Sabbath, August 23, 2008
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:
and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4:9.
Men of peace
1. What divine instruction is given to every follower of the Lord regarding his relationship with others? Does this injunction apply only to church members?
“Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” Mark 9:50.
“And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” 1 Thessalonians 5:13.
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18.
“A Christian will not pursue a course of bickering and contention with even the most wicked and unbelieving. How wrong to indulge this spirit with those who believe the truth and who are seeking for peace, love, and harmony! Says Paul: ‘Be at peace among yourselves.’ This spirit of contention is opposed to all the principles of heaven. In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount He says: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ ‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 163, 164.
“When we can, notwithstanding disagreeable circumstances, rest confidingly in His love and shut ourselves in with Him, resting peacefully in His love, the sense of His presence will inspire a deep, tranquil joy. This experience gains for us a faith that enables us not to fret, not to worry, but to depend upon a Power that is infinite.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 289.
2. In the Holy Scriptures, how are those who help to bring peace among men regarded?
“And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.” Luke 10:6.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9.
“‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ Grace and peace rest upon those who refuse to join in the strife of tongues. When vendors of scandal are passing from family to family, those who fear God will be chaste keepers at home. The time that is so often worse than wasted in idle, frivolous, and malicious gossip should be given to higher and nobler objects. If our brethren and sisters would become missionaries for God, visiting the sick and afflicted, and laboring patiently and kindly for the erring–in short, if they would copy the Pattern–the church would have prosperity in all her borders.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 176.
Special attention to peace in the church
3. To what will we pay special attention if we want to have peace in the church?
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:17.
“The strength of God’s people lies in their union with Him through His only-begotten Son, and their union with one another. There are no two leaves of a tree precisely alike; neither do all minds run in the same direction. But while this is so, there may be unity in diversity. Christ is our root, and all who are grafted into this root will bear the fruit which Christ bore. They will reveal the fragrance of His character in the talent of speech, in the cultivation of hospitality, of kindness, of Christian courtesy and heavenly politeness.
“Look at the flowers in a carpet, and notice the different colored threads. All are not pink, all are not green, all are not blue. A variety of colors are woven together to perfect the pattern. So it is in the design of God. He has a purpose in placing us where we must learn to live as individuals. We are not all fitted to do the same kind of work, but each man’s work is designed by God to help make up His plan.” –(Review and Herald, July 4, 1899) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1083.
4. May we do something for the peace and harmony of spiritual Jerusalem?
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.” Psalm 122: 6-9
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3.
“Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11.
“Paul asks, ‘Is Christ divided?’ Have we not one spiritual Head? Christ has been the uniting stone, the chief cornerstone, in all ages. The patriarchs, the Levitical priesthood, and Christians of today, all have their center in Him. He is all and in all.” –(Review and Herald, January 3, 1899) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1083.
“‘I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.’
“Union is strength; division is weakness. When those who believe present truth are united, they exert a telling influence. Satan well understands this. Never was he more determined than now to make of none effect the truth of God by causing bitterness and dissension among the Lord’s people.
“The world is against us, the popular churches are against us, the laws of the land will soon be against us. If there was ever a time when the people of God should press together, it is now…. We cannot afford now to give place to Satan by cherishing disunion, discord, and strife.
“That union and love might exist among His disciples was the burden of our Saviour’s last prayer for them prior to His crucifixion. With the agony of the cross before Him, His solicitude was not for Himself, but for those whom He should leave to carry forward His work in the earth. The severest trials awaited them, but Jesus saw that their greatest danger would be from a spirit of bitterness and division.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 236.
Necessity for special control
5. What needs to be absolutely under the control of the Holy Spirit if we wish to have peace with our fellow men?
“What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” Psalm 34:12-14.
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” 1 Peter 3:10, 11.
For further study, read James 3:5, 6.
“Evilspeaking is a twofold curse, falling more heavily upon the speaker than upon the hearer. He who scatters the seeds of dissension and strife reaps in his own soul the deadly fruits. How miserable is the talebearer, the surmiser of evil! He is a stranger to true happiness.
“The sin of evilspeaking begins with the cherishing of evil thoughts. Guile includes impurity in all its forms. An impure thought tolerated, an unholy desire cherished, and the soul is contaminated, its integrity compromised. ‘Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.’ If we would not commit sin, we must shun its very beginnings. Every emotion and desire must be held in subjection to reason and conscience. Every unholy thought must be instantly repelled. To your closet, followers of Christ. Pray in faith and with all the heart. Satan is watching to ensnare your feet. You must have help from above if you would escape his devices.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 176, 177.
6. How far should we go to achieve and foster peace with each other?
“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” 1 Corinthians 6:7.
“Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9.
For further study, read James 3:18.
“Peter exhorts the believers: ‘Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.’
“When the right way is so plainly marked out, why do not the professed people of God walk in it? Why do they not study and pray and labor earnestly to be of one mind? Why do they not seek to cherish compassion for one another, to love as brethren, instead of rendering evil for evil and railing for railing? Who does not love life and desire good days? yet how few comply with the conditions, to refrain the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking guile. Few are willing to follow the Saviour’s example of meekness and humility. Many ask the Lord to humble them, but are unwilling to submit to the needful discipline. When the test comes, when trials or even annoyances occur, the heart rebels, and the tongue utters words that are like poisoned arrows or blasting hail.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 175, 176.
The secret of peace
7. When we are each truly united with Jesus Christ, what will be the case among the believers?
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” Ephesians 2:13, 14.
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20.
“The glory of heaven is in lifting up the fallen, comforting the distressed. And wherever Christ abides in human hearts, He will be revealed in the same way. Wherever it acts, the religion of Christ will bless. Wherever it works, there is brightness.
“No distinction on account of nationality, race, or caste, is recognized by God. He is the Maker of all mankind. All men are of one family by creation, and all are one through redemption. Christ came to demolish every wall of partition, to throw open every compartment of the temple, that every soul may have free access to God. His love is so broad, so deep, so full, that it penetrates everywhere. It lifts out of Satan’s circle the poor souls who have been deluded by his deceptions. It places them within reach of the throne of God, the throne encircled by the rainbow of promise.
“In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free. All are brought nigh by His precious blood. (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:13.)
“Whatever the difference in religious belief, a call from suffering humanity must be heard and answered. Where bitterness of feeling exists because of difference in religion, much good may be done by personal service. Loving ministry will break down prejudice, and win souls to God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 386.
An object lesson
How can the barriers be broken down?
A young man who was a foreigner had enrolled in a seminar and was taking part in a prayer meeting along with some twenty young people of different nationalities. The young man felt a certain aversion to the students from certain countries against which his own country had recently fought. At one point, the group leader suggested that everyone pray in his own language.
At first, the young man was not touched by the prayers of his companions since they were spoken in a language he did not understand. But then he noticed one word that he could understand in all the different languages. That word was “Jesus.”
He realized that he had something in common with that group–everyone knew Jesus as his personal Saviour. He began to understand that there is no east nor west, neither friends nor enemies. There should be no barriers or prejudice separating us. In Christ we are all brethren!
Jesus has made this possible. How about us?