Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pursue Peace

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Notice the two qualifiers in this verse. First, it says “if” it is possible, not “it is possible.” Second, it says “as much as depends on you.”

It’s not always possible to live at peace with every single person. There are some people who, no matter what we do, are still going to choose to be angry and hurtful. In those cases, it doesn’t have anything to do with us, it has to do with their pain and their hurt. We are still to love them and pray for them and attempt to be at peace with them. But it takes two in any relationship, and sometimes being at peace with someone is out of our hands. We all have to make our own choice and decision to be at peace with other people.

So Paul says, if it is possible or if others will let you, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably or be at peace with ALL men.

We are to pursue peace with ALL people. No matter their belief, religion, personality, past, criminal record, social status, etc., we are to seek to be at peace with them. There's no asterisk here disqualifying certain people groups or personalities. God doesn't let us off the hook just because it might be difficult or take some hard work. He wants us to attempt to live peaceably with everyone we come in contact with.

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In Romans 12:18 in the New Living Translation it says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Am I doing ALL that I can—everything within my own power and ability—to live in peace with EVERYONE? We are to do our best to live in peace! We are to do nothing on our part to prevent peace!

Very few people operate in the “as much as depends on you”, but instead the “as long as it’s easy and comfortable.” We can’t make someone live at peace with us, but we can be a reflection of Jesus by forgiving and loving them, no matter what their response may be.

When circumstances do arise where it's not possible to be at peace with someone, we need to make sure we aren't the reason it's not possible. We should have already made our choice to attempt to be at peace with them. We can always look to the life of Jesus, for He is our perfect example and the standard we are to compare ourselves to.

We can be at peace with others even if they choose not to be at peace with us. It's very similar to choosing to forgive someone instead of holding a grudge. We can forgive people even if they don't ask for forgiveness or show remorse. That's what Jesus decided to do even while dying on the cross. In Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Jesus chose to be at peace with His executioners and to love them, even if they didn't react or respond in a similar fashion. It would be a very different story if Jesus instead was cussing them out and cursing them! How often is peace lost in our lives and relationships because of the words we say?

In Titus 3:2 in the Voice Bible it says, “Don’t tear down another person with your words. Instead, keep the peace, and be considerate. Be truly humble toward everyone”

In Hebrews 12:14 it says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:” That word “pursue” means to follow after, run after, seek after eagerly and earnestly, and to strive for.

If we don't pursue peace and holiness in our lives, people won't see the Lord! If we aren't living lives full of peace, joy, hope, and love then why would people want to hear from us?

If we are known as the mean or angry person at work or in our family, then why would people ever come to us for help or for spiritual guidance? As followers of Jesus, we should be different! It should be apparent that we are Christians! It was apparent in Jesus' life and in the lives of His disciples.

You will not be an effective witness for Jesus without living a consistent life of peace. So I want to encourage you today to be like Jesus, be someone who does everything in your own power and ability to pursues peace with ALL people.

Until next time, shake the earth!
- Joel

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