By Rick Warren at http://www.pastorrick.com, April 2017.
We all have people in our lives that drive us nuts. I call them EGRs, which stands for Extra Grace Required. But have you ever thought that God puts them in your life to be heavenly sandpaper. They may irritate us, but God uses them to take off our rough edges and shape our character.
Some EGRs are minor irritations. They may drive too slow in the fast lane. Some of them may be more challenging. They sit in the backseat and tell you how to drive.
Other EGRs may be just plain mean. They never say “thank you.” They can be rude and negative, demanding, demeaning, and disapproving. You just cannot make them happy, no matter how hard you try. Whatever you do, it’s not good enough.
So what do you do with people like that? How can you show them mercy when you’d rather show them the door? Here are six steps to demonstrating mercy to the EGRs in your life.
#1) First, look behind their behavior. When you’re dealing with people who are offensive and irritating, you need to look past their behavior to their pain. When people are hurting others, it’s because they’re hurting on the inside. Hurt people hurt people. They’re full of fear and insecurity. They may have a painful past, or be dealing with some pressure that you don’t know about.
You need to ask yourself why they are acting the way they are. Why are they being short with you? Did they have a fight with their husband or wife today? Is everything okay with their kids? Are they in financial trouble? Is something going on with their health? What’s the thorn in their foot that’s causing them to be mean to everybody else around them? You look past the behavior and look at the pain and try to understand.
The Bible says, “When a fool is annoyed, he quickly lets it be known. Smart people will ignore an insult” (Proverbs 12:16 GNT). Why do wise people ignore an insult? Because they look behind the behavior to the pain. When you understand a person’s pain, it helps you respond with patience.
#2) Second, refuse to be offended. Your emotional and spiritual maturity is largely measured by how you treat people who mistreat you. Do you try to get even when somebody does you wrong? If they hit you, do you hit back? If they insult you, do you insult back? If you do, then you are no better than they are.
The Bible says, “Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief” (Proverbs 21:23 MSG). When it comes to personal relationships, God says, “Don’t be so easily offended. Learn to get over it.”
You need to pray, “God, give me a tender heart and a tough hide.” Most of us are just the opposite. We’re thin-skinned and tough-hearted. When somebody looks cross-eyed at you on the freeway, somebody cuts you off, or somebody is rude to you, don’t let it bother you. Don’t get upset about it. You need to get thicker skin.
The Bible says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11 NIV). Wisdom gives you patience to overlook an offense.
#3) Next, be willing to cut people some slack. Everybody has bad days. My wife Kay knows that I have two touchy times every week. I’m touchy on Saturday afternoon because I’m focused on the message I am about to preach. And the other time I’m touchy is Monday morning, because I’m drained from preaching all weekend and talking to people between services. So Kay makes allowances for that. She cuts me some slack.
That’s a key part of how you deal with EGRs (people with Extra Grace Required). I’ve mentioned that in dealing with EGRs we need to look behind the behavior and refuse to be offended. But we also must cut them some slack.
The Bible says, “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (Ephesians 4:2b TLB). Not everyone who bugs you or hurts you realizes what they’re doing. Oftentimes they’re responding to their own hidden pain, and they don’t even know that they’re hurting all these people around them.
When I have a hard time overlooking an offense, I remember the great gift of God’s forgiveness. I remember Colossians 3:13: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT, second edition). (continued…)