By, Blandy Mendoza
Repay no one evil for evil. Have[e] regard for good things in the sight of all men.
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Romans 12: 17-18
What do you think of when you read that phrase? I think of two young friends or siblings getting along nicely while playing together in a calm and serene environment. Maybe they are outside in the yard, laughing, skipping and playing ball; or maybe in their rooms sharing their dolls and creating a whole world of make believe with smiles and laughter. All parents know the joy of those moments and we cherish them for the whole 2 minutes that they actually last!
What about the phrase: “Does not play well with others”. Have you ever gotten a call or note from your child’s school letting you know that little Johnny is having a hard time playing with others and mom & dad must have a talk with him at home or he will continue to be placed in time out?
Many of us are well beyond our formative years, yet sometimes we still have a hard time “playing well with others”. When you’re a child it may even seem “cute” to mope in the corner over a toy that someone else has, or have a poochie lip and crossed arms in protest to not being the first in line. But when you are well passed the “age of innocence,” it isn’t cute anymore. Who corrects us now?
As a pastor’s wife, it is almost in the job description to be able to “play well with others”. In reality, this comes down to our ability to form and maintain godly relationships. We are there to love, accept and serve others. Even if they don’t love, accept or serve us back. We have the beautiful privilege of leading ministries, mentoring younger women, and cultivating deep and meaningful relationships. So what happens when all of that “others” work gets hard? How do we respond when those deep relationships let us down, those ministries don’t flourish because of someone with a carnal spirit, or maybe even literal hatred and strife stir up among the very people we love & serve? What do we do then?
In my 18 years of ministry, God has sustained me through difficult seasons like the ones described above. He has done so through a specific passage that is embedded deep in my mind, and has saved me from a lot of heart-ache when applied to how I respond to others:
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
We know that we cannot control how others treat us, but what can we do that depends solely on us, and helps us to “live peaceably with all men?” Here are four practical ways that we can apply this verse to our lives.
It takes a humble person to recognize that they do not have to retaliate to any negative attitude brought against us. It takes humility to overlook the offense and cover it with grace and love because Christ first loved us. It takes humility to stay quiet when we want to speak and say something we might regret. It takes humility to reach out first, ask for forgiveness first, or yield our wants to others first so that the kingdom of God will continue to grow. The road to a joyous journey of godly relationships begins with humility.
2) Honor others
It takes a woman who knows how to honor others for who they are now and for who they will become in the future to continue to cultivate growing relationships. We are to look at those in our lives as people whom God has created with special gifts, talents, abilities, and flaws. We honor the good qualities, but we must also honor the fact that just like He’s still working on us, He is also still working on them -- flaws and all! Honor the individual process that God is using with each person in our lives, and you will see fruit in due time.
This hope is a practical hope. It is a hope that says: “Although I don't understand why this particular relationship is strained at the moment, Lord I place my hope in your will, and your promises of reconciliation one day. I do not place my hope in my abilities to win this relationship or person over, but in your perfect timing.” It’s a hope that knows God is working in a particular situation even though we can’t see it. It is spiritual optimism, and it helps build our faith!
4) Holy Spirit power
The fourth component to peaceable relationships is strengthening our walk with the Holy Spirit. If what lies within us is the power of the Holy Spirit, then we have all we need to live peaceably with others, even when the going gets tough. The Holy Spirit holds our tongue when we want to lash out, He guides our words through difficult conversations. He convicts us if we are prone to gossip or slander our neighbor, and he gives us the strength to confront others in love, to offer forgiveness, or accept forgiveness freely. A woman who is led by the power of the Holy Spirit is a woman who will inevitably play well with others.
As much as depends on me, I can cultivate humility. I can honor others. I can hope in God’s timing to restore relationships, and I can strengthen my walk with the Holy Spirit so that he would guide my thoughts, words and actions toward others. How pleasing this must be to our Heavenly Father.