Outdoor - Where Did The Time Go?
What Does Being at Peace with Others Really Mean?
By Stephanie Reck, LMSW, LBT, BCCC
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even His enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7
I am a passionate person. My first response when someone hurts or offends me is to react in an angry way, usually through the words I speak. There have also been times when I did nothing just to “keep the peace.” But what God has been teaching me through these instances is there is a way to have TRUE peace with the person(s) who have done things to hurt me by:
1. Watch what you speak. When you are hurt, frustrated or angry, a natural impulse is to lash out with your tongue. I’ve been guilty of this, and found there is always negative consequences when I’ve 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 and 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.
2. 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 are not a true Christian. Never fight “fire with fire.”
3. 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 you remember what that person has done to you, and at this point you have two choices: Take revenge and retaliate in some way OR choose to not be offended and forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean automatic reconciliation, but it does mean you are not going to 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.
4. Sometimes you can overlook an offense or hurtful behavior, but when these actions are done repeatedly it is time to confront your offender with a humble and peaceful attitude. Don’t confront someone when you’re angry or if you fear losing your cool; wait until you have the 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 of a peaceful resolution or repentance.
You might 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 opportunity 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-controlled. He does not want me to “run and hide” or get so angry that I take matters into my own hands.
5. 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.
It can be difficult to maintain true peace. I have failed many times and am still learning how to respond the way Christ wants me to. When you fail in this area, seek God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, and learn from the experience. Jesus is the best teacher, and if you don’t get things right the first time, He will teach you again.
Contact Stephanie through www.StephanieReck.com