When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7 ESV).
Friend to Friend
“I want to wish you a happy birthday, Sir. I have just one question for you. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in life?”
“Well,” said the man, “I don’t have a single enemy in the world.”
“Really? That’s incredible!” responded the reporter. “What is your secret?”
The centenarian smiled and proudly replied, “I have outlived every single one of them.”
Let’s be honest. Some people are harder to get along with than others. I call them “sandpaper people” because they are irritating and rub me the wrong way. When it comes to handling those difficult relationships, God does not want or expect us to declare war.
We are to control our emotions instead of allowing them to control us. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:18, “As much as you can, live in peace with all men” (NLV). Don’t miss those important words “as much as you can.”
We are to do everything we possibly can to have a peaceful relationship with those difficult people in our lives. If nothing works, we pray for them and let them go. God will do the rest. We need to set our mind on peace – not winning.
God’s desire is for us to wage peace in every relationship. What is even more amazing to me is the fact that God calls us to wage peace with even the roughest, most abrasive sandpaper people who come our way. Now that is a formidable task, since sandpaper people seem to love a good fight, live to evoke angry reactions, and are fierce warriors determined to win every battle initiated by their downright irritating personalities.
Here’s the life changing truth: combat is impossible when the enemy has laid down his weapons and chosen peace.
Unresolved conflict is the enemy of peace, and peace is often the casualty of unresolved conflict in relationships. I love this little poem about relationship problems:
“To dwell above with saints we love, that will be grace and glory.
To live below with saints we know; that’s another story!”
The world has its own system for working out conflict – retaliation. God has a different plan for working out conflict – restoration. The apostle Paul was a master at conflict resolution. In 1 Thessalonians 5:13, he offers a simple but powerful command to “live in peace with each other.” In Colossians 3:12-14, he paints a clear picture of what living in peace should look like:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Sounds like an impossible task, doesn’t it? It is … unless we choose to rely on and surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. When Paul says that we are to “clothe” ourselves with certain characteristics so we will always be prepared for peace, he means we must plan ahead and make deliberate choices before the choice is actually necessary.
For example, the holidays are coming up. (I know. I can’t believe it either.) Let’s say your least favorite relatives are coming, and you are already dreading their visit. Make the decision now to practice patience, love, and self-control during their stay. Choose today to please God by how you treat them and welcome them into your home. Why?
“When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7 ESV).
“He” is the operating word in the verse above. Did you catch that? Our obedience to God invites Him to promote peace in our relationships – even the most difficult ones. All we have to focus on is making sure our ways are pleasing to the Lord and He will do the rest.
Father, I want to live a life of obedience to You. Make me an instrument of Your peace. Teach me to love even my enemies. Today, I choose to surrender my stubborn will to You. I lay down my emotional weapons and choose peace.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What one change are you willing to make today to promote peace in your relationships? Record your answer in your journal along with a prayer of commitment. Feeling brave? Share your commitment with a girlfriend who will hold you accountable.
More from the Girlfriends
Life is so daily, isn’t it? Need help? Check out Mary’s new devotion books, Life is So Daily Volumes 1 and 2. I pray they will encourage and equip you to face each day with God’s power.
Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2021 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.