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Friends and Enemies

Today's Devotional

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Scholar Kenneth E. Bailey told of the leader of an African nation who’d learned to maintain an unusual posture in the international community. He’d established a good relationship with both Israel and the nations surrounding it. When someone asked him how his nation maintained this fragile balance, he responded, “We choose our friends. We do not encourage our friends to choose our enemies [for us].”   

That is wise—and genuinely practical. What that African country modeled on an international level is what Paul encouraged his readers to do on a personal level. In the midst of a lengthy description of the characteristics of a life changed by Christ, he wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). He goes on to reinforce the importance of our dealings with others by reminding us that even the way we treat our enemies (vv. 20–21) reflects our trust in and dependence upon God and His ultimate care.  

To live in peace with everyone may not always be possible (after all, Paul does say “if”). But our responsibility as believers in Jesus is to allow His wisdom to guide our living (James 3:17–18) so that we engage those around us as peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). What better way could there be to honor the Prince of Peace?

Where do you struggle to live at peace? How could being an intentional peacemaker interject grace into that conflict?

Loving Father, I was Your enemy and You called me friend. Enable me to be a peacemaker so I can show that same grace to others.

For further study, read Knowing God Through Romans.


It may seem odd that Paul tells his readers to “do what is right in the eyes of everyone” (Romans 12:17), especially since “everyone” includes unbelievers (vv. 14, 20). Paul is drawing from the teachings of Jesus, challenging us to treat all people well regardless of how they treat us (Matthew 5:39, 44).

But that involves being “careful,” as Paul puts it (Romans 12:17)—considering our actions carefully so as not to jeopardize the integrity and beauty of the gospel. Throughout his letters, Paul asks believers in Jesus to live well before the unbelieving world so that, in doing so, the changed lives of His followers can bear witness to His worthiness (2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Timothy 3:7).

It may feel unnatural to repay evil with kindness, but in doing so we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Himself, who gave Himself in our place while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:8).

By |2023-03-12T01:33:03-05:00March 12th, 2023|
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