How do you hug a porcupine?

One of the sweetest most tender gifts God has blessed His people with is relationships in the Body. God could have chosen for us to follow Him solo without the support and help of others. However, God determined in His infinite wisdom to surround each of us with relationships in the Church. These relationships help us in a variety of ways.
 
First, relationships in the Church remind us that we are all imperfect and in need of the same thing-the blood of Jesus to cleanse us (Romans 3:23). Second, spiritual relationships empower us as we spur one another on to good works (Hebrews 10:25), Third, fellowship with each other empowers us in our own walk with Christ (1 John 1:7).
 
Having accepted the value of relationships in the church, we still must acknowledge an obvious truth. The truth is that though as Christians we love one another, sometimes we don’t always see eye to eye. At times we have genuine disagreements, at other times we have personality conflicts. In either case there develops a strain in these relationships. Sometimes we encounter a person who is hard to love. They are like a porcupine-very difficult to love. So, how do you hug a porcupine? The answer is…very carefully!
 
The good news is that God gives us instructions to how to love someone who is hard to love.
 
• Accept the current condition of their soul and remember that we are all made in God’s image for His purposes (Genesis 1:27). • Recognize that God isn’t done with us yet. We are all His workmanship and are constantly in a state of growth (Ephesians 2:10). • Forgive relationship missteps and offenses just as Christ forgives us all of our shortcomings (Luke 17:3). • Overlook the spiritual immaturity we observe in others, and instead, lead by example, not merely in words (1 Cor. 8:13). • Embrace wounded souls who are difficult to love and love them as God does (1 John 4:7-8).
 
Without a doubt, one of the most powerful tools Satan has at His disposal is division. If he can divide God’s family from each other, then He wins. If the church can be so dedicated to unity, to shared purposes, and to a common goal of Heaven, nothing can divide us.
 
So, when you encounter a brother or sister in Christ who is difficult to love, take heart. God’s greater plan of unity can erase the past and provide a new path to healthy relationships. Get out there and love the unlovable! You may have to hug that porcupine very carefully at first, but in the end, God can bring unity of spirit.