“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).
This is a proverbial statement, a general truth in life; it is not to be taken as an iron clad rule without exceptions. Jesus was not at peace with His enemies. They killed Him. He warned, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub how much more will they call those of his household!” (Matthew 10:25-26).
However, the proverbial point is that it is possible to win over our enemies. It is possible to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Peter wrote, “Beloved, I beg you… having you conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
There is a reason that it says, “If it is possible…” John Shannon comments, “If it is possible, the Christian is to live at peace with all men. However, it is not always possible. Some people in and out of the church are troublemakers, complainers, fighters, and just plain evil people that have no interest in living at peace with anyone… when conflict occurs, we must not be the cause of it; we should do everything within our power to bring and keep peace” (Editor Dub McClish, Studies in Romans, p. 235). Roy Deaver comments, “Christians must strive to be at peace with their fellow-men. Verse 18 shows that at times this is not possible… But to the extent of his individual ability, the Christian must strive to be at peace with all men” (Deaver, Romans: God’s Plan For Man’s Righteousness, p. 487). Robert Taylor Jr. writes, “Christians should seek to be at peace with the world as long as no compromise of truth has to occur to insure it… the lack of peace should be their fault – not ours due to cantankerous dispositions and soured – on – the world attitude and actions” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, p. 223).
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
“See the Lord” refers to seeing Him in glory, and seeing Him in heaven (Matthew 5:9 cf. 5:10-12; 1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 22:4). Those who will see Him pursue (to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire – Thayer): (1) Peace with all men. Christians are not just to try to live at peace with their brethren; they are to try to live at peace with all people. (2) Holiness. The word “holiness” (hagiasmos) refers to “separation to God” and “the resultant state, the conduct befitting those so separated” (Vine’s).
“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” (James 3:17).
Wisdom is shown in conduct. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic” (James 3:13-15). Andrew Connally points out, “Wise men from of old placed great stress on the getting of wisdom (Proverbs 4:7). The truly wise is one who fears God (Proverbs 9:10). The real test of wisdom is the conduct of wisdom (James 3:13)” (Connally, Great Lessons From Hebrews and James, p. 103). Let us demonstrate true wisdom!