Impossible Peace

in: Devotional, Forgiving Day-by-Day

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Scripture

Romans 12:18 (New International Version)

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Consider

The apostle Paul urges us to live in peace with one another, yet he also acknowledges that peace is not necessarily within our grasp. A conflict always has two sides to consider, and the other person may not want peace or reconciliation. Even the wisest words have no effect on people who are not willing to listen. Some people view conflict as a contest they must win by seeing the other side defeated. Sometimes our attempts to bring peace only seem to provoke more anger and resentment.

A person’s rejection of our peace efforts may have little to do with us personally and more to do with that person’s deep-rooted pain and anger and disappointment. Sin might be blinding them and goading them to see us as their enemy. Even Jesus told his disciples that his message would stir up hostilities in families and communities and that they should not lose heart or take rejection personally. Human conflict is layered with unseen motives and forces, some of them spiritual and far more than we can mend with our one-sided peacemaking efforts.

Nevertheless, God asks us to pursue peace, even when a peaceful resolution seems unlikely, because he wants to make us holy. We are most like our heavenly Father when we value people more than we value winning a conflict and when loving the other person is more important than bringing him or her around to our point of view. What’s more, God gives us his own special and mysterious peace to guard our hearts and comfort us when we let gentleness reign in our relationships.

Pray

FATHER, I want to live in peace with others. In those relationships where I feel bitter and defensive, take away my thirst for argument. When I feel pulled to escalate a conflict, show me the path of peace instead. Give me grace to speak words that are wise and fair and to not be disheartened when others reject my peacemaking efforts. Let my attention be on acting in ways that honor you and bring glory to your Name.

Reflect

Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 10:34; Philippians 4:7

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How can you know when you’ve done everything possible to bring about a peaceful resolution to a conflict?

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