If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
Let’s face it, the saints aren’t always easy to live with. If they were, St. Paul would not have to give us the instruction above from the book of Romans. They gossip and brag, complain and criticize (sins of the tongue are so easy to come by). They can be stubborn, impatient, hypocritical and unreliable. Some have personalities that just don’t jive with our own– maybe they seem blunt, controlling, demanding or unreasonable. These things are all part of our “sinner” nature.
Funny, isn’t it, that Paul doesn’t tell us to change them He also doesn’t tell us to give up and leave the church. He tells us to be peaceful within ourselves. What does that mean? Here are some ideas:
- Empathize with others as human beings. You don’t always know what sort of day, or life, another person has been enduring.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. Something that offends you may not have been intended in the way you understood it.
- Don’t respond in anger. You’ll probably regret it later. Take time to cool down before you speak.
- If you are truly upset by something another said or did, go and talk to them privately and nonconfrontationally. You may be surprised at the results.
- Remember that everyone isn’t like you (my husband tells me this all the time!). We all have different levels of spiritual maturity, different priorities, life experiences and interests.
- Remember your own sins. I know I have my full share of irritating habits, so I should be willing to forgive as I have been forgiven, by other people and by God.
- Finally (and I should have put this first), pray. Don’t ask God to change the person, but pray that they would be blessed, and that you will come to love and understand them. Then leave them (and your hurt or anger) in God’s hands.
These are some things that have helped me, but I’d like to hear from others. What are your strategies for living with the saints?