Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 13 July 21:
1 Thessalonians 5:15-19 — Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
Christians are called to seek peace and reconciliation. Our message is peace and reconciliation which is found in Jesus and Him alone –
- John 14:27 — Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
- John 16:33 — I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- John 14:6 — Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
- Romans 5:11 — More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
- 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 — All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
- Ephesians 1:7-10 — In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
- John 17:11, 21 — And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one…. That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
- Matthew 12:25 — Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
Notice from today’s readings that seeking peace doesn’t mean avoiding conflict or friction. On the contrary, confrontation is inevitable along the path to peace, and without friction, there is no traction, and without traction, there is no movement or momentum for the wheels of change and progress. As Pastor Rick Warren says in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, “Notice Jesus didn’t say, ‘Blessed are the peace lovers,’ because everyone loves peace. Neither did he say, ‘Blessed are the peaceable,’ who are never disturbed by anything. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who work for peace’ — those who actively seek to resolve conflict. Peacemakers are rare because peacemaking is hard work.”
“Be patient with them all.” Some people just don’t care, and some people don’t try hard enough; we are commanded to love them all equally – “For God shows no partiality.” (Romans 2:11) There is a time to confront, a time to rebuke, a time to admonish, and a time to encourage, but it all must be done with patience, grace, and love. Before you engage that other person on an issue, consider the guidance given in 1 Thessalonians 5:
- “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil….” First remember as an ambassador of Christ, you can’t represent your own personal interests in a matter – it is not about you, it is always about Him. Confronting someone can’t be about protecting your own interests or simply getting even; it must be motivated by a genuine desire to draw them closer to Jesus. You have been entrusted by God with the message and ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) Also, there is never an excuse for unloving behavior on your part – you are not controlled by someone else’s behavior if you are controlled by the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit – “For the love of Christ controls us…. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 16)
- “Always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” Your genuine motive must be to seek the very best for the other person or people involved in the issue at hand, whether they deserve it or not. Check your motive (your heart) before opening your mouth or getting involved. If your heart isn’t at peace and filled with the love of Christ, you can’t promote peace and love – “Be at peace among yourselves.”
- “Rejoice always.” Approach confrontation positively, joyfully, and hopefully. Give thanks to God that you have an opportunity to promote reconciliation and anticipate God to work in the hearts of those involved. Your positive spirit will be refreshing to others. Also, it’s hard to sin in anger when you are rejoicing and praising God – “Be angry and do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26)
- “Pray without ceasing.” Continuous prayer is the most important element of conflict resolution as well as the most neglected. It is God who knows and changes hearts, not you, and apart from the Holy Spirit you will not have the wisdom required to know the right things to say and do in any give situation. Don’t open your mouth without praying first, and bathe in prayer every word that comes out of your mouth.
- “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Remember, it is God who has entrusted you with the message and ministry of reconciliation, who has empowered you for the calling, and who has intentionally placed you on the frontlines of conflicts and challenges so that you can glorify Him. Life issues give you your opportunities to display the love of Christ and share the Gospel. Give thanks for the opportunity and serve joyfully and faithfully as Christ’s ambassador. Athletes are not celebrated for how well they know the game but rather for how well they play the game. Similarly, your Bible knowledge must be translated into application on the fields of life, and the more you practice, the better you get.
- “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver…. Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.” (Proverbs 25:11, 20) Finally, having a sense of timing is part of wisdom (knowledge rightly applied). True love speaks the truth in love, and love demands patience, tact, gracefulness, and care rather than carelessness. We own the burden of responsibility to speak in a manner which can be received by the listener, and sometimes the best response is to say nothing. Again, this sort of wisdom requires the leading of the Holy Spirit — Do not quench the Spirit.
- Colossians 3:12-17 — Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 July 21: Today, be a reconciler, using every ‘issue’ to share the love of Christ with everyone.