By Mike Willis
The Sermon on the Mount opens with the Beatitudes, one of which states, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9). Men should love peace and learn how to make it. There are things that men do that disrupt the peace of brethren and, therefore, this beatitude is just as applicable in the twenty-first century as when it was first spoken.
Things That Create Discord
As we identify those things that create discord among brethren, we see what things must be eliminated in order for peace to exist. Recognizing these things as destroyers of the peace, we also see that our responsibility as peacemakers includes the elimination of those things that disrupt the peace. Here are some things that the Scriptures identify as destroying peace between brethren.
A man who sows discord destroys peace between brethren. Solomon described him that sows discord among brethren as one of the seven things that Jehovah hates (Prov. 6:16-19). Discord is sown through gossip and whispering campaigns within and without the local church, as well as by meddlers. Proverbs says,
A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends (16:28). He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends (17:9). It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling (20:3). One can see the effect of such men in how they destroy brotherly relationships that have been years in building. A whisperer can move into a congregation and create alienation between brethren who have known and respected each other for years. Foolish men play into the hands of whisperers when they allow themselves to become alienated without so much as even calling one another to see if what is being repeated is so.
Wise men recognize themselves as making peace when they stop the mouths of whisperers, gossips, backbiters, and meddlers in other men’s affairs. Stopping the mouths of such men necessarily creates temporary turmoil; however, this is Bible peacemaking in action.
Domineering brethren destroy peace among brethren. Those who are so domineering that things must be their way or else they will destroy the peace of the local church. Paul warned, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). Surely one can see that strife is the opposite of peace and that the strife described in these verses is caused by those who were pressing to have their way at all costs.
A peacemaker must stop the influence of such domineering brethren. Otherwise, a congregation will suffer one conflict after another as these bullish men insist on having their way in every issue that faces the congregation, whether that issue be appointing elders, who is invited for meetings or supported, whether a congregation should re-locate, etc. Sometimes brethren are deluded into thinking that they are “making peace” by giving in to such men. What they really are doing is empowering them. Every future battle will be made more difficult because of the acquiescence of the past.
A man who preaches false doctrine destroys peace among brethren. The conduct of the Judaizers as described in Galatians is a good example of how preaching and teaching false doctrines destroys the peace of the brethren. Paul began by saying, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (1:6-7; cf. 5:10, 12). Preaching false doctrine will always trouble brethren who are trying to stand for the truth! The Judaizers practiced many of the same tactics that all false teachers do. They worked secretly among the members (2:4). They alienated the Galatians from Paul, a faithful gospel preacher (4:17).
Paul warned the Romans of similar brethren saying, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (16:17-18). Notice the trouble that these men created — divisions and offences. What caused these divisions was the preaching of false doctrines.
False doctrines always have that impact on those who are trying to follow Christ. When men stop the mouths of false teachers, they are making peace. This is the reason that Paul instructed elders saying, “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Tit. 1:11). One is not loving or making peace when he ignores false teachers in the naive hope that their doctrine and influence will die a natural death and not have a lasting impact on brethren.
What a naive concept one has of peace making when he thinks that he is working for peace by not addressing the problems of false teaching, domineering brethren, gossip, whispering, and backbiting. These problems can only be addressed by demanding repentance. Peace is the result when those things that destroy it are removed, not allowed to have free reign in a congregation. When false doctrine is preached without resistance, when domineering men are allowed to have their way, and when gossips and whisperers are not required to give account of themselves, peace can only be had when righteous people surrender! Unless we are ready to surrender to the devil in the interest of peace, we must put on the whole armor of God and stand against these wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11). When we do so, we are making true Bible peace.
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