“Live Peaceably With All Men”
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all man.” Romans 12:18
So … what in the world does THAT mean!?
Have you ever tried to analyze and figure out what this verse means? It’s one of those verses we just read over and move on to the next verse thinking we sort of have a vague general idea of what that means.
But do we?
As of late, my Bible reading has greatly slowed down. Not because I can’t read faster though. I just feel the need to park myself on some of these simpler, “yup, I got it,” verses.
I’m finding out, at this stage in my salvation, that I really don’t have a firm grip on some of the verses I’ve always sort of walked over. It’s these “little” verses that, when left unattended, ruin the vine of the believer’s walk. (Song of Solomon 2:15) And yet, we continue to stumble over them thinking we have our act together when in reality … we don’t completely.
Every time I read this verse I come away with more questions than answers.
Does “if it be possible” mean that it’s not always possible? Or, does it mean it is possible but, for whatever reason, I’m messing up and getting in the way of a peaceable coexistence?
And then … does “all men” really mean ALL men? Wait … I got it … it means all the people that are nice and kind to me. (I wish.) Can I not get a little upset with someone that isn’t nice and kind to me? Do I always have to acquiesce? Why do I always have to lay down and get stepped on? When can I rip that person a new one??
I turned to one of my commentators that I respect: Albert Barnes. Here’s what he said.
“The impossibility of this in some cases is hinted at, to keep up the hearts of those who, having done their best unsuccessfully to live in peace, might be tempted to think the failure was necessarily owing to themselves. But how emphatically expressed is the injunction to let nothing on our part prevent it! Would that Christians were guiltless in this respect!”
That’s a great note. No, it is not always possible to live peaceably with all men. But, as much as it does depend upon us, we are to strive for it. And sometimes it won’t work out. We’ll be misunderstood or, sometimes, not even tried to be understood.
In essence, relationships at times are messy and there’s just no way to avoid the bumps and collisions. I think that’s the hard part … having tried and failed.
But … that’s life, right?
While thinking about this verse my mind went right away to the life of Yeshua. Was everything peace around Him all the time? Was everybody He came in contact with pleased as punch that He showed up and opened His mouth?
What’s interesting, though, is that when people got angry with Yeshua (meaning He got them mad or they got mad at Him on their own), He didn’t seem to lose any sleep over it. I never sense that His blood pressure raised even a little. Although, I would have loved to take the blood pressure of some of the scribes and Pharisees He let have it.
What do we make of this?
Well … Yeshua WAS Himself living peaceably with all men. Everybody just wasn’t always living at peace with Him. Their problem, not His. He was at peace, unruffled, self-composed, cool breezing it while those around Him were … well … not.
Am I on to something?
We won’t always be able to create the peaceable environment, but it would appear that we can, and should, always be AT PEACE within the environment. So rather than striving to make everything around us work out in peace, how about we first work out being at peace within ourselves?
That guy honks his horn at you and gives you the finger … be at peace. If you deserved it, take it, apologize if you can, and move on. If you didn’t deserve it, take it and move on as well.
A person at work was unnecessarily rude, mean, or just down right nasty … be at peace, WITHIN yourself.
A congregation member maligned you and misrepresented you to others … cast all your cares upon Him for He careth for you.
Don’t you think that, at least in part, Yeshua (humanly speaking) was able to endure all He did because He went to His Heavenly Father in prayer and laid it all at His feet? After all, Yeshua was tempted in all points like as we are … wasn’t He? And yet He didn’t sin.
That’s why we can look to Him for our help. He’s been there, done that. There’s nothing we’ll ever go through in relationships that He doesn’t understand.
“For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
No, we can’t, and won’t, always be able to make everything “peaceable” around us. But, we can and are to make everything WITHIN us to be a peace.
That’s the half of the equation we ARE responsible for.
The other half? …
Let go of it and turn it over to the One that can handle it. And then …
“Live peaceably with” in yourself.