Do All That Is in Your Power to Pursue Peace.
- Matt 5:9
- Heb 12:14
Don’t stir up strife.
- Rom 16:17; Prov 6:19, 26:21, 18:21, 10:19; Titus 3:10; Eph 4:29; Jas 1:9, 3:1ff
Talked about the fact that conflict is inevitable. Conflict also can be very dangerous, but conflict brings opportunity for us, as believers, to bring glory to God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” So, we want to do all that we can to pursue peace with all men. I have some counselees who are quarrelsome. There are a lot of verses in Proverbs about that. Some with anger, some just seem to argue all the time. So, we do not want to be the people who are spreading strife among brothers. “An angry man stirs up strife and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.” There are people you will meet that like to argue. Sometimes I’ll go to a conference, like a pastor’s conference or something, and you’ll meet somebody new, and you’ll want to find out, well, what do you believe about this, and what do you believe about that, and he’s trying to find something to disagree with you about so you could have a, I guess what he considers to be a good discussion. Proverbs says, “Like charcoals, hot embers, wood, fire, so is a contentious man to stir up strife, to kindle strife.” Many people need to be taught simply not to be quarrelsome, that, certainly there are times we have to speak because of conscience and say what we believe, but there’s some people who are just argumentative, and that needs to be admonished and identified. And it’s one thing, when you have the two people together, you see how they talk to each other. Here’s how you could have said this differently, or this wasn’t really helpful at all.
Our speech is very important. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. “Where there are many words, transgression is avoidable but he who restrains his lips is wise.” And then, another verse for your ever-thickening group of verses you use a lot, Ephesians 4:29: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment that it will give grace to those who hear.” That is a great filter for people, when they’re having a discussion. If they can’t do it when they’re with you, in the counseling situation, you can imagine how bad things are when they are together alone. So, are you saying this because you’re trying to build up the other person? And you can build somebody up with a loving admonishment. It’s not that you’re always positive and patting people on the back. But was this said to build up or to tear down? And there’s a lot of speech that is just in its purpose to tear down. We should be slow to speak, slow to anger. We, also, we’re told, “Do not grumble,” 1 Corinthians 10:10: “as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer.”
Overlook minor offenses.
- Rom 14:19; 1 Pet 4:8; Prov 10:12; 19:11, 20, 22; 25:28; 15:18; 14:19; Matt 5:39-40; Phil 2:5ff; 1 Cor 13:7
We need to be ready to overlook minor offenses. “Love covers a multitude of sins,” 1 Peter, chapter 4. “It’s hatred that stirs up strife, that love covers all transgressions.” So much in our day is people standing on their rights and fighting for what they think is theirs. I’ve been following the World Cup some, and one team, the teammates got offended and they refused to practice because they were mad at the coach. We should be people who bear up under insults and mistreatment, who are not thin-skinned but thick-skinned. “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger and it is his glory to overlook a transgression. A fool always loses his temper. A wise man holds it back.” So it’s very, very important that we be patient and there are often times when we will be wronged and the best thing to do, rather than making an issue of it is simply to let it pass. I like Proverbs 25:28: “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” Another verse that I use a lot in counseling, in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 7, it says, “Love hopes all things. Love believes all things.” And to paraphrase, love assumes the best. If somebody does something that may appear to you to be offensive, try to think of some way you can take it in the best way, rather than the worst way.
Be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of peace.
- 1 Cor 6:7; Prov 17:14
We should be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of peace. Paul tells the Corinthians, “It is better for you to be wronged than to go to court before the unbelievers.” So we pursue the things that make for peace and the building up of one another. “Abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.” There are a lot of times you should just walk away, if it’s simply a matter of pride.
Trust God to defend your interests.
- 1 Pet 2:23
And ultimately we have to trust God to defend our interests and not to feel like we have to always speak up for ourselves. Thinking of our Lord Jesus, “While being reviled, he did not revile in return. “While suffering, he uttered no threats, but kept entrusting himself to him who judges righteously.” Jesus did not stand up for his rights and as we trust God and trust, as Jesus did, that ultimately God is the one who cares for us, protects us. There are times you’re tempted. You hear somebody says something about you, and you feel tempted to blast back or to go tell everybody else how bad they are, and how good you are. There’s times just to be quiet. So part of peacemaking is not to make a big issue over everything that happens. We’re gonna talk about how to confront sin, but you don’t necessarily confront every sin. If the wife squeezes the toothpaste from the middle of the tube, or the husband, you know, leaves the toilet seat up or something, you really don’t need to be calling in the elders in all these situations. I had one time, it’s actually a lady I had tried to counsel when she had been having kind of an emotional affair with somebody and by God’s grace, she repented of that, and two or three weeks later, she calls me and says, I want to divorce my husband. Well, why? Well, we were in this store and a pretty girl walked by and I noticed him looking at her, and so, we need counseling and, you know. I don’t think we, as men, should be looking inappropriately at pretty girls, but, that’s, from what she described, wasn’t a matter to pull in the elders, especially in light of the forest in her own eye, which brings us to the next point.