“If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to adversity. He was beaten, stoned, and imprisoned.
In Acts we see that people tried to convince Paul to stay away from Jerusalem because the Jews were hunting him. So if there was a person who (in the flesh) could have lashed out in anger and frustration, it would have been Paul. But what does he do instead? He tells us that as much as we can impact it, live with peace towards all people. That’s a tall order! There are two things here that really stand out…
- Paul says “As much as it depends on you”. The ball is in our court. We cannot control other people, and there will be times in our lives where other people will be short with us, they may get angry with us, and they may completely offend us, yet in any of those situations our job is to control ourselves and live peaceably with them. This is not to say that we should be completely passive; we have the ability to speak for ourselves and remove ourselves from situations if they get too heated. This is to say that we should NEVER instigate the situation. If there is a disagreement at school (and it doesn’t include physical harm or unethical activity) then we should do what we need to resolve the conflict and live peaceably with those involved. If we’re frustrated with the customer service from a business, instead of unleashing the beast, we should show them love, remain calm, and do what we can to peacefully diffuse the situation. Yes, other people may be tough to deal with, but it is up to US to live peaceably with them.
- We are called to live peaceably with ALL people. Not just people at work, or people at the grocery store…ALL People. This includes our family…our friends…and the customer service agent from the Philippines who barely speaks English. SAY WHAT?! That’s right, this applies to everyone. Often we are very pleasant with acquaintances, but the gloves come off with our family members. Maybe it’s because we live in close proximity to them, maybe it’s because we know them so well that our past experiences affect the level of patience we have with them in different situations (yup…we usually give people we don’t know the benefit of the doubt, more-so than we do those close to us). What’s up with that!? If anyone needs our patience and love it’s the people that we’re closest to. So don’t count out your family, those closest to you when you strive to live peaceably with others.
So that’s all there is to it. I know, I can already tell what you’re thinking. “It sounds great, but how do we actually do that?” It definitely is not easy! So a good exercise to practice is exactly what Pastor Matt talked about a couple of weeks ago; when you’re in a situation ask yourself this simple question:
“Is my _____ (fill in the blank – attitude, response, feeling etc) a result of my Flesh or my Righteousness”
Many times simply asking this question will give you enough pause to reset your thoughts. If your answer is flesh then you definitely need to change directions. If your answer is righteousness, then you’re headed down the right path. More often than not, our answer to this question is flesh, which gives us a good opportunity to correct ourselves.
Practice that this week as you walk with others, and strive to live peaceably with everyone that you encounter!