Have you ever heard of “sandpaper people”? These are the ones we have trouble getting along with, the ones who rub us the wrong way – and sometimes leave scratches! I’m sure we’ve all been with sandpaper people, and we’ve no doubt been one from time to time. Some authors and speakers give advice about how to handle them, such as give them the benefit of the doubt, pray for them, listen to them, or if necessary, stay out of their way.
That’s all good advice, but I’ve found a more effective way, at least for me. It’s easy to remember and reminds me of my title – a disciple of Jesus, someone who is learning Jesus and learning to think like Jesus.
Charles Stanley said, “Every unlovable person in our life is an opportunity to let God teach us to love.” That’s what Jesus did when he met sandpaper people – he loved them. In Mark 10:21, a young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus mentioned several commandments and the man said he’d kept those all his life. And what did Jesus do? He looked at him and loved him. The rich man probably wasn’t a sandpaper guy, but he didn’t understand and at least at that time, decided not to follow.
Whether the people we meet and interact with are sandpaper people, we simply disagree with them or we just don’t understand them, we can follow Jesus’ example: look at them, see them for who they really are, and love them as Jesus would.