If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18 (NIV)
When my son and his family go on vacation, I take care of their fish.
There are two of them, a red one and a blue one, each about two inches long. They reside in separate tanks because if they were together, they’d attack each other.
Their clear, portable tanks have to be kept on separate counters so the fish can’t see each other. If they do, they get all puffed up, which means they’re agitated. And you don’t want agitated fish—you gotta keep peace in the fish tanks.
Not only are they unsociable, but they’re also finicky eaters and don’t like the same fish food, although they are, I believe, the same type of fish. (NOTE: My editor at the Indiana Gazette identified them as Bettas, a Siamese fighting fish.)
Bubbles, the red fish, likes the red powdery stuff that gets all over the countertop no matter how careful I am doling it out. Rob-Andrew MacHarper, my baseball nut grandson’s fish (named after his three favorite players—Roberto Clemente, Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper) will consume only freeze-dried bloodworms.
Some folks are like those fish—they get all puffed up and agitated for whatever reason and are about as approachable as a hungry piranha. When they’re in a room with someone they don’t get along with, they can get so disturbed as to attack the other person, if not physically, then verbally or mentally. They might try to keep it to themselves, but you can tell they’re agitated.
Now, I’m a peaceable person. I don’t like contention, controversy, or conflict. But I’ve learned that you can do all you can to get along with others, but sometimes it just isn’t possible.
Another person’s behavior is out of your control, but Scripture tells us to focus on what is in your control: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
“As far as it depends on you” means that I do all I can to make peace. Sometimes that means avoiding that person, asking God to place His love for them in my heart and not dwelling on things that will agitate me.
“Live at peace with everyone”—no exclusions. Oh, pulleeze! How do I do that?
Paul tells us: bless—don’t curse—them, pray for them, put aside your pride, don’t be full of yourself, don’t seek revenge for wrongs, overcome the bad with good (Romans 12:9–21).
Sometimes peace means living in separate tanks. Sometimes it means going out of your way to please a finicky person.
It ain’t easy, but you gotta keep peace in the fish tank.
Place Your love and forgiveness in my heart, O Lord, so I can obey Your command to love and pray for everyone—no exclusions. Amen.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on Romans 12:9–21
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