Thursday, October 12, 2017

Seek Peace and Pursue It

For “whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
1 Peter 3:10-11 (ESV)

The Apostle Peter refers to a passage from a psalm of David (34:12-14).

As children of God, we should all want to love life. However, those who have been abused or who suffer from mental illness can’t always look at life as God intends.

Because we belong to God, we are to refrain from evil language and from speaking falsehoods. Churches of the Holiness Tradition have their church disciplines (book of teachings) one section of which states that a Christian refrains from gossiping. Gossip is defined as: telling of an event that one of which a person was not a part.

David’s words tell us here that we need to shun evil and practice good behavior. As children we were told to choose our friends carefully. We learned to obey our parents and that disobedience had consequences.

He tells us to seek peace and pursue it. We seek peace in various ways. Personally, I try to not get into the middle of things that don’t involve me. It is not always easy to adhere to this personal rule but I know I have to in order to please the LORD.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Bond of Peace

I, therefore, a prisoner for the LORD, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
 Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the believers at Ephesus. What he tells them applies to 21st Century believers as well.

“. . . walk in a manner worthy of the calling. . . ”
 When we accept the LORD into our hearts, we learn to respect God. Certain former habits become disrespectful of Him. We learn to omit these things from our lives. The Holiness tradition sums it up this way. We are to avoid the appearance of sin.

“. . . with all humility and gentleness, with patience,”

Humility simply means that we recognize our place before God. We learn that, while God loves us like we are His only child, He has other children who might have greater needs than ours. When we are humble we recognize we are sinners and Jesus is sinless.

Gentleness is one of the Fruit of the Spirit. I recently had to fill in for our Sunday school teacher. The second Sunday, the topic was gentleness. The author cited a Gallup poll from 2002 that said that most Christian believers found they were *not* gentle. The one question that showed they messed up in this area was, “Do you ever raise your voice?”(1.) In preparing for this lesson, I realized that I have not always displayed gentleness.

Patience is a learned response. Babies and small children want what they want when they want it. Some adults possess this same attitude. The hardest thing for us can be to learn to wait. If we go to a fast food restaurant, we expect our order to be filled in a few minutes. If we have microwaves, we have become used to the short wait for we want. God works in a different way. He allows things to happen when He deems us ready to accept them. We are to wait for Him.

“. . .  bearing with one another in love,”
 As we deal with those around us, we are commanded to show love for them. Sometimes, we have to overlook the behavior of those who display certain actions. Other times, we have to protect ourselves and those close to us.

“. . .  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

This can be difficult. Our main goal is to have peace in our hearts, lives, nation, and world.  Sometimes, what I see reminds me of two school kids fighting on the playground. At some point, one of the parties has to ‘be the bigger person’ and walk away from the issue. Maybe, at a later time after they have cooled off, they can come to terms and put the difficulty behind them. 

.   1..  “The Spiritual State of the Union,” a study conducted for The Center of Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania (Princeton NJ: Gallup Organization and the George Gallup International Institute, November 2002) 24’29

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