“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
I love how the Lord works in my life. I pray every day for Him to help me be more like Him in my actions, thoughts, and words. Being human and struggling with pride and anger, I often fail at being like Jesus. However, I have learned that reflection and repentance are vital in growing to be more like Christ. With that said, this blog post is real, relevant, and very personal to me. I write this post knowing that I don’t always get it right, and I struggle many days to be the man God has commanded me to be. Only by His grace am I worthy of His love and forgiveness. Excuses will never find their way to the Lord’s ear, which is why I have no reason for choosing to follow the ways of this world at times, and when I do, I am ashamed of my actions and words. But thanks be to the King of kings and Lord of lords for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. As Paul wrote, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).
I tend to allow anger and pride to seep into my life and plant seeds that grow into weeds that do nothing but block the goodness of God and hinder me from becoming the man God has called me to be. I have struggled with anger for the majority of my life. Throughout my twenties and thirties, pride became a significant issue for me as well. These two qualities caused dissension and animosity toward others. I would build walls, burn bridges, speak poorly of others, cause emotional and mental harm for others, and I wouldn’t care who I hurt with my words or actions. I had a darkness about me in my younger years. The day I met my wife, that darkness slowly started to fade. Today, the darkness is still there, but it is much less than it used to be.
Why all of this backstory? I want you to know that I have struggled, and still struggle, with forces not of this world. Sometimes, I fall prey to the lies and deception that sound so good, resulting in broken relationships. I also want you to be encouraged to know that any darkness can be overcome. When we submit ourselves to the authority of Christ and seek after Him, darkness can not touch us. When we succumb to the devil’s lies and deceit, we must recognize our failures and repent.
The title of this post is “Be At Peace With Everyone!” This is not easily done, nor does it come naturally. Paul wrote in Romans, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). There are two things that I want to discuss in this verse. First, “If it is possible…”. Second, “…as far as it depends on you…”. The command we are called to is to “be at peace with everyone.” This comes down to our hearts being submitted to God. We must look to Christ as our example of what it means to be at peace with everyone.
“If it is possible…” There will be times when peace may not be possible. However, this doesn’t mean we choose not to be at peace. This means that we cannot control the actions, attitudes, and words of others, but we can take control of ourselves. To think that everyone will like us throughout life is a bit ignorant. And if this is the case, I would question your commitment and relationship with God. After all, the Apostle John wrote, “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13).
“…as far as it depends on you…” It is up to each of us to be at peace with others. We are responsible for our actions and words. Just because people may not be peaceful with us doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be at peace with them. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45). To do this, we must take everything and place them at the feet of Jesus. We must trust that He is in control. The moment we try to take control, all peace is lost.
Jesus Christ is the absolute embodiment of peace. After all, Isaiah said, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Throughout Christ’s life, he lived in peace with all humanity – even the ones who wanted to kill him. He spoke in love and kindness. He lifted up the downtrodden, brought hope to the hopeless, and rest to the restless. He even dealt peacefully with slanderous people from the religious sect who sought to kill him. The only record of His anger was toward the religious for turning the temple into a den of thieves and robbers (Luke 19:45-48). These people should have known better, and Christ called them out for their unrighteousness and deceit. Even through his anger, Christ was still at peace with everyone, as far as it depended on Him.
Being at peace with everyone means learning to swallow our pride and anger. It means we take control of our own words and actions and speak only that which is “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy” (Phillipians 4:8). We must remember that our value does not come from the words and actions of others. Our worth comes from YHWH. It is only when we start to seek our value from the words and actions of others that peace fades away. Consider this, as Jesus was being persecuted, beaten, and crucified, people were hurling insults, accusations, and hate speech at him. His response was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He knew His Father, and He found his value in Him alone.
In a world full of chaos and sin, it may feel impossible to consider being at peace with everyone. We must remember that the devil will lie, cheat, and deceive us into thinking our self-righteousness is essential and correct. The truth is that humility and submission to YHWH should be first before all things. It doesn’t mean we will get it right every time, but we must reflect on our actions, thoughts, and words. If anything is missing the mark, we must repent of our ways and turn to the One who can make us holy.
Being at peace with everyone starts with taking ownership of everything we do and saying and staying humble. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself, not looking to your own interest but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-14). It is also important that we remember that our battle is not with each other but against the prince of this world who uses lies, deceit, and selfish ambition to keep us from doing the will of God, which is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. With that, let us “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ has forgiven us” (Ephesians 4:31-32).