Dealing with annoying people is an inevitable part of life that all Christians will encounter. Even though it can be extremely frustrating, God calls believers to respond in love, patience and forgiveness – not anger or resentment. The Bible provides clear principles on how Christians should handle these challenging relationships in a Christ-like manner.
Be Slow to Anger
Human nature instinctively wants to retaliate when someone irritates or provokes us. However, the Bible advises against reacting in anger. Proverbs 14:29 states, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” Losing your temper or being rude back will only escalate the conflict. As Christians, we are called to exhibit self-control and patience with the many annoyances of life (Galatians 5:22-23).
James 1:19-20 also warns, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Anger arises from a selfish heart and often leads us to sin in how we respond. Yielding to the Spirit’s patience and waiting before reacting allows our anger to fade and enables us to respond righteously.
Be Kind In Return
Although our natural reaction may be to snap back or reciprocate rudeness, the Bible advises us to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). 1 Thessalonians 5:15 says “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” We are called to break the cycle of malice by responding in love.
Jesus taught that refusing to retaliate diffuses tense situations. As Matthew 5:39 says, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Rather than escalating matters, a gentle reply can end the provocation and communicate Christ’s grace.
Holding on to irritation over someone’s annoying behavior can breed unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts. Ephesians 4:31-32 commands us to “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Forgiveness should be our reflex as believers, just as God has forgiven our sins through Christ.
Continuing conflict pulls our focus toward others’ faults rather than reflecting God’s grace. As Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Choosing to forgive others demonstrates Christ’s love and the Spirit’s work in our lives.
Pride is often at the root of relational conflicts. We get offended when others don’t give us what we feel we deserve – respect, consideration, deference, etc. However, Philippians 2:3-4 reminds us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Adopting a humble attitude shifts our focus from ourselves to others’ needs.
Rather than insisting on your own way or taking offense, Colossians 3:12 instructs to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Humility values others above ourselves and enables us to overlook annoyances while extending grace.
Trust God’s Sovereignty
At times, difficult relationships cannot be easily resolved no matter how graciously we respond. Yet we can rest in the knowledge that God is sovereign over every circumstance. As Romans 8:28 promises, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The Spirit uses all of life’s frustrations to conform us to Christ’s image and accomplish His purposes.
Rather than taking matters into our own hands, we can cast our anxiety on the Lord, trusting that He is in control. As 1 Peter 5:7 encourages, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” God knows our hurts and will redeem what others intend for evil for our growth and blessing.
Pray for Your Enemies
Though counterintuitive, Jesus commands His followers to pray for those who wrong them. As Luke 6:27-28 instructs, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” While our natural response may be to avoid difficult people, prayer shifts our heart toward compassion.
Bringing people before God often softens our attitudes and inclines us to see them through His redemptive lens. We may even have opportunities to extend His grace. As Romans 12:20 advises, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” Praying for reconciliation and an open door for the Gospel allows God to work in the circumstance.
Entrust Judgment to God
Rather than demanding what we consider “fair” treatment from others, Christians are called to allow the Lord to dispense justice. Romans 12:19 cautions, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves… for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” Taking matters into our own hands usurps God’s rightful authority as Judge.
The knowledge that God’s justice will prevail allows us to let go of bitterness toward those who have wronged us. As Proverbs 20:22 promises, “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’, wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” Entrusting judgment to God frees us to extend grace while trusting Him to handle final dispensation justly.
Be Always Ready to Do Good
Despite the challenges certain relationships bring, Christians should be prepared to extend good will whenever possible. Titus 3:1-2 exhorts, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
Rather than allowing others’ difficult behavior to determine our response, we can ask God to help us be proactive in searching for ways to communicate grace. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” Romans 12:14 guides. Being ready to do good overcomes evil with Christ-like love.
Be Patient as God Works
Seeing meaningful change in a difficult relationship often requires extended patience as God gradually works in both individuals’ hearts. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient and kind.” Abiding in Christ enables supernatural patience beyond our natural temperaments, as we remember how patient God has been with us.
We can trust that as we walk faithfully with the Spirit, He will produce His fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” in us (Galatians 5:22). Our role is to stay connected to God’s grace through prayer, Scripture meditation and worship, allowing Him to renew our perspectives.
Put on Christ-like Virtues
Scripture repeatedly encourages us to cultivate Christ-like character and treat others as He would. As Colossians 3:12-14 exhorts, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and…forgiving each other… And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” These virtues both reflect and proclaim the Gospel.
We also have the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to exhibit supernatural love. As 1 Peter 4:8 reminds, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” When we make loving others our aim, it minimizes petty annoyances and provides a powerful witness for Christ.
Avoid Gossip or Slander
Venting frustration over difficult people through gossip, complaint or slander only breeds more dissension. Proverbs 16:28 warns that “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” God desires unity among His people.
Peacemaking should be our goal as believers. “Let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” Romans 14:19 guides. Speaking negatively about others contradicts Jesus’ command to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31). Our speech should aim to build others up, not tear them down (Ephesians 4:29).
Limit Time with Problem People
Occasionally, certain relationships prove excessively toxic or even abusive no matter how graciously we respond. In these situations, limiting contact can be appropriate for self-protection and avoiding ensnarement in sinful patterns. As Proverbs 22:3 advises, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” We are not called to endure abuse.
Setting healthy relational boundaries honors both parties. As Romans 12:18 counsels, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” If efforts to reconcile fail, limiting time together minimizes conflict while still conveying care and prayers for the person’s welfare from a distance.
Remember We All Need Grace
Thinking we deserve better treatment than others fails to recognize our own sinfulness and need for grace. James 2:8-9 reminds us that love requires impartiality: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” We all stand on equal ground as sinners before God.
In humility, we should consider others as precious in God’s sight despite their flaws, just as He sees us. “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” Ephesians 4:2 directs. As recipients of God’s mercy, we are called to extend mercy and patience to others.
Keep Your Eyes on Christ
When others’ difficult behavior tempts us to anger or resentment, we must keep our focus on Jesus’ example. 1 Peter 2:21-23 describes how He responded to injustice: “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps…When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” Keeping our eyes fixed on Christ gives us power to follow Him.
God also promises to supply strength to those who seek Him. Isaiah 40:31 assures, “…those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Abiding in Christ enables us to overcome evil with His goodness.
Ask God to Change Your Heart
When someone’s behavior persistently irks us, the Holy Spirit wants to reveal and transform areas of sin or immaturity in our own hearts. Rather than nitpicking others’ faults, we should ask God to show us where we need to grow in grace. As Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” We need His spiritual insight.
God promises that if we come near to Him, “he will draw near to you” in return (James 4:8). As we humbly seek the Lord, He will refine our perspectives, fill us with His love and empower us to follow Jesus’ example in relationships. We can become living displays of His grace.
Resolve to Imitate Christ
No matter how difficult the relationship, we choose whether to repay evil with evil or overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 promises that “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Our Christ-like response can bring conviction and transformation.
By relying on the Spirit’s power, we can let go of anger and display Jesus’ mercy. As Ephesians 5:1-2 exhorts, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” When we resolve to honor Christ, He infuses every trying circumstance with purpose and grace.