May 21, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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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 often settle for the that. Think about how often you’ve heard the words “peace” and “quiet” lumped together. “Go and play outside. Mom and Dad need some peace and quiet.” “Class, please! Can we have a little peace and quiet?”
In our relationships with others who have different worldviews and philosophies, belief systems, political affiliations, or lifestyles we don’t agree with, we tend to either avoid problems by not talking about them or we avoid the people. Why? Because it’s easier to settle for a perceived peace that’s really more akin to quiet, despite this unspoken tension or even all-out strife and conflict boiling beneath the surface.
So, 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; 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’d live in a way that promotes and invokes peace with and in others, that we’d effectively distribute the peace of God to those around us. If we’re not, what’s keeping us from doing so?
For many, the reason is actually in the first part of today’s verse: “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 them is solely dependent upon them. And when we live this way, we’ll constantly find ourselves in turmoil, 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 they live, 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.
Pause: What’s the difference between real peace and what we often settle for? How can you fight for the real thing?
Practice: Consider your relationships today. Consider those relationships you have with people who believe, think, or live differently than you. How are you engaging in those relationships? Pray today 1) the Spirit would help you stop seeing them through the lens of whatever differences you may have but instead through the lens of Christ Jesus and 2) the Lord would use you to be a peacemaker in their lives to the glory of God and for the good of your relationship.
Pray: Father, help me walk more firmly entrenched and enveloped in the peace of Christ, in step with the Spirit, so I may be an agent of transformation, a peacemaker, an effective minister of reconciliation, and an ambassador of Christ and His gospel to all the various relationships in my life, both those that are seemingly in agreement and those where major differences in worldview have caused tension. Use me to draw them to You, Lord. Amen.
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.