Perhaps it is just me, but it often seems that no matter how relaxing and spiritually refreshing a weekend is, the world comes at us full-throttle and hits us in the face on Monday like a cold bucket of water. This condition can be especially true for many during an election season when the society is often more polarized than any other time. It is a time when political discussions can quickly become heated and put people at odds with each other. It is a time when people allow their tongue to go unrestrained. There never seems to be a shortage of disgruntled people.
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.“Proverbs 18:19
As a young Christian, I became the offended brother who led my family away from the church. It took more than a decade for me to lower my guard and let the genuine love of God once again draw me back to the church through the love He expressed to and for me through others. The power of one’s tongue can do two things: it can bring healing or destruction. If it can push a Christian away from the church for so long, how much further will it push a non-believer? Therefore, as we enter into a new work week, let us keep the words of the Apostle Paul in mind. Paul wrote:
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”ROMANS 12:18
In his wisdom, which is ultimately God’s wisdom, Paul writes, “If possible,” because he knows there will be people who prefer to be miserable in life and dislike others for no reason. However, he adds, “so far as it depends on you” because he also understands human nature. Our sinful human nature leans towards returning the same ill feelings towards those who mistreat us and to remain bitter towards them in our hearts.
Apostle Paul understands all too well what it means to be a prisoner. He knows that when we allow ourselves to harbor bitterness in response to the hostility we face from others, we will, in effect, imprison ourselves. That is why he urges us to be at peace with everyone, so far as it depends on us. How? You might ask. That is a good question, one Jesus answers in Scripture. Jesus said:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.“LUKE 6:27-28
Therefore, let us always seek to be at peace with everyone, speak in love and be respectful, and do so as it depends on us. We will encounter bitterness, but let us not share bitterness in return for anger; instead, let us extend mercy and grace wrapped in love as our heavenly Father so freely extends to us.