Jump Start # 3064
Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
Our verse today is found in the midst of trouble. The previous verse says, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone…” The verse that follows our verse today says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God…” The setting isn’t one of fond memories. Evil, revenge, pay backs, wrath—things were stirred up and the saints of God were troubled. Someone has hurt them. Jesus wants the golden rule. We want to smack the person back.
Hollywood has been buzzing ever since the Oscars when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock for a joke that seemed to go to far. Some are supporting what happened. Others are outraged. A poor example was set before the world. Few people even watch the Oscar ceremonies any more. Most couldn’t tell you much about this year’s show other than “the slap in the face.” That won’t go away, nor will it be forgotten. Some are demanding that Will Smith’s Oscar be taken from him. The person who tries to do that might get slapped!
All of this presents a setting for us for our verse. Let’s put some thought to this:
First, if possible. That’s conditional. Sometimes it’s not possible. Russia isn’t interested in talking peace. They want Ukraine. Wars happen. Fights take place. Friendships end. And, the reason is, some are not interested in doing what is right. Some do not want peace. Some want war. Some want their way.
Second, so far as it depends on you. This puts us in the driver’s seat. Rather than pointing our finger at the other person and saying, ‘I’m only reacting to the way he treated me,’ we must take the lead. As far as it depends upon you. If you can have peace, have it.
Now, this means, I’m going to let some things slide by without a response, comment or rebuttal. You can engage in every single skirmish that comes your way and you may lose the war. You may lose your reputation. You may kill your influence. You may not ever be considered a gentle person, nor one with a kind heart, as the Lord wants. And, in the end, you might even lose your soul. Every disagreement, every opinion, every thing you don’t like, if are you there voicing your objections, you will have violated this passage. We know co-workers who are just like this. They jump in other people’s arguments just because they thrive on controversy and stirring things up. They like to be heard. Loud, obnoxious, and out of place, everyone knows them. So there will be things people say, even brethren, and I will let it go. It’s not the time, it’s not the place, and it won’t result in peace. And, in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.
The “possible” and the “depends on you” are understood to deal with personal battles and not digression from God’s Word. Error has no toleration. We do not put up with Satan for a moment. There comes a time to speak out, draw the line in the sand, and let the chips fall, because we stand with the Lord. That’s not within the context here. Here, it’s something that someone says to me. It’s something outside the Bible. It’s politics. It’s economy. It’s masks. It’s things I like and things I don’t like. It’s not even advice. Evil, revenge, paying back all points to someone hurting you in some way. What happened may have bruised your feelings. It may have stepped on your pride. It may have angered you. You were excluded and not invited. Gossip does this.
We all know the expression, “pushing buttons.” Kids are good at that. They know just how to get mom upset. Some excel in that. There are adults that like to push buttons. There are brethren that like to push our buttons. Will we continue to fellowship? Will we continue to be in unity? Will I make a big deal out of no deal. So, some careless and thoughtless person said something unkind. Can you be at peace? So, you were overlooked, again. Can you be at peace?
It takes a big person with a Christ-like character to not let all those things eat at us. We preachers have to have thick skin and egos that can be stepped on. Otherwise, most of us would have quit long ago.
Third, be at peace with all men. For this to happen, one must let go and not file the hurts in your memory bank. The longer we stew upon those things, the worse we feel and the more we feel like declaring war rather than being at peace. As long as we continue to think about, tell others about, and dwell upon the hurts done to us, we will never be at peace. Our insides will be upset. We must remember, early in the Lord’s sermon, He blessed those who were peacemakers. Many love peace. Some want peace. We need peace. But to make peace, means in an environment where peace doesn’t exist, it is created. Contextually, Jesus is driving at our peace with God. We cannot have an outward peace until there is an upward peace. Peace must be vertical before it can be horizontal.
Peacemakers…that’s a tough role to play. Some irritate because they want trouble. When you let it go and you give it to the Lord, you are the better person.
Will Smith apologized for the Oscar slap. Yet, the world won’t let this rest. That’s the trouble with trouble. It doesn’t go away quietly.
If possible, as far as it depends upon you…great challenge God puts before us.