Things Which Make for Peace
Ralph D. Gentry
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (Rom. 14: 19). Obviously, each person must be desirous of peace and cognizant of such contributing factors in order to follow after them. Let us, therefore, learn of these things.
The above passage is an application by principle to the question of eating meat, which had been dedicated to the idols in pagan worship and was being offered for sale in the market places. Meat, which would ordinarily be acceptable to purchase and eat in a common meal became wrong if by our participation another brother was led to sin by eating in violation of his conscience. To insist upon individual prerogatives regardless of the consequences to a brother is anything but contributing to peace and edification. A test of one's desire for peace and love for a brother's soul is evidenced in the choice made. To say, "It's only my business what I do" is the language of selfishness, not of love. This principle is also applicable to congregational activities. Should the congregation adopt such unnecessary practices as force upon a member a participation in what one can not conscientiously endorse, the promoters thereof are guilty of promoting division. Such a brother is placed in the position of either sinning by remaining with the congregation or else departing from it. It is the spirit of Cain who slew his brother, Abel, and asked contemptuously. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Love makes for peace because it will eliminate hurtful attitudes, which only end in strife. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor" (Rom. 13:10). "Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Peace is not made by hate, suspicion, pride and anger--the things, which a lack of love will promote. Solomon said, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:1).
Peace will not come of itself--it must be made. "And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace" (James 3: 18). All parties concerned must want peace, so the next point is:
Getting together and -discussing mutual problems and interests will make for peace.
Debate they cause with thy neighbor himself: and discover not a secret to another" (Prov. 25:9). Much of the division among brethren is perpetuated and allowed to increase through misunderstanding and consequent misrepresentation. Studying together in an orderly fashion will clarify differences and tend toward a scriptural solution. A refusal to thus do is only to widen the breach already made. Generally, the longer a strife continues unchecked, the more numerous the misrepresentations become.
Getting together in a search for the truth with a healthy respect for God's word and "nipping the thing in the bud" would have saved many a battle and scar. This was the way it was performed in New Testament times (Acts 15). When differences are permitted to continue without any effort for reconciliation ever being put forth there is something wrong with one or both parties involved. If each of us will "Study to show ourselves approved of God" it will make for peace, for none can be at peace with each other until all are at peace with God.
Humility will make for peace. "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (I Pet. 5:5). Be humble enough to place yourselves in the other person's position so far as humanly possible and understand his motives and view points. Be humble enough to admit the possibility of your being in error. Be humble enough to learn from anybody, even your worst enemy. No man is perfect. No man knows all. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise" (Prov. 12:15).
While it is not always understood and appreciated by some, one actively engaged in peacemaking, is aggressively fighting against all things, which make for strife. Doing battle against sin, the root of strife, is peacemaking. And what is sin? The apostle answers, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law" (I John. 3:4). Those refusing to "contend for the faith" (Jude 3) are contributing to further division born of spiritual weakness in ignorance of the truth. Such persons with "tongue in cheek" lay claim to being peacemakers -- but do lie, either not knowing the nature of scriptural peace, or else know it and have the respect of persons uppermost in their hearts. The devil's plan for peace was, "Let us alone..." (Mk. 1:24). Then we read of Ahab who had violated God's commands and was opposed in his wickedness by the prophet Elijah to whom Ahab said, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered. I have not troubled Israel: but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim" (I Kgs. 18:17, 18). The transgressors of the Bible are always quick to charge the cause of trouble to those who oppose them. But what causes division? Is it not the introduction of religious error? If so, peace can be restored when, and only when, that which divides us is rent asunder with the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. Peace can not be had by ignoring and whitewashing our differences. Such a superficial peace only adds to and increases our problems. The Lord Jesus Christ never made peace with his opponents by surrender, treaty or compromise His followers can not ignore His saving example. Jesus said "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matt. 10:34-36). The meaning is clear. There is an inevitable conflict between the forces of good and evil. Those who attempt to compromise for peace, are traitors to the cause of righteousness.
The preaching of the "gospel" (Rom. 10:15) from the "prince of peace" (Isa. 9:6) reconciles men to God and brother to brother. There is no substitute! War is the price of peace. And what are the Christian's weapons? "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4, 5.)
Truth Magazine VII: 2, pp. 16-17