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Notice Paul says we are to make this kind of wholehearted effort with “all men.” In my situation, these words “all men” meant I had to seriously attempt to live peaceably even with the ill-mannered pastor who continually upset me with his offensive behavior. The words the Holy Spirit used in this verse are unquestionable. The words “all men” is a translation of the words panton anthropon. The word panton is an all-encompassing word that means everyone. The word anthropon comes from anthropos, the Greek word that describes all of mankind, including male and female of every race, nationality, language, religion, and skin color — no one excluded. There is no phrase in Greek that could be more all encompassing than panton anthropon. It literally embraces the entire human race.

It’s important for me to point out that these words “all men” do not mean we have to agree with all people everywhere or condone their behavior. It means that if at all possible, as much as depends on us, we are to be at peace with them.

The Holy Spirit led me to Romans 12:18, which says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” This verse gave me direction. It provided helpful answers that enabled me to deal successfully with this difficult situation. And I believe the answers I received and the insight I gained will help you understand how to deal with that person who constantly rubs you the wrong way.

Notice the apostle Paul begins this verse by saying, “If it be possible.…” The word “if” in Romans 12:18 is the Greek word ei, which is like an open question with no definitive answer. That means there may be times when we run into a case in which it is not possible to have peace. As you and I are well aware, it can be very difficult to be at peace with some people — not necessarily because we are so difficult, but rather because they are hard to get along with. (But remember, they may think the same of us!) Regardless of the difficulty of the task, or the ugly behavior of those we encounter along the way in life, the command of God remains: To the best of our ability, we must give our best effort to be at peace with all men.

The word “possible” in Romans 12:18 comes from the Greek word dunaton. In this verse, it expresses the idea of something that is potentially difficult, but nonetheless doable. However, because this phrase begins with the word “if,” it casts a shadow on whether or not it is truly doable every single time. In other words, maybe peace is attainable; maybe it isn’t — but you are to give peace your best shot. For this reason, this phrase could be translated: “If it is doable — if it is feasible — if it is possible, do your utmost to be at peace with everyone.”

Paul continued to say, “…As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” The words “as much as lieth in you” comes from a mixture of Greek words that means “as far as it depends on you.” This phrase points toward you and me, placing the responsibility of maintaining peace and a good attitude on us, not on the person we find to be so offensive. This clearly means God is expecting us to do everything we can to give our best to “living peaceably with all men.”

At the very moment Paul was writing this verse, he and other Christians were facing horrible pagan and religious opposition from those who had no tolerance for “narrow-minded” believers in Jesus Christ. Yet it was at this same time that the Holy Spirit through this verse commanded them to do everything they could to live peaceably with everyone. This same divine command is directed toward us today. It doesn’t say we’re just to live peaceably with friends, family, peers, or those who agree with us and our opinions. It says that if it’s possible, we’re to live at peace with “all men.” An interpretive version of Romans 12:18 could be rendered: “If it’s doable at all, then as much as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone, no one excluded.”

This verse was so helpful to me when I was trying to learn how to get along with that ill-mannered pastor. I understood that Jesus did not expect me to be his best friend — but Jesus did expect me to give my best efforts to living peacefully in that situation. If being at peace with that other pastor meant perhaps not engaging in a lengthy conversation with him, then whatever I had to do, I was determined not to live upset with this man who had been such a source of pain and irritation to me. I had to let my grievances go, let God deal with him, and walk away from my hankering to argue with or fix or correct him. As much as it depended on me, from my side, I was going to do whatever was necessary to be at peace with him.

What about you? I know you have relationships that trouble you, as this is true of everyone. If you’re tired of getting upset or being irritated — or of unsuccessfully trying to correct those people — perhaps you should choose the route of simply seeking to be at peace. Negotiating with a difficult person is not always possible, so sometimes the best option is simply doing whatever is reasonably necessary to be at peace. This was the message the Holy Spirit spoke to me, and I believe it’s the message the Holy Spirit may be speaking to you as well.

Copyright © Rick Renner Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission

Author Biography

Rick Renner
Web site: Rick Renner Ministries
Rick and Denise met while they were each on an individual quest to wholeheartedly follow God's plan for their lives. Rick was a college student, growing in his teaching ministry. Denise was a talented vocalist. She chose not to pursue a course that held the prospect of performing with the Metropolitan Opera so that she could instead pursue a relationship with Rick and fulfill her heart's desire to enter full-time ministry.

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