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10th February: Living at Peace

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18

Very nice, too, but what about people who really get on our nerves? Most of us could compile a little list -- people we have to live with or work with, perhaps in hospital, like that bossy ward sister, that critical or (worse still) patronising administrator, that impossible senior surgeon (ugh!), that inept junior. They'd none of them be missed, as it says in The Mikado. But Paul says we should live at peace with them -- so far as it depends on us, or as much as lies in us (AV). His qualification is interesting and provides the sort of `back door' we like to have (but not abuse). Paul probably needed it himself sometimes. He was a very positive person.

Moreover, there are occasions when peace at any price is not good enough. Those occasions will not be when our own personal pride or dignity is affronted. The Lord Jesus did not care about that sort of thing. Nor should we. But it may be right and necessary to fight when the interests of another person are at stake -- a patient for whom we have responsibility, a vulnerable junior member of staff, someone who is the victim of malicious gossip.

Even here, of course, there are ways and ways of doing it. The soft manner (Pr 15:1) can be more effective than the cutting comment that gives us malicious pleasure. Love is always part of the requirement. Jeremy Taylor said three centuries ago, `It is no great matter to live lovingly with good-natured, with humble and meek persons; but he that can do so with the forward, with the wilful, and the ignorant, with the peevish and perverse, he only hath true charity'. Happily, as C S Lewis says, loving our neighbours does not necessarily means thinking them nice. There are much better approaches, such as William Law's advice: `There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him'. And just another thought: could it possibly be that other people find it difficult to live peaceably with us?

Give to me, Lord, the grace to be patient as you were
patient; that I may bear with the faults of others, and
strive at all times to root out my own.

Further reading: Rom 12:14-21.

RRW

Christian Medical Fellowship:
uniting & equipping Christian doctors & nurses
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