During the holidays you are around people you seldom see. Sometimes that involves spending time with family, coworkers, and peers that given the choice, you may not pick to be with. Paul says, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18). Thankfully, throughout Romans 12, he tells us how.
In this chapter, Paul follows theology with application. The first thing he talks about is our relationship with God. Verses 1-3 say, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” The first step to being at peace with everyone is to be at peace with God. Peace comes when you respond to the mercies of God. Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. Your relationship with God is spiritual. It is based on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. In return, God asks for total sacrifice and total worship from us. Because He has shown us mercy, we can show mercy to others (1 Thess. 5:23). Peace is part of sanctification. The order given in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is very important – spirit, soul, body. The reason people cannot find peace is because they try to start with the body (meds, drugs, alcohol). Peace comes from God himself. You have to start with the Spirit. Paul also tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If you want peace this Christmas, you have to win the battle of the mind (Is. 26:3). The battle you must win is the battle within!
Paul continues in verses 3-6 talking about the body and different gifts. He refers to the church as a body and talks about our relationship with other believers. We are all different but are all one in Christ. Teeth chew, ears hear, eyes see, and feet walk, yet they are one body. The body has to work in harmony with itself. If the parts do not function together correctly, it becomes dysfunctional. Why are so many families and relationships dysfunctional? Because they do not appreciate one another’s differences. You see your differences as competing rather than completing. Romans 12:10 says we are to “love one another deeply as brothers and sister.” In your relationship with other believers, do you compete with one another or complete one another? Do you appreciate others or attack others?
Finally, Paul talks about our relationship with non-believers and our enemies. Verses 14-21 say, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,’ says the Lord. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” Don’t defend yourself. Let God do it and don’t get in His way. He can make even your enemies be at peace with you (Ps. 16:7). The devil is the great accuser. Accusations divide. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense.” Discretion makes you slow to anger. A person at war with themselves will be at war with everyone around them. Don’t take it personally. Sure, they offended you, but overlook it. It is a decision. Get over it. You have more important things to do this Christmas than live offended. Living offended is not going to help you or anyone else. Live at peace.
People today are quick to be offended. You always find what you are looking for. If you are looking to be offended, you will be. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond. It takes two to fight and two to reconcile but only one to forgive and only one to live in peace. We are not called to win arguments but to win souls.
Just like you wake up and get physically dressed every day, make sure your feet are fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15). It will be hard, and you can’t do it on your own, but worry and anger don’t have to be normal. Peace should be normal for the believer. The most important relationship of all is your relationship with God. He is our Peace. When you have peace with Him, it affects everything else.