“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14).
No one is immune from conflicts in relationships. Virtually all of us have experienced the hurt that often causes intense pain within interpersonal relationships. Needless to say, living in unity with others is not an easy issue. Remember, there is a price to be paid to live at peace with others. Healthy relationships are not built automatically but with great effort.
The Lord once taught me a wonderful lesson regarding the price I have to pay for preserving peace in relationships. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, one day, I hurriedly got on the bed to sleep. Before going further, I must say that my wife is known for cleanliness. She usually surprises the guests with her neatest house. Because my wife was carrying the child, she could not do much of the house work as she was physically weak. That was the time I was disciplined to become a family man. So when I got on the bed, my wife requested me to do a small task. She politely told me to wash the vessels before I go to sleep (usually, in India, to wash the dishes is below the dignity of a man).
Now it was winter season and I was feeling cold and a bit lazy to get up. I told her I will wash the dishes the next morning. She however insisted to wash before going to sleep because to leave the vessels unwashed throughout the night would create a stench in the kitchen. I argued with her that I will wash in the morning and right away went to sleep. The next day I got up to do the house work. As I was washing the vessels, the Lord brought a Scripture to my mind and it was so enlightening.
The lesson I learned that day was an unforgettable experience. The Lord reminded of the Scripture in Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men.” Last night I went to sleep without having peace with my wife. Had I taken little effort to get up to wash the vessels I could have possessed great peace with her and prayed together before going to sleep. Paul said to the Roman saints, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:19).
Notice, it is not written, “Desire to live at peace with others.” There are many who desire and talk a lot about living at peace and in unity without making any effort. I have learned that in living a Christian life it takes effort, pain and denial of self in order to be at peace with others. Forgiveness, patience, generosity, humility and grace signify denial of self in our love for others. In the original Greek, “make every effort”, could also mean, "to seek after eagerly; earnestly endeavor to acquire; by implication, to suffer persecution.”
To be at peace with others requires earnest pursuance and even a will to suffer. To get into conflict is very easy, but to live at peace is extremely difficult. Relationships crumble because of casual and flippant attitude. When we take relationships seriously and make every effort to live at peace with everyone, there is scope for healthy and prosperous relationships. To the saints in Ephesus, Paul as well exhorted, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (4:3).
Genuine relationships are built on the pathway of sacrifice. We have to pay the price to cultivate good relationships. God desired our relationship so much that He restored us back at the cost of laying His life for us on the Cross. Just think, if it cost God His life to bring us back at peace with Him, how then do we expect ourselves to be at peace with others without taking pains? If we sit coolly and expect things to work out all well, that’s not possible. Those who walk in the footsteps of our Lord will see great fruit in their relationship with others. Like God, they value relationships and therefore make every effort to be at peace with others. Note this fact—No pain, No peace.
“The process of dying to self is excruciating and we cannot bypass this path to live at peace with God and people."