Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another…as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

—Colossians 3:12–14

Is there anyone you tend to avoid because he or she is different than you? Is there any person who has caused you harm in the past or who you are having trouble forgiving? Is there any person you tend to argue with over different beliefs?

With so many types of people in the world—people with different personalities, opinions, backgrounds, and personal preferences—it’s no big secret that not everyone gets along all of the time. However, if you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider these relationships in light of Paul’s admonition to believers in Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Someone once said, “Ministry would be really easy if it weren’t for people.” But God says that ministry is people. (See John 13:34–35; Matthew 5:43–48.) Instead of thinking of these people as problems, annoying, or people to avoid, think of them instead as people whom God loves, cherishes, and adores.

There are always going to be people in your life that annoy you. There are going to be people in your life that let you down. There are going to be people in your life that don’t like you or that you don’t like. There are going to be people that you just don’t get along with. But as Christians we are called to remember that God made, shaped, and designed every person. Every person needs Christ and the love He provides. Every person has a purpose. Every person has gone through struggles and needs the hope of God’s glory—even the people that you make not particularly like.

God wants us to love every person, no matter who they are. He wants us to be humble, gentle, patient, and loving. This means that as believers in Christ we are to love and respect each person regardless of their race, color, religion, political beliefs, background, education, family, attitude, or quirks. This may seem like a tall order—and it is!—but just as God calls us to love others in this way, He promises to equip us for this kind of unconditional love. The apostle Paul wrote that we “have been taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). You can’t find a better teacher than that!

All people in your life are opportunities to grow in love. All people in your life are opportunities for patience. All people in your life are opportunities for ministry, and sharing the love of God with people is much more important than satisfying your own desires.

Today I encourage you to evaluate your own attitudes toward the people in your life, particularly those with whose names you answered the questions at the top of this post. Reach out to these people today in love.

Remember, God calls us to love our neighbors (Matt. 22:37–39), and He loves it when we show His love to others!