The holiday season is traditionally considered a time of peace and harmony. Unfortunately, human relationships don’t always work out the way we want them to, which leaves us looking for peace in places where relationships have become strained for any number of reasons. Creating peaceful relationships with others is a challenging concept, but it is certainly something that can be done. One of the most important themes in Scripture involves relationships with other people. Discover how to cultivate peace today.
Matthew 5:9 (NLT)
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
The emphasis placed on “peace on earth” is only amplified during the holiday season. During a time of year when many of us are making plans to spend time with family members and friends, having healthy, positive relationships with other people is perhaps even more important than it is any other time of year. However, creating peace within your relationships isn’t something that always comes easily.
In the verse that we just read from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about the blessings of God associated with “working for peace.” Depending on the translation of the Bible that you read, this verse may read, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” While the terminology may change slightly, the overall message of Matthew 5:9 remains the same. God blesses those who work to create peace between themselves and others.
We often think of peace as something that just happens. If we avoid confrontation, we think peace will just be the natural byproduct. If we make sure to avoid certain topics such as politics and religion during Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, we believe that we are “keeping the peace” between ourselves and others. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with steering clear of topics that may result in an argument during an otherwise happy celebration, the concept of creating peace goes much deeper than avoiding “taboo” topics.
The fact that Jesus said that God blesses those who “work for peace” indicates that we’re not meant to be passive onlookers who just hope that peace happens. Instead, this verse paints a picture of God’s people actively working to cultivate peace between us and others. When we stop looking at peace as something that just happens and begin viewing it as something that we are called to create, we can begin creating Godly relationships in our lives.
Instead of assuming that peace is something that simply comes about, we can truly experience peace in our relationships with others. If you’re feeling apprehensive about your holiday gatherings because you’re not sure about how peaceful things can really be, begin applying some of these principles now. Doing so will allow you to experience the blessings of God associated with working for peace. Not only will you be blessed by your Heavenly Father, but you will also find yourself engaged in healthy relationships with others.
Peace is Produced by Love
Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”
One of the greatest ways that we can create peace in our relationships is to truly love other people the way that Christ has called us to love them. In the verses before the passage that we just read, one of the religious leaders of the day asked Jesus which of Moses’ laws were most important. They were hoping to catch Him up in a blasphemous statement. Of course, catching Christ up in anything was impossible.
He began by pointing out the importance of loving God with everything that we have within us. However, He built on that point by saying that we are called to love others with the same type of love that we show ourselves. Not only did Christ say that we’re supposed to love others, but He also equated the love that we show others with the love that we have for God! “The second is equally important” means that God’s expectation of us loving others means just as much to Him as our love for Him.
When you love others the way that you love yourself, it’s impossible to do passively. Instead, it takes love from being a noun to being a verb, an action word. When you’re trying to figure out how to create peace between yourself and others, think about how you can love those people more effectively. This doesn’t mean that you agree with everything they say or do, but it does mean that you care as much about their happiness and wellbeing as you do your own.
Being Honest with Yourself
Ephesians 4:31 (NLT)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Before you can cultivate peace with others, you must have an honest conversation with yourself about your personal thoughts and feelings regarding them. The internal dialog that you have with yourself concerning the people who you need to create peace with will largely dictate how successful you are.
There is an ancient fable about a king who once put a boulder in the middle of a busy roadway. Once the boulder was in place, the king hid in the bushes to the side of the road to see how people would respond to the obstacle.
Some of his wealthiest merchants and military leaders came to the boulder and complained about the King not keeping the roadway clear before walking around it. Finally, a poor man who was carrying a load of vegetables came to the boulder and worked to move it. Once he had finally pushed the large stone out of the road, he returned to pick up his vegetables and found a small pouch filled with gold coins. The King rewarded his commitment to make the change that needed to be made.
If you have anger and bitterness in your heart towards someone else, there is a boulder in your path. However, there is a reward associated with removing the boulder and moving on with your life.
Ephesians 4:31 (NLT)
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Forgiveness is hard. Most of us have a natural inclination to hold grudges against people that we believe has wronged us in the past. Unfortunately, this can include the people who you are going to be around during this holiday season. However, we are called to extend the same kind of forgiveness to others that God has extended to us. This doesn’t mean that you allow yourself to be abused and mistreated. Instead, it simply means that you release yourself from the burden of unforgiveness. When you choose to forgive someone else, you’re not setting them free. Instead, you’re allowing yourself to be free from the weight of bitterness and pain.
In most cases, our lack of peace with other people can be traced back to one or more events. Maybe you had an argument with someone in your family years ago, and hurtful words were said. If you’re still carrying the weight of that unforgiveness with you, it’s impossible for you to cultivate peace with that individual.
If you notice, none of the things that we’ve discussed when trying to learn how to create peace involve changing someone else. Instead, creating peace between yourself and others is about allowing the Holy Spirit to change you. The key to working for peace isn’t found in the behavior of others. Instead, it is an inward-focused process that involves you allowing yourself to change.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me to cultivate peace in the relationships in my life, even in those that have been damaged in the past. Help me to love others the same way that I love You and myself. Help me to release any bitterness and forgive others the way that You have forgiven me. In Christ’s name, Amen.