This verse is very specific in two points. The first relates to our responsibility in potentially volatile interactions. We are the only person that can control our own emotions, and what rests on us here in this verse is the obligation and charge to live at peace with others. The other point is that we can’t pick and chose who we live at peace with, for it states here we are to live peaceable with all human beings to the very best of our ability.
You’ve probably heard the old saying…If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Oh that we would take that to heart the next time we’re frustrated or angry and our children are close enough to hear us. Careless words confuse and at times frighten children, even when the words are directed at a car that just cut you off or at your spouse. For children feel the angry emotions and then can mistakenly blame themselves for your outburst…even if they had nothing to do with it. ( Interestingly enough, I’ve found this reaction to parental bickering does not go away with age). Romans 14:19 reminds us, ” Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.”
In this contentious and ever argumentative world, it’s difficult to seek peace in every situation. But the key here is found in a verse in Hebrews 12:14, ” Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy.” Being holy means we live in a spiritual atmosphere where grace and mercy abounds despite the hostile environment around us. It’s where we consider others before ourselves and strive to be a peacemaker not a rabble-rouser.