“Do all that you can to live in PEACE with everyone.” Romans 12:18 (NLT)
When my firstborn child was little, I allowed my own selfish opinion and ego to get in the way of an important extended family relationship. To me, it was too important to state my opinion and allow my mommy emotions to lead my actions. This caused a 3 year rift that took a lot of love and a humbled attitude to overcome. Today this relationship is thriving and our children love each other dearly. But this experience has taught me some very valuable lessons. How many times has a difference in opinion caused a wall to grow between family members, friendships, church members or other moms in your small group?
First of all, every mom out there has a different opinion and a different view on what the right way is to raise their children. Unfortunately, most of us think so strongly that our way is the right one that we are all too eager to apply it to those around us. Living at peace with someone does NOT mean that I agree with everything they do or believe. I can love someone while disagreeing with their point of view. I can give them room to grow and pray for a person I don’t agree with. I have often been surprised how often God has worked in someone’s life without my input. I have to ask myself some important questions. Is this worth the fight? In light of eternity, will this matter? Is this something that blatantly goes against God’s Word?
I have read in more than one place that the number one reason that missionaries leave their field of service is conflict with other missionaries. (You can find links to some of those articles below.) These differences with our peers can be so annoying, thought consuming, wall building and hurtful that it makes the missionary (or any of us) become unable to minister the way God desires. In some cases, it can even hurt the witness of a person. My ongoing prayer is that when our time comes to leave the mission field, we will be going because the Lord has moved us on.
The only way to guard against this kind of rift in your life is to love people unconditionally. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a map for doing this.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Can you imagine how our relationships would change if we actively practiced this with everyone? If we harbor bitterness in our heart, we create walls around it that cannot be breached. The bitterness won’t eat at anyone but you.
I think this means we need to Love Beneath the Surface. No one completely knows another person. Sometimes we just have to give that person the benefit of the doubt that they have good reasons for doing or saying something. My mother is a perfect example of this. I have always been amazed to watch my mother meet new people. Within minutes she will be chatting away like they are old friends. She never meets a stranger! She loves people because God loves them. What a wonderful example for us to follow!
So what does this look like in everyday life? For me, I have learned that when someone is sharing with me something I don’t agree with, I don’t always have to argue my point. I can simply smile and give them a safe place to share. This shows in a tangible way that I care about them. If someone is doing something that I don’t particularly agree with, and it does not include something harmful, I spend time praying about the situation and for that person. There have been times when affection for that person has grown and I am given the opportunity to gently guide them, from the foundation of a loving relationship.
Let us all strive to “live at peace with everyone”!
digging Deeper (A Devotional followup)
Read Romans 12 and answer the following questions.
- How does God transform us?
- How will I learn what God’s good and perfect will is for me?
- Based on verses 3-5, what does God expect of us with the privilege and authority he has given us as His children?
- What gifts has God blessed you with? How can you use them to glorify God?
- Based on verses 14-18, how are we to respond to others who go against us?
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