The psalmist wrote: ‘You know me inside and out…you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit…Like an open book…all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day’ (vv. 14-16 MSG). It’s impossible for us to know other people, or even ourselves, to the same level that God knows us. But, it’s really important for us to try and understand others. Everyone’s different. We have different personalities, ways of reacting and coping, skills, and callings. Even people in the same family can be really different. Cain was a farmer and his brother Abel was a shepherd. Jacob and Esau were twins, yet they couldn’t have been more different. There was the Prodigal Son who left home and became a ‘party animal’, while his older brother stayed home and became self-righteous and judgemental. Whether we’re thinking about our family, our friends, our partners – we need to remember that they’re individuals who may not think and react in the same ways that we do. We can easily get frustrated when people don’t react how we expect them to, when they’re afraid of things that we’re not, and when they make decisions that we wouldn’t have made. But when we try and understand the differences between us, we become patient with each other. Ephesians 4:2 says: ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love’ (NIV). We need to make sure our love for others is stronger than our frustrations. And we need to make sure we’re working on trying to understand people, and learning to see them as God does.
Think of someone you struggle to get along with. Ask God to try and help you understand them better.