The world seems full of all-knowing, perfect, lofty people who have no trouble seeing themselves as such; perhaps you know the type. Such people usually question everyone else; however, no one can ever question them because, well, they know it all, and nothing satisfies them unless they put their name and or personal touch on it. They ignore a job well done when their name is not on the bottom line, or the chosen idea was not their idea, and the list goes on.
It is often frustrating to speak to or work with such people because of the value they place in themselves. Simply put, you are wrong; they are correct, and that is all there is to it! Besides, they usually have a firewall built on ego and pride that serves to filter out everything that is not about them. In other words, such people tend not to appreciate the work and efforts of others, unless of course, it puts a feather in their cap. Surely everyone, at some point, has encountered people like that, and if not, no need to worry, they will.
Our response to such people is often an inner desire to give them a piece of our mind, as the old saying goes, or to let them have it, as it were. But what does the Bible say about how we, as Christians, ought to deal with such self-absorbed people? Apostle Paul gives us a clear answer in the book of Romans. Paul wrote, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18).
It is as important to clarify what Paul is not saying in as much as what he is saying. Paul is not saying if we are willing, then we are to be at peace with everyone; instead, he asserts is that we must make every effort to do so. Now, why did Paul write, “if possible?” He set this condition because he knew some people would refuse to be at peace no matter what. But the onus is on them, not us because we would be in obedience to God’s word, i.e., in as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
“Yea, but that’s easier said than done,” you might say, and I agree, it is, but only if we choose to yield to our flesh and not the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, when telling His disciples to go make disciples of all nations, “lo, I am with your always, even to the end of the age.” God dwells within the believer in the form of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in us, we can overcome our human frailty of bitterness, anger, hatred, and so on to pursue peace with everyone.
Let’s take this a step further. Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). The renewal of our mind, in part, is to suppress the sinful nature that calls us to seek revenge against those who mistreat us and to align our will to God’s as led by the Holy Spirit. It means casting aside the ways of this fallen world in favor of the divine righteousness of God.
Jesus said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). Now some people take this verse the wrong way. They believe that when someone treats them unfairly, harshly, or even maliciously, they can retaliate and treat the offender in that same way. Not so. Jesus instructs His followers to treat others as we want them to treat us no matter how they choose to treat us.
To be at peace with others, in as much as it depends on us, enables us to be a more effective witness for Christ and builds for us a powerful testimony for sharing the gospel. Yes, it is easier said than done, but Jesus never said that life in this fallen world would be easy. What Jesus did say was “Follow Me,” and no one sets a better example of what it means to be humble and forgiving in the face of persecution than Jesus Christ. Now, with that being said, the rest depends on us.