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How can I be a good person when people are jerks?

I'm sorry to hear that you aren't feeling respected by the people around you. Yes, people can be jerks—and that can be super frustrating. We are called to be peace-makers (Romans 12:17-18), but it's hard to do when one or more people in our lives just don't want to play nicely. What can a Christian do in this situation?

Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do to MAKE anyone respect us to treat us in any certain way. People are responsible for their own words and actions, and there's nothing we can do to control them. However, what we CAN control is how we treat others. And Jesus gave us some really good advice for that in John 15:12, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." And then in Luke 6:31, "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."

I know it's hard to be loving toward someone who is disrespecting you, but the Bible gives us some more advice in that area too: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles" (Proverbs 24:17). Also Jesus tells us to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Nope, it's not easy, but if we believe what Jesus says is true, then this must be the best way.

Good Fruit for Bad Apples

As a Christian, we have the Holy Spirit to help guide us in how we act toward others. Everyone receives the Holy Spirit the moment he or she believes in Jesus Christ as the Savior (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14). By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can show what's called the "fruits of the Spirit", which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

When it comes to how the fruits of the Spirit are acted out in real life, then you can imagine that being kind, joyful, good, etc. will translate into caring about others' feelings, respecting their personal space, and doing (very likely) the things that you wish done unto you. We should do these things regardless of whether or not we think the person deserves it. Judging others is God's job—not ours (Matthew 7:1-5).

Sometimes our sinful natures (Galatians 5:19-21) make it difficult to produce the good fruit—especially if another person is provoking us. But the way we act toward others reflects our true nature. What we want to do is give control of our actions to the Holy Spirit because He has the good fruit that reflects HIS nature (2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13).

A Christian will never be able to perfectly and always display the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but it should be our goal to always AIM for perfection by treating others kindly, respectfully, and lovingly—basically the way we would want to be treated. And who knows? Maybe your good behavior will rub off on the jerks in your life. ;-)

"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." —Proverbs 25:21-22

TL;DR

Even though some people may not deserve it, we should always aim for treating others with the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles" (Proverbs 24:17). Also Jesus tells us to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Nope, it's not easy, but if we believe what Jesus says is true, then this must be the best way.

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org and loves to write novellas with local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, five socially awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.

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