“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NIV)
Have you ever met someone who constantly offends you? Where it feels like he/she keeps poking you in the eye?
You have this feeling that you do nothing right whenever you are with them? The Bible does tell us that there are people who are toxic in relationships (Psalm 58:4).
I am sure we all have met such types of people. I have. If not careful, I can allow them mess up my attitude, my focus, and my perspective in life. Such people can mess up your friendships. It can even mess up your marriage.
People who are toxic are going to blame anyone but themselves — including you — for the problems in their lives. They may love to blame you for their pain, but you have to realize that it’s not about you. It’s about them. They are usually super righteous in their eyes, thinking that they are the only ones right. They love to criticize and are always suspicious of people.
When these negative and chaotic people get around you, it starts to rub off, and you may start thinking, “Am I going crazy? I know they’re crazy, but am I crazy, too?”
No, you’re not crazy.
The Bible says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Notice the two qualifiers in this verse. First, it says “if” it is possible, not “it is.” Second, it says “as far as it depends on you.”
It seems that the scripture above does say that it’s not always possible to live at peace with some people. It is really sad to know that there are some people who, no matter what you do, are still going to poke you in the eye. It doesn’t have anything to do with you. It has to do with their pain and their hurt.
You know what I love about the Bible? It always tells the truth about God, life, and human behavior. The Bible points out that it’s not always possible to live at peace with everybody. There are some people you just can’t get along with. There are some people who, no matter how nice you are to them, are still going to be mean to you. I am sure you have experienced this yourself.
What does “as far as it depends on you” mean? How can you apply this qualifier to a specific struggle you have with someone in your life?
If you struggle, thinking you must be at peace with everyone, even those who poison your life, you may need to take a step of faith. You may need to accept the fact that some people will not change. But we can. We can change our perspective based on our understanding of God’s truth.
God lives in us (Galatians 2:20). We need to dis-invest ourselves from depending on what people say. People are often flawed, imperfect, and selfish. If we expect to get joy and peace from them, we will stay miserable. Instead, we look up to Jesus and consider what He says about us. To Jesus, we are precious. We matter. When we do wrong, He is always gracious. Jesus is the way of peace.
Unfortunately, most people choose the way of anger and war. Too many people do not do all that is possible to live peaceably.
There is a story that I am reminded of. It is a story about a boy who asked his dad, “How do wars begin?” The father replied, “Well, World War I began because Germany invaded Belgium.” At this point his wife interrupted, “Tell the boy the truth. It began because somebody was murdered.” The husband quickly retorted, “Are you answering the question or am I?” The wife stormed out of the room and slammed the door as hard as she could. When the room stopped vibrating, an uneasy silence followed. The son then said, “Daddy, you don’t need to tell me how wars begin. Now I know!”
Perhaps it is better to examine ourselves. Are we quick to retaliate, or have you cultivated a peaceable spirit?
Jesus prayed for His enemies. Do we? Today, do all you possibly can to live peaceably.
When anger lingers in our heart, it poisons all we think and do. But faith seeks ways to show God’s love and keeps our spirit strong and true.
Remember, getting even takes us down to the level of the offender.