Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
-- Philippians 2:3

It’s exceedingly rare that I come across a person that I simply don’t like. When I have, however, I’ve tended to REALLY dislike that person to the degree that it’s difficult for me to see his or her good qualities in the glare (in my mind) of the flaws that annoy me. Just being honest here. Don’t go harrumphing; you have your own shortcomings. God never lets me get away with it, though. In fact, He has a particularly devious, yet failsafe, method of correcting me in these cases.

When I have disliked someone, God has deliberately used that person to serve me in some way or otherwise be an instrument of special blessing in my life. You might think that He would use me to serve that person, and eventually He does, but initially it’s always the other way around. It’s far more humbling that way. You know what I mean if you’ve ever had someone you can’t stand go out of their way to do you a particularly kind, generous, thoughtful or unselfish favor. It’s like having someone wash your feet.

When God sets up such a situation, all the haughty disdain melts away into repentance for my attitude and I am freed to see that person objectively, in her entirety and not just her flaws, to embrace and not reject her. God uses this method to show me the darkness of my own heart and His forbearance toward me. Then I am inspired to serve and forbear with the one I once disdained with a new heart of God’s overarching love, even if I never quite learn to like him.

I’ve learned a few things through this correctional program, and simply from living and working with folks. None of this is rocket science, but it’s worth pointing out. One is that I’m just as annoying to some people as others are to me, so there’s no need to get self-righteous about someone else’s shortcomings. God not only puts up with me, but loves and encourages me, after all, and I should imitate Him in extending the favor. Another is that some of the people with the most extreme flaws also possess equally extreme qualities, and that I rob myself of enjoying and benefiting from the best in them if I refuse to accept the whole package. Finally, I’ve learned that grace begets grace, and the more I extend it to others, the more they extend it to me.

God knows, we could use more grace and forbearance toward each other in this polarized, accusing world in which we live. May our words and the attitude of our hearts toward one another be seasoned with that grace, even when we must confront our differences.

NOTE: So many wonderful people have been the vehicle of incredible good toward me the past few years that I’m in danger of making a lot of folks wonder if I’m talking about them in this post. You know who you are, and I’m not talking about you!


  1. This is great Betsy. Your post took me back to times when I would meet someone that I did not like. In other words, my first impression of them left a bad taste. In more than one case, those individuals ended up really being some of the closest friends I ever had. One of those young ladies asked me to be her matron of honor in her wedding and we walked together as friends during some turbulent times of our lives. Needless to say, some of the those people are many times precious gifts God has sent my way.....It was my own judgement and negativity and foolishness that would have caused me to miss out should I have not given these precious ones a chance to be a part of my life. Thank you for the wonderful reminder!!

  2. I've had this experience, too, Ange. There are several wonderful stories I'd have liked to share, but wanted to be sensitive to those people. I remember when a guy in college came up and repented to me because he said he couldn't stand me when he first met me. It was sort of a mixed blessing!