By Rick Warren
“A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.”
Proverbs 16:21 (GNT)
Have you noticed how many difficult people there are in the world? Some days, do you feel like you have to deal with most of them?
We all have our own mental lists of rude things other people do that bug us. Here’s my list: People who call me and then say, “Who is this?” People who honk their horns in traffic jams. People who cheat in the 10-items-or-less grocery line. People who steal your parking spot.
The list goes on, and I’m sure you can relate. So how should we respond in love to difficult people?
Proverbs 16:21 says, “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is” (GNT).
The more pleasant you are, the more persuasive you are. And you’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive. Nagging doesn’t work.
The way you say something determines the way it’s received. If you say something offensively, it’s going to be received defensively. That’s why love considers your words. Love is truthful, but it is also tactful.
The Bible says it like this: “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ” (Ephesians 4:31-32 CEV).
Tact and tone always go together. The way you say something, not just what you say, matters. You can say something very difficult for someone to hear, but if you say it in the right tone—a loving tone—it will be received much better.
A loving response to a difficult person requires you to be pleasant and tactful.
Think of it like this: If you want to be below a difficult person, attack him. If you want to be even with him, get even with him. But if you want to respond the way Jesus would, show that person love with the words you say and the way you say them.