Warning

Not long ago I posted 5 Questions to Ask When Someone Doesn’t Like You. But what about when YOU dislike someone?

Each one of us could name someone, or many someones, who we see as difficult, negative, weak, harmful, hopeless, or “different.” You may not be able to put the reason into words, but you just don’t like them. And don’t say “I like everybody the same.” It’s just not true. Not even Jesus felt that way.

Somewhere in your family, your workplace, your church, your neighborhood, or your circle of “friends” is someone you don’t like. Perhaps even seriously dislike, or worse. Each such person may require a different response, and you want to do so in a Christlike way. So what do you do?

If there’s somebody you just can’t stand, ask these questions:

  1. Does this person desire a relationship with me? If you want to fix things more than the other person does, nothing you do is likely to make any significant difference. If two people are both invested in making a relationship work they can overcome almost any obstacle. But some people just won’t care, and most of the time you shouldn’t care very much either.
  2. Is this person dangerous? Being honest about this is important. There are some evil people in this world; if someone is truly dangerous it’s right to protect yourself and get away. On the other hand our own fears or insecurities may make us uncomfortable when the other person is simply weak, unpleasant, or different rather than dangerous.
  3. Does this person reflect something negative about me? Sometimes the people we dislike are the ones who show us up. They perform better than we do, or have more than we do. Or their negative behavior makes that same characteristic look bad in us; we dislike them because we dislike those same characteristics in ourselves.
  4. How does God see this person? Yes, each person is God’s child. But this is a deeper question. To the best of your ability, try to view them as God sees them. Are they responding to trauma or circumstances beyond their control? Do they simply have a different view of the world than you do? Is there something you need to learn from them?
  5. Can I reasonably expect to change the situation by my efforts? All healthy relationships require both parties to give and receive. If you change the way you treat them, will they respond differently? If you give more, will they respond in kind? If yes, then by all means invest all you can in making things work. If no, then save your energy and resources.

Paul said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18) That implies that you are responsible for your side of any relationship. But it also implies that there are some relationships that won’t work no matter how hard you try. There are some occasions where God may ask you to give of yourself when there is no hope of response from the other person. But be very careful before you assume that God is asking you to be a martyr.

  • If someone desires a relationship with you and is invested in making things work between you, stretch yourself. Move beyond your own discomfort, look at the world through their eyes, and find a way. Don’t let your feelings block what may be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. (Philippians 2:3)
  • If someone is dangerous or evil, your dislike may be an important warning. If possible stay away from contact with that person. (That’s possible more often than most people realize.) If it’s not possible to stay away, pray for God’s protection and wisdom, remain alert, and go about your business anyway. (Nehemiah 6:3)
  • If you dislike someone because they make you feel inadequate or remind you of your own negative behavior, stop blaming them. Take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions, and focus on learning better ways of behaving or becoming better at what God has given you to do. (Hebrews 10:24)

Is there someone whom you dislike? You can only change you. Do what is within your power to do, and let the rest go.

Now get on with the job God has given you to do.

Your Turn: Is there someone whom you seriously dislike? What action do you plan to take as a result? Leave a comment below.

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