“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” -Romans 12:17,18
Jesus came down from heaven to make peace. Peace was the first message preached about him. The angels proclaimed at Christ’s birth, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14 Jesus preached peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” -John 14:27
Jesus says his peace is not the world’s peace. Jesus came to establish peace between God and mankind. Before Jesus, man and God were estranged, separated by a wall of sin (Isaiah 59:2; Ephesians 2:14). But through His suffering and death, Christ brought down the wall separating man and God. Sin was taken away and nailed to the cross with Christ. The punishment for all our sins God laid upon Christ (Isaiah 53:6). Through Faith in Christ God is at peace with us sinners, and we can be at peace with him. This is the greatest peace the world has ever known, for it unites the creator with his creation again, it is irrevocable, it is eternal.
Man’s peace is always temporary. Not even the best of friends or the closest of spouses are at peace with one another 100% of the time. Peace treaties between nations notoriously fail. Only those who know the peace of God in Christ can possibly be at peace with other men. We can be at peace because we know we are all equally guilty before God, and we are also equally justified in Christ. How can I hold a sin against someone whom Christ himself has forgiven? When we offer forgiveness, we offer peace.
That’s why Paul wrote, “Repay no one evil for evil.” And he writes, “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.” In other words, even in those who are at enmity with you, find some good
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Peace depends on you as a Christian. How can anybody without the Peace of God in him be at peace with God or fellow man? Christians must extend the hand of peace first. And then through sharing the Gospel of the cross of Christ, peace may be established. This is what depends on you.
Of course, many will refuse to be at peace with you. You can act peaceably, you can offer forgiveness and understanding, you an offer your peace and the Peace of Christ, and it can all be rejected. But we can’t go through life like that. “That person hates me, so I won’t even make an effort.” No, but “as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Christians don’t match hate for hate, anger for anger, word for word, violence for violence. Christians are called to respond with peace.
Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” – Luke 6:27-31 This is how Christ treated his enemies, including us, and this is how Christ redeemed the world.
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’says the Lord. 20 Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’” -Romans 12:19-20