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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peace on Earth


          How many times will Luke 2:8ff be read or quoted this month? Perhaps we especially like verse 14: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased" (NASV). I can't read this passage without picturing Linus on stage quoting these verses. Isaiah pictured the reign of the Messiah as one of peace, for those who would "walk in His paths" (Isa. 2:3-4).


          It is easy to have peace among those who submit to the Lord's rule. But what about "peace on earth" between those who follow the Prince of Peace and those who do not? Paul wrote in Romans 12:18: "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." How can we have peace with those who do not submit to the kingdom of Christ?


          Here are some ideas... Speak gently with them. "A soft answer turns away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1)."Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Colossians 4:6).


           Second, try to understand them. Seek first to understand. Then, to be understood. Proverbs 25:12 says, "Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear." Third, be patient. Jesus says, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" and Paul tells us that "Love is patient and kind" (Matthew 5:44 and 1 Corinthians 13:4).


          Fourth, apologize for any misunderstanding or error on your part. That follows from speaking gently and trying to understand. Humility requires us to do such. "For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation" (Psalm 149:4). Fifth, control your reaction. This is one of the hardest, perhaps. Control your tongue. Control your thoughts. Control your actions. "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls" (Proverbs 25:28).


          Finally, always entrust your life, your happiness, your future into the hands of your loving Father in heaven.  You may get slighted here on earth. But God will take care of you forever. "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:19).


          "Strive for peace with everyone" (Hebrews 12:14).


--Paul Holland

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