How do you find peace in a world filled with conflict…and in challenging relationships?
Hebrews 12:14 tells us to pursue peace with all people. You might be wondering: Does that really mean all people? My neighbor? My family? Even my boss?
Friend, the Word doesn’t give us an option here. Yes, we are to pursue peace with all people. Romans 14:19 says, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
Just this morning, my wife Janet and I sat at our kitchen table discussing how we could restore someone who has offended several people in the church. We are praying about it and praying for them. We are seeking God about the best way to communicate with them and bring correction that will be helpful in resolving the situation.
That brings me to the four practical steps that will help you become a pursuer of peace…
1. Pray about it.
Prayer brings the influence of the Holy Spirit upon situations and upon people’s hearts. We love it when prayer brings instant results. But most of the time it initiates a process. As we pray, God begins to change hearts and attitudes.
2. Communicate about it.
Prayer is the first step; but often where there’s a conflict, you’ll have to actually talk to the other party to find peace. The goal isn’t to prove you’re right but to make peace. Be sure to do at least as much listening as you do talking. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” Try to understand the “why” behind their words and actions.
3. Give a gift.
Proverbs 21:14 (ERV) says, “If anyone is angry with you, give them a gift in private. A gift given in secret will calm even the strongest anger.” Giving a gift can be powerful. Jacob pacified Esau’s anger with gifts. Abigail brought gifts to David, which prevented his anger from causing him to commit a terrible sin. I’m not talking about buying someone’s favor or making a bribe. A thoughtful gift says, “I invested time to get this because I value you.”
4. Invite them in.
If we give someone the cold shoulder and treat them like they’re invisible or disgusting, then we undo any good we might have done to bring about peace through prayer, words, or gifts. Our actions need to be warm, friendly, and inclusive. Try to make the person feel like a part of your world.
What if they don’t respond?
Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” We can’t force peace. We’re commanded only to pursue peace. Sometimes the other person may refuse. Our job is to do our part and leave the results up to God.