Ro 12:18 “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
It is not always possible. No matter what we do, there will always be some people who will refuse to be our friends. But this is God’s word to us. “As much as depends on you”, try to make friends with people. Go out of your way if need be. Humble yourself if you have to, but do all you can to live peaceably with everyone.
John and Fred were brothers who lived as neighbours. They both inherited their father’s farm, and it was divided between them. For a while they enjoyed being close neighbours, and they were good friends. Then one day, they had a disagreement, and each of them felt furious against the other. It was not a big issue, but because of their pride, it became a major difference. They both exploded into an exchange of bitter words, and this was followed by weeks of silence. They stopped sharing machinery. They stopped helping each other. What began with a small misunderstanding grew into a bitter feud. The final straw came when Fred took his bulldozer and dug a creek across the meadow that separated their properties. He needed this for irrigation, but John took it as a deliberate insult, assuming this was his way of totally severing their relationship.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you?” “Yes,” said John. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbour. In fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he has dug a creek. I will go him one better. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence. I want it as high as possible, so I won’t need to see his place anymore.
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.” The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.
The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge – a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work – handrails and all – and the neighbour, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched. “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.” The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand.
They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother. “I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.”
Everyday we have the choice to build fences or bridges, and you know what it is, that God wants you to do – “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” What a wonderful home, and community we would have, if everyone did just that.