We don’t always get along with those we are closest to, whether it’s those in our biological family, our church family, or our work family. Ever since sin entered the world, man has been prone to selfishness, self-protection, and self-centeredness. It’s no wonder that there are wars, fighting, crime, and discord everywhere in the world. Unfaithfulness, resentment, revenge, unkindness, and estrangement are all too common in our family relationships.
We cannot control other people’s attitudes and actions but we can control our own. Each of us can do his/her part to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. The Bible tells us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). On our own, this is practically impossible, but the Prince of Peace has not left us on our own. Those of us who have trusted Christ to be Lord and Savior have been given the Holy Spirit as a gift and a promise. His Spirit living in us is able to help us live at peace with one another.
Here are some practical tips to intentionally live at peace:
- Love others as much as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39). In fact, take it even further: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
- Believe the best of the other person instead of automatically assuming the worst. Give the benefit of the doubt. Ask for clarification instead of immediately taking offense. Use “I” statements instead of accusatory statements (“I felt humiliated when you said that to me in front of everyone”)
- Be ready to forgive, to forget, and to move past the conflict without holding on to resentments or anger. Don’t hold grudges. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Let love cover over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)
- Encourage and build others up (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13) instead of criticizing, judging, and tearing them down (James 4:11 and 5:9).
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry
- Be thoughtful and considerate. Think about what the other person is going through and look for ways to bless and encourage them instead of focusing on yourself so much. Hurting people hurt other people. Maybe the other person is acting hurtful and hateful because they themselves are wounded. Instead of perpetuating the wounding, turn the other cheek and respond gracefully
- Recognize that you are all on the same team and the enemy is the devil. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship should be a top priority. Respect the other person and his or her viewpoint. Realize there may be more than one answer or one way to do something. Be willing to compromise and to “agree to disagree”
- Realize that sometimes God puts you in difficult situations where you don’t get along because there is something to learn from one another. Our minds are all so amazingly different that conflicts come about because we don’t all think the same way, and resolving our conflicts by listening and talking to each other is a great way of learning new ways of how the human mind works and how we are all uniquely wired (thanks to my daughter-in-law Courtney for this tip!)
- Last but not least, pray for one another and with one another
“Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. They draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then they bring his love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to the conflicts of daily life.” Ken Sande in The Peacemaker—A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)