One of my favorite verses and one that provokes much thought. I've been thinking about it lately in various contexts. Peace within one's self, peace among believers, peace in the Middle East, etc.
“If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
What immediately comes to mind is the run up to Iraq and various discussions in and out of the church building that I listened to- support for and (not so much) against- Biblical and opinion. Bush’s rush to war in the face of very convincing and grave doubts about the immediacy or even the threat of Saddam Hussein made this verse stand out to me then. I know the political/national scene doesn’t really apply, here, but sometimes we can act impulsively like that as individuals. We say I’ve tried all I feel like trying. I’m not going to take the hit. I can say I’ve tried to live peaceably, but this guy makes me mad and I’m not going to take it anymore. We rationalize and say, well it does say “if it is possible…” I think we need to look more closely at the second clause, not stop at the first to get the real and complete meaning- as much as it depends on us. A lot of times we give another meaning to “if it is possible.” We instead often mean by possible, “it’s probably not possible (or I don’t want to).”
Sunday’s lesson from James actually fit right in to me thinking about this lately, which was cool.
So many good points. Taming the tongue (or pen or FB status as the case may be) fits in quite nicely to how to live peaceably with all men:
James 3:8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
Self-seeking wisdom and then the wisdom to seek by which we can sow peace:
15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.by those who make peace.
It’s a tough balance. We have to stand up for the truth and balance that righteous judgment (with which we are supposed to judge) with being gentle and willing to yield. Obviously we aren’t to yield so as to be unscriptural. Jesus is the perfect example (of course) of this balance.
Another point of the lesson fit into my consideration of how to live peaceably. Sometimes you have to take a hit and not always assert your right to say and do this or that. In fact, you should strive to “take it patiently” instead of reviling and threatening in return. This is definitely not an American value, so we may have to fight against our schooling, here.
1 Peter 2: 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “ Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
And it’s always good to know what to do rather than just what not to do…
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
The context of “live peaceably with all men” also gives us insight into the meaning of that phrase and some goals, too.
Romans 12: 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“ If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”[b]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.