Speaking the Truth in Love

When My Buttons Are Pushed

Is someone pushing your buttons? Perhaps a relative, coworker, neighbor, or church member always seems to know just how to say the wrong thing and spike your blood pressure. How is a Christian to cope with such a person? The apostle Paul says: “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18). While “if possible” hints that improving or mending a relationship is sometimes impossible, “so far as it depends upon you” implies that my attitudes and actions may produce a measure of peace. But how? What steps can I take?

I Can Analyze My Situation. Why does this person rub me the wrong way? Maybe he has a quick temper. Solomon points out that “a hot-tempered man stirs up strife” (Prov. 15:18). Perhaps the difficult person is selfish, pessimistic, envious, sarcastic, or rude. Identifying the reason why the offender antagonizes me is the first step toward an improved relationship.

I Can Eliminate Any Conduct Making Matters Worse. Am I guilty of repaying evil with evil? If the offender is quick-tempered, am I snappish in return? Do I repay arrogance with contempt, gossip with slander, or pessimism with a frown? “Never avenge yourselves,” the Bible says, “but leave it to the wrath of God” (Rom. 12:19).

I Can Actively Seek Reconciliation. To reconcile is to reestablish a close relationship. This is by far the most difficult part. Reconciliation requires strength. The offender will not respect me if I let him run over me. Reconciliation also requires humility. An arrogant person finds it impossible to apologize or forgive. Finally, reconciliation requires selfless love. Selflessness is demonstrated in fervent prayer for the offender’s repentance and in healing words when friendship is restored. Seeking reconciliation with offenders is much easier if I remember that Jesus has sacrificed himself to reconcile with me.

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