Be At Peace With All Men

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."  Romans 12:18 NASB

Image Courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young /

Some days, this verse of the Bible is one I would love to forget exists. It's hard!  Tithing is tough, but if you set it up to come out of your bank account automatically, it's easy.  Almost painless.  Volunteering at church can be easy as well.  If you like to cook, help in the kitchen. If you like to sing, join the choir or praise band.  If you like kids, help in the children's ministry.  It's easy.

But when that one person just drives you crazy, you just don't want to be nice.  You don't want to get along.  At best, you want to ignore their existence.  At worst?  Well, we won't go there.  I'm sure you have a pretty good idea of what the worst might look like.

While being rude to a cashier at the grocery store or yelling at that car that just went straight in a left turn only lane is not being at peace with people, the most turmoil we experience with other people is with the ones we see every day.  Family members, coworkers, and others we interact with on a regular basis have ample opportunity to get on our nerves, whether intentional or not (usually not).  

So how do you maintain peace with the people that seem determined to get under your skin?

Take a step back.  Are they really as adversarial as you think, or are you making it bigger than it really is?  Sometimes when I get angry with my husband about something, I remind myself that he is my partner, the one that loves me more than anyone, and he is not out to get me.  He does not deliberately want to make me mad.  This reminder quickly cools my fire.

With coworkers, this may not work quite as well, since you don't have the assumption of love and commitment, but it can still be helpful to step back and ask yourself if that person is trying to make you angry or if it is unintentional, such as a personality conflict.  I can't imagine anyone desiring negative relationships with their coworkers.  When coworkers are able to get along, productivity and quality of work is improved, and it's simply a much nicer place to work.

If trying to believe that someone only has good intentions (or at least not bad ones) doesn't help your feelings and interactions with them, follow the example of my friend Lara.

Lara has a kind and energetic personality and rarely says a negative word about anyone.  Throughout our college years, if she found someone particularly trying, she would say, either aloud or to herself, "Jesus loves them very much."  

I have to admit, it became a bit of a joke in our circle because that was the only way we would know Lara had a problem with someone.  But she had it right!  Jesus loves that person you can't handle.  Jesus chose to die for that person in the same way He did for you.

Who are you to have such negative thoughts toward that person that Jesus loves?  Who are you to treat badly the person Jesus gave His life for?

See the people around you with the eyes of Jesus and treat them in the same way He would.

Sometimes, though, there is a break in a relationship that needs to be healed in order for you to have peace.

As uncomfortable as it can be, that often means a conversation needs to take place.

In elementary school, I had a friendship severed because of a series of events mostly outside of my control.  Unfortunately, the relationship was never repaired.  This experience was something I carried around with me, a burden on my shoulders, for years.  (It amazes me to think how much what happens to us as children affects our adult lives.)  Finally, after my first year of college, I clearly saw how much I had been affected by it over the past ten or so years.  Realizing I wanted to finally put it behind me, I managed to track down his email address (Facebook wasn't around quite yet), and I sent him an email.

I explained how I still had this animosity toward him after all this time and that I was ready to be rid of it.  I explained my point of view, not to prove a point, but because we had never talked about what happened.  And then I asked his forgiveness for being angry at him for all those years.

I didn't wait long for a reply.  His response was kind and sincere.  He easily forgave me, and then he apologized as well, explaining the actions his ten-year-old self.  

We haven't interacted since, but now when I think of that whole experience, my thoughts are positive, rather than the negative ones I held on to previously.

I learned that it is important to take the step to bring reconciliation and peace.  There comes a point, usually sooner than later, that it no longer matters who was right and who was wrong.  Taking the first step may lead you to results that surprise you.  I had no idea what was going to come from my email, but it turned out better than I could have imagined.

Sometimes it doesn't work out so well and a positive response doesn't come, but I would hope that sending my email would have brought peace to my life even if it had gone unread or unanswered.  It was about releasing my anger.  Everything else was outside of my control.

I am thankful that Paul said, "if possible, so far as it depends on you."  We can only do so much to restore broken relationships.  If the other person is unwilling or unable to reconcile, you must come to terms with it as best as you can and live in peace with the other person so far as they will allow you.

Dealing with difficult people can be . . . well . . . difficult, but striving to be at peace with other people brings you peace with God and peace within yourself.

I want to know what ways you have tried to be at peace with others and what the result was.  Please tell me by commenting below.

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