A biblical response to irritating people

Posted on September 15, 2014 · Posted in Communication, Wisdom

Do you know people that irritate you? Do you have some friends or family members that you find annoying? No, these are not trick questions, just honest ones. The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible to help you deal with irritating, annoying people. And, as always, God’s answers are not our answers. 

The church in Philippi was having some people problems. So, Paul wrote a letter to address their concerns. There is much for us to consider in Philippians about relationships. But, I just want to focus on one point today.

God wants you to consider the irritating, annoying people in your life as being more significant, more important than you are.  Now, obeying God’s command to do this will not, necessarily, make these individuals less irritating. I can hear someone saying, “Oh great! I obey God, but I am still stuck with the irritation.” 

Let me put this in context. Let’s say the president of the company you work for is an irritating individual. In addition let’s say that one of the maintenance crew is also irritating. Is there a difference in the way you respond to these individuals?You might well be grumpy towards the maintenance worker, but would you also be grumpy towards the company president? The response is no, I wouldn’t be grumpy with company president. Why?  “Well, isn’t obvious, he is the one who hires and fires. He may be irritating, but he is more significant.”

Now you understand the strength of Paul’s argument, “Consider others more significant than yourselves.” You wouldn’t fuss at the company president, but at the maintenance worker, why not!

You see, when you interact with other people and they are bothersome, you forget that you are a sinner. If you focus just on the irritations of others, you forget how irritating you might be to them.  

Trust God and see what happens when you begin to treat that irritating, annoying person in your life as being more significant than yourself. They may or may not change, but your love for God definitely will!

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus… Philippians 2:3-5a

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.