“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
In this verse the Apostle Paul is informing us that we have boundaries of responsibility. The J.B. Phillips translation puts it this way: “In as far as your own responsibility goes, live at peace with every man.” In all our relationships we have a responsibility. That responsibility has a point at which it begins and there is a terminus where our responsibility ends. We can’t control what the other person in that relationship does or does not do. We can control, and we are responsible for, what we do in every relationship.
This is not only true in our relationships but in every other area of our life. There is a hymn which laments, “Oh what needless pain we bear…” I often think of that phrase. We bear so much needless pain because we do not accept the boundaries of our responsibility. Into each life some pain must fall. I have my share and I’m sure you have your share. But nobody should tolerate the thought of needless pain!
There is so much needless pain in our life because we do not accept the limits of our limitations in that dimension for which we are responsible in our relationships. This truth can set us free from so much pain in difficult relationships. Paul is prescribing that we must acknowledge and accept our responsibility boundaries.
Someone has written that all nature is red in tooth and claw. If we will fill and take Paul’s prescription we will be saying to the one in relationship with us, “Life is not a rat race or a dogfight because I am not a dog or a rat.”