OceanSide church of Christ
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FOLLOW AFTER THE THINGS WHICH MAKE FOR PEACE
Victor M. Eskew
The words which title this article are found in Romans 14:19. Paul writes: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and the things wherewith one may edify another.” The word “follow” in this verse means “to pursue, to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire” (Thayer, e-sword). The end of such efforts is peace. Peace is tranquility, harmony, and concord between individuals. Paul notes that we can engage in certain things that will promote and establish peace. The question is: “What are some of the things that we can eagerly seek to accomplish that will make for peace?” Let’s look at a few things that every member of the local congregation can do.
1. BE MATURE. Maturity involves one’s being grown up. A mature person is advanced physically, mentally, and emotionally. A mature person does not behave as a child. A mature person is responsible. A mature person knows when to be serious. A mature person is disciplined. A mature person can bear hardships. Immature adults are a definite hindrance to peace within churches. They keep things stirred up by their words or actions. The mature members constantly have to pamper them and pull their slack.
2. OBEY THE RULES. Rules are put in place to provide order and decency. When rules are disregarded, peace is disturbed. The rule is that worship starts at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Latecomers disobey the rule. Their tardiness disrupts worship. This is just a minor example. The primary rules for peace are in God’s Word. Anyone who violates God’s will creates strife and anguish within a congregation.
3. DON’T DEVELOP PARTIES OR FACTIONS. Factions in congregations are small groups that cater to the group members to the exclusion of others. One faction often causes other factions to develop. Oftentimes the factions war against each other. When this happens, there is unrest and strife within congregations. Even if there is no outward warfare, many times there is unrest beneath the surface of the church.
4. WORK OUT YOUR DIFFERENCES. There are times when members of congregations have differences. Sometimes one member sins against another. At other times, they have differences in opinion as to how things should be done. These difficulties can cause friction, even divisions within churches. The Lord exhorts us to work these things out (Matt. 5:23-24; 18:15). Confrontation, acceptance of rebuke, admission of wrongs, forgiveness, and acceptance of the forgiven are all part of this process.
5. WILLINGLY SUFFER WRONGS. No one likes to be treated unfairly. Most individuals will do everything in their power to right the wrongs committed against them. This often breeds strife within the local church. For peace’s sake, it is often better to suffer the wrong and move forward (I Cor. 6:7).
6. DON’T LET POWER GO TO YOUR HEAD. There is a need for power and control in every congregation. Sometimes this control can be in the hands of one who is not in a designated position of power. One must be careful “how” he wields his power. One should never become a Diotrephes who loves to have the preeminence (III John 9). Such a person will create barriers between himself and those in rightful positions of power.
7. REFUSE TO BE TALEBEARER OR GOSSIP. The Bible plainly teaches that talebearers are troublemakers. “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (Prov. 18:8; 26:22). Some people love to be involved in other people’s business. Then, they love to spread that business all over town. Such people create bad feelings among brethren. Too, the talebearer is not liked by very many in the congregation. Just the mention of his/her name causes members to act uneasy.
8. PRACTICE FAITHFUL LIVING. When a person becomes unfaithful, he has created the need for confrontation. The spiritual are commanded to seek to restore the erring (Gal. 6:1). Such efforts can create bad feelings between brethren. The unfaithful are not always receptive to those who are seeking their best interests. Every bit of this could have been avoided if those who are unfaithful would have remained faithful.
These are just a few guidelines that can promote peace among members of the church.
These things need to be followed with earnestness. Peace, dear readers, is not optional. It is commanded in numerous places. “…and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50). “…live in peace” (II Cor. 13:11). “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). “And be at peace among yourselves” (I Thess. 5:13). “…follow…peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Tim. 2:22). “Follow peace with all men…” (Heb. 12:14). May God help us to do as Peter commanded: “…seek peace, and ensue it” (I Pet. 3:11).