15 Practices toward living at peace with others. From a recent sermon. I did make the point then that 80% (or some high percentage, I forgot) of living at peace with others is being at peace with God and being at peace with yourself (in the way I described).
- Constantly study and grapple with how to accept criticism – this is a theme in the book of Proverbs and it just makes sense. A lot of conflict comes in the wake of criticism. Identify and avoid the old predictable tricks: coolness, distancing, retreat, well, you have this problem etc etc. Let your reasonableness be known to all.
- Be able to apologize – be willing and quick to humble yourself and admit that you misunderstood, mishandled, overreacted, underreacted, manipulated – you do believe that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, right?
- Refrain from playing the psychologist and stating the motives behind people’s actions – this is the province of God and the Apostles. We’re better off dealing with people’s actions, one by one.
Don’t think along these lines:
- I know why you’re doing this – it’s because of what happened in your childhood… let’s talk about your childhood.
- You republicans all act the same – and you know Ronald Reagan wasn’t all that great of a president.
- Of course you’re going to say that, you’re a Millennial. Are you going to start talking about self care and mental days next?
- Refrain from gossip & slander. Keep the discussion about any conflict in the light of day. Discuss as little as possible with as few people as possible. Make sure those few people are connected to a possible solution. Especially, don’t make your home a place of backbiting and complaint.
- Don’t take a dog by its ears – Proverbs 26:17 – Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. We think: If I could just jump in and you could hear my wisdom all your problems will be over. No – Resist the temptation to be a hero.
- Be a man of peace. When our Lord and Elder Brother lived among men he sent out his followers to different villages. He told them to look for a man of peace –someone who was generally open and responsive and polite and willing to help. The opposite would be someone who defaults to cynicism, suspects that everything is a power play, employs a hermeneutic of suspicion as he interprets the world. These kinds of people (the antitheses of the man of peace) are always are looking for the underbelly of things. They are good at poking holes, sneering. Rather, as the Apostle Paul says: Let your reasonableness be known to all. It should be obvious that we’re gentle, slow to speak, slow to anger, willing to concede, open to another way of looking at things. We have this tendency to implicitly or explicitly set up ultimatums – this is my opinion about what direction we should go and if you don’t agree you’re dead to me.
- While we’re next to the subject, let’s quote a related Proverb using several different translations. Proverbs 22:24
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
do not associate with one easily angered,
Keep away from angry, short-tempered men, lest you learn to be like them and endanger your soul.
Don’t hang out with angry people;
don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—
don’t get infected.
If you’re dating someone and he talks about how his parents haven’t been good parents, you should think, hmm. Then when he says that his boss is always overlooking him, think hmmmm. Then when he says that he had to leave his last two churches because of the mean people, say hmmmmmmmm. Then when you get onto his Twitter feed or Facebook page and he’s dipped his feet in one controversy after another, RUN.
- Keep yourself exposed to Proverbs. Because then, you’ll constantly be in a manual of peaceableness. You’ll come up to tools of peacemaking that you might have overlooked. For instance: Proverbs 21:14 says, “A gift in secret subdues anger and a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.” Ah, yes, we think, I need to go buy some things.
- Listen to the other side and learn how to present the other’s point of view – does this ever take work and quiet and time! Think about someone whom you disagree with – about religion, about politics, about something inter-relational, about a point of theology. Could you state his case so that he would say at the end, yes, that’s what I think? Of course this hearing all sides takes time and a lot of being slow to speak and quick to hear.
- Forgive and be open to forgiveness – If someone asks for forgiveness of course we’ll grant it right away. And even until there’s that request, even though we can’t officially forgive them, we labor to keep the channels open and keep ourselves in a state of being open and ready for restoration.
- Show perfect courtesy to all people – to ALL PEOPLE, even those whom you are in conflict with. Do you see, you could think to yourself, I’m not going to be a hypocrite – I’m not going to act like we’re buddies – say hello, shake his hand, ask about his family – if I don’t feel any warmth toward him. Where’s the authenticity in that? But here’s the thing: are we trying to be true to our feelings, or be true to the Word of God.? Brothers and sisters, there is always a perfect case for civility and warmth.
- Come to church to get reminders – Peacemaking is a skill that needs constant sharpening. We can’t just be told once but need remindings – like this: Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
- Follow the rule of Matthew 18 – if there is a problem, go to that person. If there’s not an adequate response take one or two mature believers and meet together again. It could be determined that there’s nothing to see here, that the fault is yours. In the multitude of counselors there’s safety. And then go from there. But there’s a process, and the process takes time, and there’s nothing violent going on.
- Be proactive. I struggle with this one. Our Savior said that if we come to worship and perceive that our brother has something against us – go and make things right. The congregation in the letter to Hebrews is told: See to it that…no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
I struggle with this one I think because I’m a westerner and I like to think that I’m not a modern, and because I’m a little lazy. My reaction when I see people at odds toward me is, they’ll get over it. Live and let live. Let people sort out their stuff on their own. I don’t want to get all touchy-feely with them.
Tonia wants to talk over a problem that we’re having. And my Clint Eastwood feeling is, Talk is cheap. Talk is for the womenfolk. We’ll either get out of this bad patch on our own, or we won’t. But let things take their own course.
But here we have instruction to be on the alert for fraying relationships, and even if we don’t bear any ill feelings, we should proactively see what we can do to mend things. Go to them. Is everything alright?
Yes, we’ll think: They’ll see right through what you’re doing. In initiating the encounter you’ll look like you’re admitting wrong. You’ll come off as needy, a little desperate. How saccharine.
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
- Pray to the God of peace –
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.