Have you ever been around someone who irritated you so much that there was no “peace” within the relationship? (In fact, it might even be said that the relationship was “toxic” at best.) And though you “tried your best”, things still seemed hopeless. I’m sure that this has happened to most of us. So, how do you deal with a situation such as this? Do you shun the person; are you rude to them?
In Romans 12:18 we find the following exhortation,
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
Before you try to use the beginning of this verse to justify disassociating yourself with one who irritates you, consider the second part of this verse, “as much as lieth in you.” Born again believers have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whereby we are to draw strength and perseverance from. The traits of the Lord we must lean on at times such as these are: watchfulness and patience – by seeking the Lord’s calm and peace; that we not retaliate; that we are honest in our dealings with the individual; and that we cultivate a peaceable spirit.
The latter part of verse 18 states, “live peaceably with all men.” Herein we are exhorted to be continually seeking to live peaceably with all men, so that you may be able to edify them and/or help them.
Romans 14:19 states,
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
And James 3:17-18 states,
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
While writing this article I came upon a story that I believe brings this admonition to life. A woman, while standing in line to board her plane, heard the desk attendant announce that the plane would be delayed for about forty-five minutes. The woman decided to purchase a book to read and a bag of cookies to eat during the delay. The woman sat down in a chair with an armrest, opened her book and began to read quietly in peace. Beside the armrest where the packet of cookies lay, a man sat down in the next chair, opened his magazine and began to read. When the woman took the first cookie from the bag, the man also took one. The woman was irritated but decided to say nothing. But as she continued to take a cookie, so would the man. And for each cookie she took, so did the man. The woman became very angered – but decided to say nothing for fear of creating a scene (though in her mind she was thinking, “This man has his nerve – if I were in a different mood, I would probably punch him!”). When there was only one cookie left, she wondered, “What will this abusive man do now?” The man took the last cookie and broke it in half, giving her the last half. The woman was now infuriated. In a huff she slammed her book closed, gathered her things and headed for the boarding area. Upon finding her seat on the plane (still enraged) – she opened her purse to retrieve her eyeglasses and there she saw her bag of cookies. Her heart sank and she felt so ashamed – for she had forgotten that she had placed her bag of cookies in her purse. As it turned out, the man had shared his bag of cookies with her – without feeling angered or bitter. And now there was no way for her to explain or to apologize.
Let us now reconsider the first part of Romans 12:18, “If it be possible.” With the grace of God it is possible to seek to live peaceably with all men. In reality, this man demonstrated that “it is possible”. You may never know how that your peaceable spirit may cause a lost individual to come to the Lord in salvation. But consider the consequences that can result from a retaliating and combative spirit – the individual may never find the Lord. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you that it is possible to live peaceably.