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What Does Being at Peace with Others Really Mean?
by stephanie reck
4/10/2019 / Christian Living
I am a passionate person; I love deeply and I hurt deeply. My first response when someone hurts or offends me is to react in an angry way, usually through the words I speak. There have been times that when someone has hurt or offended me, I did nothing just to “keep the peace.” What God has been teaching me through many instances of being hurt and offended by others is there is a way to have true peace with the person(s) who have done things to hurt me.
True peace is not denial and it is not pretending nothing has happened, this only leads to resentment and bitterness. This kind of peace can only come from the Holy Spirit, our flesh is not capable of producing peace between “enemies.”
How can you have true peace between others who have hurt or offended you?
- The most difficult and probably one of the most important things you can do is to watch what you speak. When you are hurt, frustrated or angry, a natural impulse is to lash out with your tongue. I have been guilty of doing this, and I have found there is always negative consequences when I have spoken harmfully into a situation or about a person. As difficult as it is, we should guard the words we speak. We will give an account for every idle word spoken one day. We should confess this as sin and turn from using our mouths as destructive forces. We have the ability to speak life or death, blessings or curses, choose to speak what will edify and build-up not tear-down.
- Don’t take revenge or retaliate with words or your actions. When you retaliate it gives the enemy “fuel for the fire.” The enemy will “egg you on” to take revenge, but after you do, he will accuse you of being no different, that you can’t be a true witness for Christ, or that you or not a true Christian. Never fight “fire with fire.”
- It’s okay to get angry at the hurtful actions done to you by others, but not to stay angry. Take up your anger with God and daily ask the Holy Spirit to help you to forgive that person. There will be times that you will remember what that person has done to you, at this point you will have two choices: Take revenge or retaliate in some way or choose to not be offended again and choose to “let them off the hook.” Forgiveness does not mean automatic reconciliation, but it does mean you are not going hold the offense against them, whether that person deserves it or if they even asked to be forgiven. This is the tough part, and can only be done with the Holy Spirit’s strength.
- Sometimes you can overlook an offense or hurtful behavior, but when these actions are done repeatedly to you it is time to confront your offender with a humble and peaceful attitude. Do not confront someone when you are angry or feel you may lose your cool, wait until you have guidance of the Holy Spirit as well as self-control. The goal with confrontation is to inform the offender of their hurtful actions towards you with the hope it will give the offender a chance to explain their position and to repent when needed. There are times you have to wait to confront an offender if they are hostile, defensive or aggressive towards you, wait and continue to pray that God would give you an opponent to speak or write them a letter. Sometimes God steps in and takes care of the situation for us, but what I am finding to be true for me is He wants me to be bold, fearless, courageous, and self-conrolled in the midst of those who have hurt or offended me. He does not want me to “run and hide” or get so angry that I take matters into my own hands.
- Pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44), those that hurt and offend you, especially the ones who repeatedly do this. Praying for your enemies will soften your heart towards them. Everyone has enemies, we either will fight back or flee. Both are natural responses, however neither works in the long run and Jesus does teach a different way.
I realize how difficult it can be to maintain true peace between you and someone who has offended or hurt you. I have failed many times in this area, and I am still learning how to respond the way Christ wants me to. You may not do things perfectly every time, but God knows your heart. Guard your heart from offense, anger, unforgiveness and bitterness.
When you fail in this area, seek God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, and learn from the experience. Ask yourself, “What lessons did I learn from “blowing up” at someone, speaking negatively when I was offended by someone or by running away from a situation I should have confronted?” Jesus is the best teacher, and if you don’t get things right the first time, He will teach you again.
Reflect: When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even His enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7
What would be pleasing to the Lord in the situations with your enemies? Fight, flee, retaliate, take revenge, speak negatively about them, continue to allow yourself to be offended by them, withhold forgiveness, or express anger or hostility towards them. If you want ways to please the Lord, pretty much do the opposite of what I just listed as well as pray for your enemies and do good to them, this could be speaking blessings over them or doing a kind act.
What I am finding in my life with the people who have hurt or offended me, is that it’s not so much about them but the refining work that Jesus is doing in me to make me more like Him.
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