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Intro: Read Romans 12:17-18 – 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Before we discuss vs. 18, consider the preceding one. These verses present a new consideration. What is my responsibility toward those of the world? How should the Christian act toward the unbeliever? Although the scriptures provide a comprehensive answer to these questions, consider the important thoughts here:
I. “Have Regard for Good Things in the Sight of All Men” – The prominent versions give different views of this phrase.
- Provide things honest in the sight of all men. – KJV
- Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. – NIV
- Respect what is right in the sight of all men. – NASU
- Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. – NLT
A. “Good things” – Paul’s words here seem to come from Proverbs 3:4 – (Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. NIV) The wise man enjoins love and faithfulness (trustworthiness) as a means of finding favor among others. The context supports the idea that Paul is commanding honorable conduct or behavior (good things”) that is always respected by others.
1. The Pulpit Commentary puts it this way… “We are not only to do what we know to be right in the sight of God, but also to have regard to the view that will be taken of our conduct by other men; we must not give any just cause for our good being evil spoken of”
2. Paul defended his own blameless actions in regards to the collection of the money for the poor saints in Judea in 2 Cor 8:20-21 – 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men. (NIV) Some might wonder why Paul should care what men thought, as long as he acted appropriately in the sight of the Lord. After all, he was no man-pleaser. But neither was he unconcerned about what men thought; these unbelievers were the ones he was trying to reach with the gospel. He could not allow his enemies to make any false accusations that might discredit and bring suspicion on him before the watching world and hinder his preaching of the gospel.
a. In this verse Paul uses the phrase, providing for honest things (KJV) which indicates a principled approach to our conduct. We decide ahead of time to do the right thing always. What is your reputation among those of the world? Do you take pains to do what is right in the sight of others?
II. “Live peaceably with all men” – Who among us doesn’t want peace? It is a universal good, which everyone seeks. As such, everyone has an opinion or perspective on peace.
- In the hearts of people today there is a deep longing for peace. – Albert Schweitzer
- Peace is not something you wish for, it is something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away. – Robert Fulghum
- Our goal must not be peace in our time but peace for all time. – Harry S. Truman
- Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. – Martin Luther King
- Peace is its own reward. – Ganghi
- What all men are really after is some form, or perhaps only some formula, of peace. – Joseph Conrad
- Peace is that brief glorious moment in time when everyone stands around reloading. – unknown author
A. Biblical Peace is not:
- Just the absence of conflict: The Jewish term “shalom” carries the idea of wholeness or personal well-being that comes from a right relationship with God.
- Peace at any price: True peace does not come through compromise with evil – It is not a negotiated peace.
- Avoiding the issue: True peace does not come by saying, “we won’t talk about this anymore”. Ignoring strife is not the same as peace.
B. Biblical Peace is:
- the product of God’s wisdom – James 3:17-18- 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
- The product of God’s Righteousness: John MacArthur says peace is “…the presence of righteousness that causes right relationships” (MacArthur, p.137). It denotes one “who brings reconciliation between opposing parties” (Guelich, p. 91). Peace is more than just stopping war (truce); it is creating righteousness which brings enemies together in love.Peace is lost because of sin; the only way to restore peace is to deal with and eliminate the sin that disrupted it in the first place. Thus peace is inherently connected with righteousness and is rooted in God’s victory over sin. Colossians 1:20 – 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Romans 5:1 – 5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, NKJV
C. Peace as Our Goal: Jesus called us to be “peacemakers” in Matthew 5:9 and connects this spiritual trait with being the children of God. As God creates peace where there is none, so He expects His children to make peace in an unpeaceful world.
1. 1 Peter 3:10-12 10 For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. Peter instructs Christians to pursue peace. This means to aggressively seek it. It is to be more than just a by-product of our decisions. We must be motivated to do things that will create peace where there is none.
2. Col 3:12-15 – Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
a. True peace cannot exist apart from forbearance and forgiveness and love (seeking what is best for another.)
b. The word for ” rule” was used to describe the activity of an umpire in deciding the outcome of an athletic contest. The peace of Christ guides believers in making decisions.
3. “If it is possible” – The instruction to be at peace with others is conditioned upon the objective possibility of making peace. Paul is not excusing those who think that making peace is too difficult (“as much as lies within you“) There are two considerations here:
a. Peace may not be possible because truth is at stake. Peace with some people may not be possible without compromising or recanting the truth God has revealed. In this sense Jesus said “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. – (Matt 10:34)
b. Peace may not be possible because the other person(s) will not allow it. Whether between nations or individuals, peace is two-way. By definition, a peaceful relationship cannot be one-sided.
c. Our responsibility is to make sure that we are not the unpeaceful one. Our side of the relationship must be right and we cannot be the one causing the conflict.
- some unredeemed people will not allow peace – (it is foolish to climb into a tiger’s cage) But we are not rattle the cage. (Nabal & David – He was a worthless man who would not listen to reason. But David displayed an unpeaceful spirit when he sought to avenge himself. When Abigail interceded and talked David out of destroying Nabal David said… “And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand. 34 For indeed, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has kept me back from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!” 35 So David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her,”Go up in peace to your house. See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person.” (1 Sam 25:33-35)
- What if I cannot make peace with those who oppose me? That is the question that Paul addresses n the remaining verses of Romans 12. How a Christian responds to evil (and evil people) is a defining character trait. We will look closer at this later.
Conclusion: God’s commands make for peace – with God, other Christians, and some in the world. In the context of Romans 12:18 what can we do to live at peaceably with others?
- Be kind – affectionate (v. 10)
- Help others in need ; be hospitable (13)
- Bless and do not curse those who persecute you (14)
- Rejoice and weep with others (15)
- Be humble toward others (16)
- Do not seek revenge (17)
- Over come evil with good (21)
Are you a peacemaker? Are you the kind of person that resolves problems or creates them? Being peaceful defines us as citizens of God’s kingdom:
- Romans 14:17-19 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Our actions are to be toward peace because the Kingdom (rulership) of God is not just concerned with what we eat or drink but with righteousness, joy and peace. These are the things that the Spirit of God will produce in us.
- Immediately following Paul’s explicit commands concerning marking the rebellious brother in 2 Thess 3 – he prays “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
Have you made peace with God?