If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (Rom 12:18)
Here a simple formula that my friend Chip Judd gave me for understanding how to deal with others and their responses to you when challenged or when you’re just simply interacting with them. This formula affects us all without fail. You can use this at home, at work, at church, or into any social interaction.
The formula is A+B=C. (A) is the issue at hand i.e.; a disagreement with your spouse; a sudden financial problem revealed; or a disagreement with someone at a church function, etc. (B) is the problem or issue at hand filtered through a person’s thoughts. (C) is the reaction or response to problem (A). So the problem (A) is really never the whole problem. (B – the problem or issue filtered through a person’s thoughts) is usually the problem. It’s (B) that usually causes conflict in relationships.
(B) is filled with personal biases that come from years of living with and/or interacting with imperfect people! Someone may have judged you for something and treated you with contempt or a cold shoulder. Someone may have taken advantage of you in an area of life and your (B) is filled with debris from this. Your (B) could be filled with deep mistrust of authority figures; women, men, people that you get close to, pastors, government, etc. What has happened in the past that affects us with emotional and mental negatives often fill our (B). Again (B) is a current problem filtered through my conditioning from life’s events. And when A (the event) is filtered through B (personal thoughts and emotional biases created from past interaction) the outcome is C (my personal response to a problem).
That’s the reason two people deal with the exact same issue and come up with such different responses. Learning to deal with your own B (personal thoughts and emotional responses created from past life events) is the key to getting along with others.
The scriptures call this the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2). I must choose to open up and deal with my person biases (my B) that make me defensive, critical, distant, cold, indifferent, judgmental, sarcastic, etc. James tells us that the engrafted word has the power to save the soul or to renew the mind (James 1:22).
Every action, reaction, thought, motive, word, and attitude in my life must be weighed and measured against the love of God. Love is my standard for living in relationship. The more I adapt my words, thoughts, and responses to the love way, the easier I will adapt in relationships that are difficult. When I learn to love, I will be able to get along with the most trying, difficult people in my life. The more I yield to love, the easier I am to get along with.
Love cures the problems in my personal (B). The key is my willingness to open up my (B) to be examined and weighed in a balance alongside of love. I must be willing to change self-centered responses that come from past hurt and pain to love responses that come out of obedience to God and His word. The more fully I do this, the easier I enter into relationships with others.
Here is a compilation of various translations of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Use this as a gauge to deal with your (B).
Let me describe love. It is slow to lose patience; love stays in difficult relationships with kindness, and it always looks for ways to be constructive. There is no envy in love. It is not possessive and never boils over with jealousy. Love makes no parade of itself; it never boasts, nor does it puff up with pride. Love is never arrogant and never puts itself on display, because it is neither anxious to impress, nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love never gets irritated and is never resentful. Love holds no grudges, and it keeps no record of evil done to it. Love refuses to be provoked and never harbors evil thoughts. Love is not rude or grasping or overly sensitive, nor does love search for imperfections and faults in others. Love does not compile statistics of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails. Love celebrates what is real and not what is perverse or incomplete. Love never does the graceless thing. Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. Love never insists on its own rights, never irritably loses its temper, and never nurses its wrath to keep it warm. Love is not touchy. Love can stand any kind of treatment because there are no limits to its endurance, no end to its trust. Love bears up under anything; it perseveres in all circumstances. Love’s first instinct is to believe in people. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best in him, and always stand your ground in defending him. Love never regards anyone or anything as hopeless. Love keeps up hope in everything. Love’s hope never fades. Love keeps on keeping on! It trusts in God in every situation and expects God to act in all circumstances. Love goes on forever. Nothing can destroy love. Nothing can happen that can break love’s spirit. In fact, it is the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.