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November 28, 2021 | Ed Stetzer
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“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”—Romans 12:18 (NIV)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension.” But the truth is, we oftentimes settle for the absence of outward tension. Think about it . . . how often do you hear the words “peace” and “quiet” lumped together? “Why don’t you all go and play outside? Mom and Dad need a bit of peace and quiet.” “Class, please! Can we have a little peace and quiet?”
The funny thing is, even though we have bound these two things, they’re not at all the same . . . And yet, we so often settle for the latter—quiet—even if, beneath the surface, all-out strife and conflict are taking place.
Let me get this out of the way now: When Paul says “live at peace with everyone,” he’s not talking about quiet or the absence of tension or conflict. The Greek word he uses here for living at peace is eirēneuontes. It describes “living in the condition of God's peace; the gift of wholeness and; cultivating or keeping harmony and integrity.”
The apostle is calling us to be people who are peaceable, peaceful, and gentle. He’s calling us to be friendly, considerate, sincere, and full of mercy; to embody peace and goodwill and bring it out of people as they’re soothed by our presence—as if being in the presence of Jesus.
I pray we would not be like the Israelites as described in Jeremiah 6:14 (NLT), who offered “superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound” and gave “assurances of peace when there is no peace.” I pray we would live in a way that promotes peace with others and invokes peace in others, that we would effectively distribute the peace of God to those around us. If not, then what’s keeping us from doing so?
For many, the reason is actually in the first part of today’s verse: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you” Often, we don’t live at peace with others because we depend on others. We act as though our ability to live at peace with those around us isn’t dependent upon us but on them. And when we live this way, we’ll constantly find ourselves in turmoil, in conflict, lacking any kind of peace, and seeking to control the people around us and the circumstances we find ourselves in. But this is no way to live!
For believers, our peace comes from the Holy Spirit in us! Nothing external should be able to take that peace away from us. If we’re abiding in Him, if we’re living a lifestyle of prayer and thanksgiving, His peace will be available to us. And as His peace is available to us, we’re able to pass it on to others. But if we get bogged down by the external, by what others do and how others live and act and treat us, then peace will certainly be harder to come by.
You can’t control what others do, but you can control what you do and how you react. Maybe they’ll commit acts of war, but that shouldn’t impact what you do! You should turn the other cheek and diffuse the peace of God. When I stand before the Lord, I’m not going to answer for how others treated me, just for how I lived and treated others in light of the gospel of Jesus.
As we enter the Christmas season and remember how the Prince of Peace came to bring us into perfect peace with God and that His peace resides in us through His Spirit, I want to challenge you to consider your current relationships. Are you walking in peace with others while settling for quiet with inner tension still lurking, or are you experiencing all-out conflict with others? Christmas is a great time to make peace with people! If you’re not sure how to go about it, e-mail me at DanielS@CalvaryFTL.org. I’d be happy to help walk you through it!
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.