“Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it” (1 Peter 3:11 NLT).
God’s heart is for relationship. He wants relationship with us, and He wants us to be in relationship with one another. Read what Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 5:21-47, and look for the idea that God does not want division between any parties. We are to always “Live in harmony and peace” (2 Corinthians 13:11). In Matthew Chapter 7, we read about
- not being angry with one another, no name-calling, and no cursing anyone (divisive) (verses 21-22).
- making amends for offense (seeking reconciliation) (verses 23-24).
- lust (divisive) (verses 27-28).
- divorce (divisive) (verses 31-32).
- integrity (seeking peace) (verses 33-37).
- revenge (divisive) vs. going the extra mile (seeking peace) (verses 38-42).
- loving our enemies (seeking reconciliation) (verses 43-48).
I’m currently following a Bible reading plan that is scheduled to get me through the entire Bible by December 31. What I’ve been finding very interesting is the daily thread winding through each day’s passages, with a different thread each day.
Today’s thread was peace and reconciliation, as you may have guessed by now! Along with the second half of Matthew 5, I read the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. She had run away from her mistriss, Sarai, after being treated very harshly. This is what happened then:
“The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,’ she replied. The angel of the LORD said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.’ Then he added, ‘I will give you more descendants than you can count'” (Genesis 16:7-10).
Sarai and Hagar didn’t have the best relationship, but God sent Hagar back to reconcile it nonetheless. The troubles between them had been caused by both parties (read the beginning of the chapter), but God still wanted them to seek peace with one another. Whether or not Sarai forgave Hagar for disrespecting her earlier, Hagar’s responsibility was to do the right thing going forward.
Peace requires work on our part, and often requires us to give up something in order to obtain it. Remember, God did that for us! Our relationship with him was broken by sin. We were the guilty party. And yet God gave up his Son to die, so that we could be reconciled to him. Why is it so hard for us to be willing to compromise with others in order to find peace with one another?
Seeking peace is a concept found throughout the Scriptures. I think that is because it is so near the heart of God. After teaching about loving our enemies, Jesus says this: “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). God is our example, as He loves the righteous and the sinner alike. We are to follow in our Father’s footsteps, and seek peace in our circles of influence.
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace” (Colossians 3:15).
“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
Did you know that pursuing peace brings promises of God?
“And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness“ (James 3:18).
“Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you“ (2 Corinthians 13:11).
Do you have any relationships that are currently strained or have been broken? Have you begun the path to reconciliation and peace? Pray for God’s wisdom in how to move forward.
May we be willing to sacrifice in order to strive for peace. May we be living examples of God’s loving heart in this dark world we live in!