November 20, 2012
Plan for Peace
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 recently read the story of a young reporter who approached an older gentleman on his 100th birthday.
"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?” the young reporter asked.
"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. Tough relationships are a certainty in life. 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 is possible, live peaceably with all men.” In other words, 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 come with a set agenda that targets emotional eruptions and creates constant relationship upheavals. They love a good fight, live to evoke angry reactions and are fierce warriors determined to win every battle initiated by their downright irritating personalities. However, 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!" (Author unknown)
The world has its own system for working out conflict. That system is retaliation. God has a different plan for working out conflict. That plan is restoration. The apostle Paul was a master at conflict resolution and 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 in our lives:
"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 that your least favorite relatives are coming for a week and you are already dreading their visit. Make the decision right 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?
Proverbs 16:7 (ESV) “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
"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 difficultones. All we have to focus on is making sure our ways are pleasing to the Lord and He will do the rest. Now that is a great plan for peace!
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. Give me the strength to wage peace when what I really want to do is wage war. Today, I choose to surrender my stubborn will to You. I lay down my emotional weapons and choose peace. Be glorified in my relationships, Father. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
When our daughter, Danna, was a little girl, she loved to shop ... for any reason. One day, when I picked her up from school, she hopped in the car and exclaimed, "Mom, it is going to snow tonight!" I started laughing because I had already checked the weather and snow was nowhere in the forecast. "Danna, it is going to be in the 50s tonight. I hardly think we need to prepare for snow." Danna's immediate response was, "But don't you think we should go shopping - just in case?"
We need to plan for peace. The characteristics that we wear or "bring" to relationships will determine the level of peace in those relationships. Peace makes the decision to resolve conflict before conflict comes. Paul lists the characteristics we need to cultivate personally in order to have right relationships filled with peace. On a scale of one to five, how are you doing in each area when it comes to dealing with the difficult people in your life?
1 = Awful
5 = Awesome
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
"I am flat broke and Christmas is just around the corner!" Do those words sound familiar? Don't let gift-giving become a chore instead of a joy. Get Mary’s MP3 download - Giving the Perfect Gift-and discover how to give ten wonderful and inexpensive gifts.
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