avoid the weak, but to embrace them.
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. - Romans 15:2
Two options for how you approach the people in your life:
- People exist to please/serve you.
- People exist for you to please/serve them.
You are either using people or loving people and what you believe here changes everything about how you go about your life.
“Eliminate negative people from your life” is rooted in the belief that the people that God has put in your life exist to serve you and if they don’t you need to get rid of them.
For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” - Romans 15:3 (Check out Psalm 69)
Jesus did not approach people asking, “What can you do for me?” but instead chose to love people when all they brought was their brokenness and their need. Jesus does not love any of us based on what we bring to the table. At some point, the reality of the nature of our relationship with Jesus soaks in and it directly impacts how we relate to and love the people in our lives. The way we love the weak and difficult people in our own lives is direct evidence of how much we understand the gospel.
We must not grow weary in loving other people, but instead, constantly set our minds on Christ. (Hebrews 12:3)
or whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. - Romans 15:4-7
Together, we have the opportunity to show our community what Christ has shown us.
Three things that are required in order for us to grow in loving people:
- Prayer. Pray for a new heart to actually see this change take place. Pray for the difficult/draining people in your life every day.
- Practice. Go out of your way to meet someone new. Set up a weekly hospitality night. Join us in one of our Serve the City Partnership events.
- Patience. You are not immediately going to see fruit, so pray for endurance.