Peace With All Men“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).
Paul implies peace may not always be possible, but it is an object of desire. “As much as lieth in you,” that is, do your best to preserve peace. Don’t begin or originate a quarrel. Don’t stir up trouble over things of no vital importance. So far as we are concerned, we are to seek peace, but it doesn’t always depend on us. We may be attacked one day by snarling, biting dogs. We may be called upon to defend truth. Ours is to live peaceably. We start no strife, or contention.
It was not possible for Paul to live peaceable with all men. He will reference many times how he was among those who sought to do him harm (2Cor. 11:24-26). Paul referred to the wild beast in Ephesus. He said that “Alexander did me much harm” (2 Tim 4:14). Even our Lord did not find it possible to live peaceably with all men. He overthrew the table of the money changers on two separate occasions. He warned His own disciples, “If the world hates me they will hate you” (John 15:18). The Jews were determined to kill Him. Caiaphas said, “This man has got to die for the nation” (John 11:51-52). However, Jesus nor Paul went about looking to start a fight or stir up trouble. When they faced the difficulty of living peaceably with others they made sure it was others who stirred the strife.
We ought to be a peace loving people. In fact, we are commanded to “seek peace” (1Pet. 3:11). Peace is something we must pursue (2Tim. 2:22). Peace is to be a present characteristic of our life. We also need to pursue peace so that our lives may be tranquil and live at peace before God in the same way we live righteously before God. Peace is as foundational as faith, love and righteousness. It is not optional! Yet, at times we find ourselves embroiled with others who just will not live peaceably and so we are left to contend for what is right or what is truth. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace makers…” (Mt 5). That is an interesting concept. He did not say, Blessed are those who enjoy peace, nor, those that want peace, or even, maintain peace. But, instead, make peace. Making peace means there is a situation where peace does not exist. The Lord had in mind, first and foremost, peace with God.
So here is the real question. How do we do live peaceably? Well, first we will not be able to live in peace with others until we live in peace with God (Romans 5:1). If we find ourselves enemies of the Creator we are not at peace. Peace is found in salvation. Salvation is found in the Savior. The Savior brings peace. Enemies are reconciled to Him by His blood (Eph. 2: 13-14). There is no peace with God apart from Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace.
So for us, peace can be attained in this manner: “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility” (Tit. 3:2). See the family of words? They all form a unit. Get the point! We live peaceable with all men when we do not speak evil, when we are gentle and show all humility. Notice right before peaceable is to speaking evil of no one. How many times is peace interrupted because someone has a poorly thought out word? It only takes one word to do it. Then notice what follows. What would be the impact on peace if we put gentle into the equation? Not a harsh word or action. What if everybody were gentle? Would that contribute a lot to peace? Would that make it possible to live peaceably with all men? Then see, “showing all humility.” Man is at the apex of all God created. Man is made in God’s own image. To depreciate man is to depreciate God. Humility is a chosen place in which one chooses to take second place to others. We let someone go before us. We give our self second place. We do that not because the other is better than us but because we think they deserve to be first. We show humility because that makes us like God (Matthew 5:45). Did the Lord ask the impossible of us?
Sadly, in spite of all this it is still not possible to live peaceable with all men. But, when it is not possible I need to make sure I am not the reason why. Sometimes we may have to fight a war to have peace. However, I need to make sure I am not just wanting to make war. We have confused those who contend for the faith and those who are contentious. Contentious people like to fight. They do not care what the fight is about. Fighting for the faith is just a convenient excuse to fight. Some just like to stir the pot. They destroy unity, set everyone on edge, and make people suspicious of others. Controversy for the sake of controversy is not seeking peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 sets the tone and attitudes necessary for brethren to get along. Patience, forebearing, humility are the necessary ingredients. True enough we may have to be at war. The call to peace is a not a figure. It is a factual matter. We have been called to be peaceable people. The angels declared at the birth of Jesus that He would bring “Peace on Earth.” The prophets called Him the “Prince of Peace.” The people of Jesus follow that model. That does not mean peace over right or heresy. It means we have been called in a high priority matter to be peaceable, as much as we can, in all circumstances, and with all people. That is built into the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). It only takes one to disturb the peace. I can only control me and what I am pursuing. I need to make sure I am pursuing peace. I need to make sure I am fighting only when the fight is necessary. Can we carry grudges? Can we be a grouch to those around us? Can we be obstinate and obnoxious so that we do not get along with anybody? Yes. And, we cannot say, “Well, that is just the way I am.” There are consequences if we behave that way. “Pursue peace with all men,” not just brethren. That is our call.
Peace is not the absence of trouble. It is hard work. It deals with our spirit, our heart. It is attainable. The Lord expects it. We are to pursue it. Here is a novel idea, “Let’s give it a try and see how it works.” The fruit is better (Jas. 3:17). The church will be better. Our homes will be better. Society will be better. I will be better. The path to heaven is through Christ. He provides peace. Give His way a try.