What kinds of people are difficult for you? Do you struggle with people who have different points of view than your perspective? Are you challenged with people who are unkind and/or self-absorbed? Do people who are less-than-moral bother you? Do you get cranky with self-righteousness folk?
All of us have pockets and gaggles of people who are rankling to us. I think that we often focus on such people, complaining about what makes them distasteful to us, but we can easily neglect to look into our souls to ask why such types of people bring out our cranky side.
When I think about this, it makes me consider Judas, the dude who betrayed Jesus. At the beginning of John 12, Judas was agitated about Mary’s extravagant expression of love for Jesus, because she spent a boatload of money on expensive perfume. Judas’ words to Jesus were cranky about Mary’s money usage, but if you keep reading in John 12, you’ll see that the bigger issue for Judas revolved around money because he would steal from the common purse for Jesus’ disciples.
Judas had his own issues and it seems that they centered around money. But when I think about his obsession with money, it makes me pause to consider what was in Judas’ soul that led him to be so fixated with money. Indeed, when it came to money, this was the Achilles heel for Judas, full stop. I say this because the consequence of Judas’ fixation with money was his decision to betray Jesus for money, even though Judas had lived with Jesus for almost three years and he was keenly aware and familiar with Jesus’ teachings and values.
I bring all of this to your attention because I think that Jesus’ words to Judas in John 12:8 are very illuminating. In this verse, Jesus says to Judas, “For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” In these words, I think that Jesus is bringing into the light the actual soul poverty that was the central motivation to provoke Judas for making money his primary goal. I would suggest that because Judas’ essential priority was grounded in money, this made him cranky and a prickly person whenever he saw an opportunity to get more money.
Regardless of Judas’ porcupine nature, rooted in his money obsession, Jesus stayed true to His divine design. Ultimately, I think that Jesus’ choices, behaviors and interactions with Judas give us a very powerful example for how to deal with difficult people – choosing to be patient, kind and firm. We can recognize the struggles that might be happening in other people’s souls, but we need to choose for ourselves to be kind and forgiving, true to the design that God hardwired into our souls.
Difficult people don’t have to hijack God’s divine blueprint for our lives!