If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9
I have often tried to reckon in how many ways a good man may be a blessing to the neighborhood in which he dwells; and I am continually adding to the list. My mind, at such times, is sure to revert to some of my early and venerated friends, whose whole character exemplified that saying of the wise man, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.” One particular in which they were very useful, was in promoting a spirit of peace and forgiveness among the neighbors, who were too apt to indulge a litigious or a malicious spirit. “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God;” and truly enviable is that person whose endeavors, under the divine blessing, prove the means of banishing a spirit of contention and discord, and promoting that harmony and peace by which earth may be made in some degree to resemble heaven.
Let me set down a few rules for living in peace.
1. Mind your own business.” Half the quarrels among neighbors arise from idle curiosity, impertinent meddling, and foolish talking about the affairs of others.
2. “Keep your tongue from evil.” If you cannot speak well of a neighbor, speak no evil. Never be afraid of the tongue growing rusty for lack of use! Give it no work but what is really profitable: keep it constantly under the direction of the law of wisdom, and the law of kindness; and they must be quarrelsome people indeed that will quarrel with you. If a spark from their ill temper should fall, it will soon go out for lack of fuel. It is the second blow, which makes the fray. A peaceful man is not likely to strike the first blow: let him resolve not to strike the second, and the matter will soon end. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19.
3. “Do not contend for every trifle, whether it be matter of right or opinion.” There is great dignity and magnanimity in yielding a just right, rather than indulging contention. And as to matters of opinion, nothing can be more foolish than to wish other people to see with our eyes, or to desire a law that all the clocks in the parish should strike at the same moment with ours. If we think that others are wrong, we may with meekness instruct them. If called upon to defend our principles or our practice, our contest should be for truth, not for victory—and truth is best sought in the spirit of peace.
4. “If others neglect their duty to you, be sure that you perform yours to them.” The rule is, “Do to them (not as they do to you, but) as you would desire them to do to you.” To return railing for railing, is to return sin for sin.
5 “If you have an enemy, make him see and feel that you love him.” Love in return for hatred, and good for evil—penetrates like oil in the bones; it subdues without striking a blow.
6. “Beg of God for universal charity.” Whenever you pray for yourself, pray for all mankind; especially remembering those who have done you evil, or attempted to do it. Pray for grace to forgive them from your heart, and beg of God for Christ’s sake to forgive them too. Remember Him who prayed for his cruel murderers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
7. “Be humble.” Have no lofty claims, no high conceits. Think how insignificant, undeserving and guilty you are; then you will be slow to perceive or take offence, prompt in forgiving and forgetting, and incapable of revenge. When any injure you, think, “If I did not deserve this particular injury at the hand of my neighbor, I deserve far worse at the hand of God.” Forget the faults of others, and remember your own. Forgive anybody rather than yourself.
8. “By faith wait for the providence of God.” Be not hasty in vindicating yourself, but commit your cause to Him who judges righteously; and in due time he will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday. “Do not recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save you.” Our remembering an injury often does us more harm than our receiving it.
9. “God permits a Christian to be wronged that he may exercise his patience. He commands him to forgive the wrong that he may exercise his charity.”
10. He who overcomes evil with good, overcomes three at once, namely, the devil, his adversary, and himself; and the self-conqueror is the greatest of all conquerors.
11. By taking revenge—a man may be even with his enemy; but by rendering good for evil—he is superior.
12. I will be even with my bitterest foe,”
Revenge exclaims, and then returns the blow.
“I’ll be superior,” should the Christian say,
“And kind forgiveness readily display.”
-Gorham Abbott, The Family At Home