Ok, the last couple of weeks God gave me words to speak about anger. We have learned about how to handle our anger and we have read God’s word about what we need to do to prevent anger from ruling over us. Is it possible, that no matter how soft-spoken we are, no matter what we do, that we just can’t seem to prevent others from being angry with us, or persecuting us? There are times when we will do things that are going to make us “unpopular” even, or especially, when we follow God’s precepts. The world will hate us. God knows this. He even tells us in scripture (of course) that is will not be possible to live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:17-19 (NKJV) 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have[a] 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,”says the Lord.
Vs 18 reads: “if it is possible”. I find that strangely comforting, knowing that there will be times when we follow God’s word and His law that we are not going to make everyone happy. Which, I think is sometimes something that some of us do, trying to make everyone happy, convinced that it is our responsibility to persuade people to peace. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Vs 19 reminds us that even when others are mad at us, we must put aside our own anger and let God take care of everything. So does this verse tell us that we can just do whatever we want and if someone gets mad or takes offense, that’s their problem?
I don’t think so. God tells us that it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to make sure we are living at peace with everyone, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.
8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Pursue peace, we will probably suffer for righteousness’ sake, it is ok, we will be blessed. Great promises from God. There is however, a catch. God tells us to be ready to defend what we do, why we hope and to have a good conscience, a clear conscience it reads in the NIV. So He tells us that we can’t just do whatever we want and if someone takes offense than it is their problem. We must strive to do what is best in the eyes of God. We must be ready to give account to others for what we do, and we have to be able to use scripture to do so. Otherwise, we are lost. We must strengthen our spirit, reading scripture, praying, fasting, staying in relationship with other Christians and helping each other to be strong in the Lord.
Hebrews 12:12-15 (NKJV)
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
Vs 14 reads that we should pursue peace and holiness, another one of those if/then statements. If we don’t pursue peace and holiness, then we will not see the Lord. By “see” the Lord, Paul is referring, not to the physical aspect of seeing the Lord, we all know that on judgment day, everyone will see Christ and be judged. Paul is referring to the daily walk that we have with Christ, seeing Him in everything, “hanging out” with Him and understanding Him. Living a holy life, pleasing and acceptable to God in everything we do and say.
We are reading a lot about how we need to pursue peace. I think the key to living at peace is to pursue holiness, without holiness, without God in our lives, nothing we do can make any difference. Without holiness, we cannot truly walk in love. If we don’t walk in love, we will make others stumble, we will make others angry.
Romans 14:15-19 (NKJV)
15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
Live in love, strive for peace, pursue holiness, these are the things that will keep us from anger. Remember that we need to help each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:10-18 (NIV) 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak,be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
In conclusion: we are all priests, prophets and kings according to the word of God.
Malachi 2:5-7 (NIV) 5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.
Since we are all priests, then we are all messengers of the LORD Almighty therefore we have the promises He has written. A promise of life and peace, if we follow His law. Finally, remember what we prayed for last week:
Psa. 19:14 (KJV) 14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.