By Dennis Abernathy
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19). The Psalmist said: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psa. 34:14). To seek and pursue peace is to make every effort to do the things which lead to or bring about peace. Peace is wonderful and refreshing as a breath of fresh air on a spring day. We ought to make every effort to attain unto it.
Is it possible to seek peace, yea, to even pursue it, and yet not attain peace with a brother or sister in Christ, or within a
local congregation for that matter? Yes indeed. When one approaches a brother or sister in Christ, seeking to bring about peace, and those approached undermine your influence, try to destroy your reputation, hold you at arms length or otherwise isolate themselves from you, there is no way to make peace.
Many things can cause peace to be disrupted. The only way to have peace is to stop the things which disrupt peace. Peace among brethren is disrupted by worldliness, gossip, whispering campaigns, self-wined attitudes, pride, selfishness, envy, jealousy, intolerance, binding one’s opinion, hatefulness and discourtesy, etc. I might add, that false teaching will also disrupt peace.
The Christian is to work for peace. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). It behooves each of us to do all we can to pursue peace, without sacrificing truth and duty to God. “If it is possible” implies that with some it is “impossible” to be at peace. Peace with brethren is a two-way street. Two cannot be at peace if one has no desire for it. We ought to be willing to sacrifice our own personal rights, liberties, and preferences rather than stir up trouble in the church. I should never seek to bind my personal opinion and push it on others to the disturbance of the church. Neither should I be determined to have my own way about things that are of no importance. There are things that brethren may or may not do and we should leave brethren free to pursue whichever course they desire. We must contend for the faith, and, that earnestly (Jude 3), but we must never contend to the point of binding, for traditions, opinions and customs. Granted, when we contend for the faith it may disrupt peace, but when we contend for our opinions it will disrupt peace and we will be to blame, i.e., we are not pursuing peace, but strife.
If you are at odds with your brethren or with a brother or sister, why not go to them and talk about it (read Matt. 18:15; 5:23-24)? In other words, pursue peace! It is true, that on occasion our brother or sister may not listen or desire reconciliation. What then? There is little else, other than prayer that you can do. But perhaps they will listen to another. Try all within your power to restore peace and continue to serve God.
In conclusion, read 1 Peter 3:11; Hebrews 12:14, and 1 Thessalonians 5:13. “Finally, brethren, goodbye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 21, p. 646
November 2, 1989