Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
We live in a culture that loves to blame. It is nothing new, mind you. As I read through the Bible I see blame being used even beginning with Adam. This verse, however, places some responsibility back on me. To live at peace with “everyone”, I have to take some action and look at myself. Here are some steps toward living at peace with everyone.
The first thing I have to realize is that I have a choice on how I react to situations and people. I both say and hear the commonly used phrase, “That makes me angry.” Honestly, very few things make me anything. I have a choice to be angry or not. Now, I realize that many things trigger my anger easily and it can appear to me that the cause it outside of me. However, when I really drill down into the source of my anger, it does not come from an outer source. I choose my reaction. With this recognition of myself, I become better at discovering the other person’s intent. To seek first to understand is a beginning step toward peacemaking.
A second step in this process relates closely to the latter part of the first. Seek first to understand before attempting to be understood. What is behind the actions of others? I learned on a recent leadership weekend that a good leader will have a sense of wonderment about what is behind the words and actions of others. Instead of becoming defensive, first seek to understand. The person I am dealing with may have just lost someone, lost a job, had a fight with a spouse, and/or may be deep in a wounded place.
Third, I do not need to take things so personally. Many times the actions and words of others have very little to do with me and my situation. It is arrogant of me to think that most of the way a person is acting is directed toward me. If I become defensive, it opens a door for that person to attack my character. If I practice having a choice and seeking to understand, then I am able to take things less personally.
Fourth, I have to look inside of me. I ask myself this question often: “How is this about me?” I follow this question with some sub-questions like: What are their actions and words triggering in me? What is my reaction tied to? Is this something from my past that has hurt me before and this situation reminds me? Do I act like they are acting which in turn makes me uncomfortable? I carry into every situation my own baggage. When I react, I am pulling something out of a suitcase of wounds or past actions. I need to recognize those things in myself.
Finally, I have to put all these pieces of my being together and be intentional. I have to enter every situation with the intention of living at peace. If I am able to put the order of “living at peace” on me, it makes the situation smoother. Obviously, there are times where cooperation from the other party is just not possible. But, if I have entered the situation with the intent of peace, then I have met what Paul is challenging us in this verse, “…as far as it depends on you…”
So, remember these steps: We have a choice. Seek first to understand. Do not take things so personally. How is this about me? And, be intentional. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
1. How did this verse land with you?
2. Which step is one of your strengths? Why?
3. Which step is a weakness of yours? Why?
4. What is a common action or phrase that will trigger you to defensiveness?
5. What wound does that come from for you?
6. What makes it difficult for you to seek to understand others?
7. Pay attention this week to how you react to people. Ask Jesus to point out to you both where this comes from for you and what you are missing as far as understanding goes.
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