Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (Romans 14:19)The Greek word translated "follow" in this scripture implies pursuit. In Thayer's Greek Definitions it actually says "to run swiftly (and eagerly) in order to catch a person or thing." * It is, in fact, a much stronger word than we are used to in our everyday English. We are to run after peace. We run after it to obtain it. It is not recreational. We are not just casually strolling in that general direction. Sometimes we might have it, and other times we might not.
We see this thought again in 2 Timothy.
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace... (2 Timothy 2:22)Flee! Follow! "Flee" is as strong a word as "follow". It means to "run away to escape". **** Run away, escape, youthful lusts. Run after peace. The succeeding verses give further revelation on this instruction.
But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient... (2 Timothy 2:23-24)Strife is the opposite of peace. Gentleness and patience on the other hand go hand-in-hand with it. Psalms 34:14 speaks along this same line of thought. It says, "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." Depart, do good, pursue peace!
The prophet Jonah, having finally delivered the word of the Lord to the people of Nineveh, afterwards went into the desert, sat down, and indulged in a bit of a fit. Here's a man who had learned the hard way not to run from God, who had personally seen the expansiveness of God's forgiveness and mercy. Yet, the Bible says Jonah was displeased. Jonah even went so far as to blame God for being so merciful! In effect, he said, "I knew you'd forgive them. You always forgive everyone, and I just want to die." (Jonah 4:2) The Lord's response really strikes me in the heart.
Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? (Jonah 4:4)"Jonah," the Lord says, "Is it right for you to be angry about this?" *****
When the Scripture says, "Be...angry, but sin not," it is asking us to not allow the anger and the strife, which WILL come, to dominate our heart. ** If I am to pursue peace, then I must refuse anger. There is no "re-channeling" of it, as if it can be used profitably.
Remember what Jesus said? "In the world, you will have tribulation..." *** Opportunities arise on a daily basis in which we can lose our pursuit of peace and give in to the consuming pressures of strife and anger. During these instances we must stop our backward slide towards the conflict. For we cannot run towards peace when we are indulging in anger. Anger, and consequently strife, stop our forward walk in the things of God. We must in those moments remember the question God asked Jonah. "Is it right for you to be angry?"
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently... (Hebrews 12:14-15)The pursuit of peace implies persistence. It means never giving up. No matter what is thrown our way, we walk in peace. We walk in peace with ALL men, no one person being excepted. We walk eagerly, hungry for God, avid. Why? Because, as this verse says, without peace "no man shall see the Lord." Without peace, without holiness, gentleness, and patience, I will not experience God's presence.
I don't know about you, but I need the Lord every hour of every day. If anger and strife can cause me to stop moving forward, if they will keep me from His presence, then those are reasons enough for me to eagerly pursue peace. Nothing is worth that! Nothing.
* G1377 ** Ephesians 4:26 *** John 16:33 **** http://thesaurus.com/browse/flee ***** NLT
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.