Read Romans 12:9-21
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (v. 18)
When it comes to family life (not to mention all relationships), the above verse is one of the most important you and I can seek to apply. It is simultaneously a call to activity and a call to relaxation; a call to do and a call to wait.
Peace is the goal towards which the Spirit of God is directing us. His desire is that we experience peace with everyone: peace with a spouse, peace with children, peace with parents, peace with siblings, peace with grandparents, peace with extended family members…peace with everyone. Peace is much more enjoyable than tension. Being able to converse with another person is preferable to avoiding him/her. Having a real smile in an encounter is better than one artificially pasted on. God wants genuine heartfelt concern rather than the fake, “how are you?” when we don’t really care. Peace is the goal.
With that as the goal, God calls us to activity. We are to do everything we can to pursue peace. When tension, conflict, and disagreement arise, we are called to action. What will that look like? It could be any number or combination of things. Give up the avoidance. Let the other person know how much you were hurt. Apologize for what you said. Forgive from your heart. Those are just a sampling of possible responses. The key, however, is that you do your part. Don’t necessarily wait for the other person to make the move.
But then here comes the relaxation part. When you have done all that you know to do…all that you can do…all that the Spirit of God prompts you to do, you can put your head on your pillow in peace. Words like “if it is possible” and “as far as it depends on you” make clear that there is more to experiencing family peace than just your response. You cannot control how a family member responds to your peacemaking efforts. When you have done your part, you can wait, pray…and relax.
With whom do you need to take action? Are there relational tensions, where you, having done all that you can, need to stop trying to control and start to relax?