We must not be proud or irritate one another or be jealous of one another. Galatians 5:26 (GNT)

I have a friend who seems to find great fulfillment in annoying people. He’d never admit it, of course, but it’s almost as if he considers irritating others a spiritual gift of some sort! He would often boast to me about how he cornered people who had differing views politically, theologically or socially. He was a well-versed and well-studied man in both the scriptures and the political scene so his arguments were hard to dispute and his persistence was relentless.

While I agreed with many of his arguments, his tactics bothered me. There was one time in which he actually boasted to me about how he’d offended the people in a particular political party booth. Not surprisingly, my friend had few close friends although he was well known in many circles.

When Paul is writing to the Galatians he is writing to a group of people who were well-versed in doctrine. However, they had taken their knowledge and used it as a platform to let everyone know how ‘right they were’ and had no patience or time for anyone who differed with them theologically or doctrinally. His message to the believers is to refrain from using their knowledge of scripture as a tool to irritate and antagonize those who believed and lived differently than they did.

The key to peace with God is relationship, a relationship built on Jesus Christ. The key to peace with ourselves is confidence in and acceptance of who we are, or, again relationship with ourselves. The key to peace with others is, you guessed it, relationship. To have a strong relationship with others means we are more intent on building peace than arguments.

When we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that most of the conflict we have with other people is the result of our trying to be ‘better’ than someone else either in what we believe or what we do. Jesus, as creator God never used his superior knowledge to antagonize those who needed forgiveness. In the same way, we are called to spread the good news, not adversity. As believers in Jesus Christ we are commissioned to build up not tear down. To live in peace and unity, not antagonize.

Paul admonishes us to ‘live at peace with others when at all possible.’ Don’t be the reason for the strife in your relationships. Hold others in higher esteem than you hold yourself. Living at peace with yourself is the first step to living at peace with others.

There is no place in the Christian life for us to ridicule others, or mock them for their beliefs. People have a right to be wrong and to be valued in spite of their beliefs. We don’t need to agree with others to live at peace with them.

PRAYER: Lord I thank you for who I am. Forgive me for those times when I compare myself and what I have to others. Empower me to live at peace with myself and what you have given me so that I can live at peace with those around me. Amen.