Pursuing Peace (4) - Summary of Biblical Principles
Pursuing Peace (4): Summary of Biblical Principles
Hebrews 12:14 - “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”
Spiritual stability (Phil. 4:1, 1 Cor. 15:58) in dealing with relational peace requires growth in two directions: a) For people who are overly sensitive and easily offended, such Soft Boiled people must learn to distinguish between true offenses and imagined offenses; not seeking approval from men but from God alone. Practice letting go and raising your threshold for offense. b) For people are callous, hard and insensitive who easily wound and offend others, such Hard Boiled people must become more tender hearted and aware of their need of giving mercy, kindness and grace. Practice circumspect action, double-checking with others if wounds or offenses happened (without your intention).
I. Principle One: Conviction - Resolve to Pursue Peace Eagerly with Conviction. Be obedient to God’s will in pursuing peace through forgiving others since Christ has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32). Be resolved that practicing biblical reconciliation with others has eternal consequences. Jesus taught that there is no more foundational pursuit than peace through personal reconciliation (Mt. 5:23ff,6:14, 18:1ff).
II. Principle Two: Self-Examination - Identify Causes of Bitterness Conscientiously in Self-Examination. Keep a blameless conscience. Causes of alienation can be our own pride (Mt. 18) or greed, like Esau (Heb. 12:15ff). Prideful arrogant people alienate others. Greedy desires and twisted values alienate others. Instead of repenting of evil within our own hearts, we can blindly hold others responsible and nurse a grudge and grow a root of bitterness.
III. Principle Three: Clarity - Define Offenses Clearly. Before accusing or judging others, define their offense(s) biblically. An offense is a cause or occasion of sin, a “stumbling block” (scandalon, Mt. 5:29ff, 16:23, 18:6). A true offense requires a) that another person violate the Law making you the victim of such sin and b) this alleged sin is confirmed with proper evidence. Differences of opinion, irritations, annoyances, failures of others, etc. are not a true offense against you and thus do not justify your criticism, cynicism or condemnation.
IV. Principle Four: Action - Respond to Offenses with (only 2) Biblical Actions. There are only two categories of resolution: a) those offenses we forgive without requiring further action. This is being "tender-hearted" and letting "love cover a multitude of sins" (Eph. 4:32, 1 Pt. 4:8). b) those offenses we pursue reconciliation by “process” with the means of sequential, humble confrontation (Mt. 18:15ff) to give opportunity for the clarification, repentance, and peaceful resolution.
V. Principle Five: Renewal - Practice Dealing with Relational Strains by Renewing Your Mind - After responding to true offenses biblically, Phil. 4 gives practical guidance in dealing with ongoing strained relationships. Seven actions emerge for prayerful action:
1) Problem - Identify the problem (state it clearly) (Phil. 4 v2-3).
2) Praise - Rehearse praise and gratitude for being “in the Lord” (v4).
3) Patience - Repent of impatience and be more long-suffering (v5).
4) Petitions - Replace worries with thankful, specific petitions (v6).
5) Peace - Leave the results with God and receive/accept His peace by faith (v7).
6) Positivity - Envision the truth, goodness and beauty of your situation (v8).
7) Practicality - Identify and practice good models of peace (v9).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more