Have you ever been irritated by someone? Recently my 7 year old son was being ‘extra-mean’ quite consistently. So one evening I went up to his bedroom and asked him what it was all about. He said that someone was irritating him a lot.
So I tried to help him deal with it Biblically and things improved a lot after that night. Here are some of the key things that can help you respond well. Incidentally, I am talking to myself here as well as I need to work on responding better to irritation!
The two key things:
Do your best to look over it
‘Love covers a multitude of sins’ 1 Peter 4:8
'Love covers all offenses' Prov 10:12
'Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other' Col 3:13
We should do our best to overlook what people do to us. So when they irritate us we need to pray that God would help us not to be irritated, and try to get over it and not make a big deal. And in fact, in the big scheme of things it probably isn't a big deal at all!
If you can't, then talk to them about it
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother." Matthew 18:15
In the Bible it does say to go talk to someone if they have sinned against you. But at the same time we can't do that for every little thing as we would get very annoying. What we need to do is to use the principle above first and try to cover over it.
If it keeps coming between us, and making our relationship with that person go sour then we may need to go and talk to them about it. But we also need to put some thought into it before doing that.
Some things might really offend them if we talked to them about it, as they are very personal - so those kind of things need a lot of prayer first. But many things are fine to use this principle with.
Having said that, we also need to do what it says here and do it privately, not in front of a room of people. And of course lovingly, and admitting our own wrong wherever we can as well.
Talking to the other person means that you can then hear their side of the story which helps you understand where they are coming from. They also then understand your side, and hopefully will try to change!
Some additional helps:
- Remember you can be irritating too! – we are all sinners and imperfect, so we may easily irritate them just as much as they irritate us!
- Try to see it from their side - there may be reasons behind what they do that we are not aware of, like they may have had very little sleep that night for instance.
- Forgive and forget, don’t keep bringing it up - part of covering sin is to forgive, which means we mustn't keep bringing it up in our minds, making us more mad at that person. If you can still recite a list of all the things they've done to irritate you then you're probably not doing too well at this! 'Love keeps no record of wrongs' 1 Cor 13
- Pray for them - ‘Pray for those who spitefully use you’ Luke 6:28
- Love them - 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you' Luke 6:27
- Do something special for them - if you have a bit of a bad relationship with someone or are feeling mad at them, this is a wonderful thing to do to turn things around. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom 12:20,21 Figure out something nice you can do for the person who is irritating you and do it! In doing so, you will often find yourself less irritated with them, and they will be a lot more inclined to act lovingly towards you.
- Think before you speak - often when we are irritated we can quickly snap back. Use the three sieves to sift your words before they come out: 'Is it kind, is it necessary, is it true?'
- Think of it as an opportunity - trials are opportunities for us to grow as Christians, to become more like Christ and bear fruit. We can practice developing patience, self control, love, gentleness and kindness just to name a few! But we have to think about what we say and do, and make an effort to do those things.
Here is a great scripture to memorise or meditate on in view of these things:
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Col 3:12-14
Linking up with Solo Deo Gloria