be at peace…
Do you have anyone in your life who is difficult to be at peace with?
And I gotta say that sometimes, being at peace is no small task…and definitely not always very fun or very fair.
For the last year, I’ve been wrestling with what the Bible says about being a peacemaker because I’ve been struggling with some really difficult people. God has been working on my heart, nudging me to press in and take the next step in loving those difficult people, even if it isn’t reciprocated.
It has not been an easy journey.
There are some people that make being at peace seem as impossible as the Vikings winning the Superbowl (love my Vikes, but it’s true). They are the people who offend, reject or belittle me on a regular basis. Not my favorite.
However, the more I study the Word, the more I see a theme emerging that convicts me to the depths of my heart: we are called to be at peace with each other, and that peace starts with me. If I want to obey God, I must be the initiator of peace.
It would be so much easier if the responsibility for being at peace was someone else’s problem, wouldn’t it? Say for instance, like the person who is in the wrong?!
That’s not what I’ve found in scripture. I’ve come to the conclusion that if God asks us to be at peace with others, then I must be the one to pursue it.
Here’s a snapshot of what I mean:
- James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace-loving and gentle at all times, willing to yield to others.”
- 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you should be of one mind.”
- Colossians 3:5 “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body, we are called to live in peace.”
- Matthew 5:9 “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”
- Romans 12:18 “Do all that you can to live at peace with everyone.”
There’s no mistaking it, we are called to pursue peace – and not the kind that comes from being alone in a quiet place.
The kind that comes from choosing to end a disagreement with someone, or to set aside differences and choose to find common ground.
The kind of peace that leads to reconciliation. Unity. Connection. Harmony.
That kind of peace is easier said than done. I’ve failed miserably more times than I wish to admit. But in a year of working toward it, here’s what I have learned: I need a plan for peace. For that reason, I came up with a peace formula that I follow whenever I find myself struggling with someone.
Practically speaking, here’s what I do to be a peacemaker:
1. Clean out my heart. I pray and vent all of my emotion out to God. He sees my heart and knows my thoughts, so he is a safe place to share. Please note, I’m not purposefully talking badly about anyone during this venting session; I’m simply telling my Father all of my hurt, frustration, and anger that I feel. I get all of the ugly stuff out and lay it at his feet. I’ve found that ignoring emotions and keeping them pent up inside can lead to resentment, which is not helpful. James 1:20-21 says “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.”
2. Fill up with truth. There is so much power available to us if we will only humble ourselves and ask the Spirit to help us. We don’t have to do it in our own strength! The Spirit will come and fill us with what we need to be able to take steps toward peace with others – we just need to ask! Galatians 5:22-23 explains “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
3. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Usually, when I assess the offending situation, I find I am assuming the worst about the other party: guessing they have bad intentions and bad motives. When that happens, I try to identify the areas I am assuming the worst about and then I replace it with an assumption for the best. Here’s an example worst assumption: “That person was so rude to me, they must not like or respect me.” Here’s the best: “That person must either be really hurt or having a bad day to treat others that way.” Colossians 1:3 urges “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others.”
4. Focus on the common ground. Look for the good qualities in the other person and find areas of commonality. Searching for similarities instead of highlighting differences can help provide motivation for extending peace. In other words, find the win- identify ways that peace with this person will benefit your family, community or workplace. Colossians 3:14-15 advises “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
5. Choose to extend grace and forgive: even if the other person doesn’t deserve it or hasn’t earned it. Because Christ forgave us when we were still sinners, we can and should do the same. Pray and ask God to help you forgive that person and to help you demonstrate God’s love and grace. Reach out if it’s appropriate, but not if the situation doesn’t call for it or the situation is too hostile. In Matthew 18:22, Jesus tells Peter how many times he should forgive someone who offends him, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”
6. Set up a healthy boundary. I wholeheartedly believe we are called to work at cultivating peace, but there are times when a healthy boundary must be drawn. Certain people will always be hurtful, no matter how much peace you extend. There is a middle ground somewhere between the avoidance of that person and pursuing a friendship. It’s specific to each situation, but as a general rule: be kind when or if interactions happen, yet don’t feel obligated to initiate them. Know when you can stay strong and when you can’t. It’s a balancing act to be sure. 2 Peter 3:17, “I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own footing.”
Friends, I am no expert. I’m just a Christ-follower who wants to do her best to run the race well. I’m sharing what I have learned in hope that it can help or inspire you to pursue being at peace in your life. IT MATTERS! As always, I love hearing from you. Email or comment on the blog and I will get on my knees for you. Let’s do this faith journey together.
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