Introduction

  1. Text: Jas. 3:17,18.
  2. We live in a discordant, violent world where strife is often the norm.
  3. Few words surpass the beauty of words like peace and harmony — and few ideas have any more pleasant associations.
  4. The Hebrew word shalom meant not merely the absence of strife, but positive well-being, the enjoyment of all that is conducive to a person’s highest good – Num. 6:24-26.
  5. Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6) — and He pronounced a high blessing on His followers who would be “peacemakers” (Mt. 5:9).
  6. An important part of letting our light shine (Mt. 5:16) is learning to be agents of God’s peace in our world.

I. Strife Is Always the Result of Sinful Self-Will

  1. Discord, enmity, and violence were among the first fruits of sin when it entered the world – Gen. 4:8; 6:11.
  2. There is never an instance of strife without the sinful self-will of somebody being involved – Jas. 4:1-3.
  3. Of the “works of the flesh” listed in Gal. 5:19-21, no fewer than 9 out of 17 are sins of discord!

II. Ultimately, the Gospel Is the Only Thing That Can Remove the Cause of Strife and Bring about Real Peace

  1. Given the cause of strife, it is not surprising to find “peace” among the things that are the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22,23).
  2. Apart from God, the search for peace is finally empty – Isa. 48:22.
  3. Reconciliation is a product of the gospel of Christ — peace begins when men submit to the reign of Christ.
  4. The gospel is “good news” of peace – Lk. 2:14. Cf. Eph. 2:14-17; 6:15.
  5. The highest peace made possible by the gospel — the one which makes all other peace possible — is the peace of man with God – Rom. 5:1.
  6. But the gospel also makes possible the peace of a man within himself and peace with others – Phil. 4:6,7; Jas. 3:13-18. Cf. Jn. 14:27; 16:33.

III. We Must Be People Whose Own Relationships Are Peaceful

  1. Obviously, the Lord never advocated “peace at any price” — truth is more important than peace – Mt. 10:34-36. Cf. 1 Kgs. 18:17,18; 2 Kgs. 9:22.
    1. The godly wisdom that produces peace is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, etc.” (Jas. 3:17).
    2. It is criminal in God’s sight to cry “Peace, peace!” when there is no peace – Jer. 6:14. Cf. Ezek. 13:15,16.
  2. But whenever we are involved in strife, it had better not be the result of a purely selfish advocacy of our own interests – Rom. 12:18. (And it takes a person of considerable honesty, not to mention wisdom, to see when conflict is required to defend the honor of truth and when conflict is merely the product of one’s own self-will.)
  3. We are commanded to “pursue peace” (Hb. 12:14) and to aspire to “lead a quiet and peaceable life” (1 Tim. 2:2). Cf. Prov. 16:7.
    1. Our homes ought to be havens of peace – Prov. 11:29; 15:17; 17:1; etc.
    2. We ought to be at peace with our brethren in the congregational relationship – Rom. 14:19; 1 Thess. 5:13. Cf. Mk. 9:50; 2 Cor. 13:11; Gal. 5:15; Eph. 4:1-3.
    3. We ought to be at peace with those around us in our communities and neighborhoods – Rom. 12:17,18.
  4. Basically, it is the wisdom imparted by godliness that tells us when to yield and enables us to live peacefully with others – Jas. 3:17,18. Cf. Prov. 3:17; etc.

IV. We Must Also Be Promoters of Peace Among Others Who Are at Enmity

  1. When it comes to conflict among other individuals with whom we have some influence, are we peacemakers or troublemakers? Bridge-builders or bridge-destroyers?
    1. Peace requires work. It must be actively pursued, not passively wished for — to what extent are we leaving to others the work of bringing together those who are at enmity?
    2. Peace comes with a price. Somebody has to take risks and make sacrifices — to what extent are we letting others pay the price of peace?
  2. All of us have some influence — to what extent are we using it to make peace?
  3. If the gospel is the ultimate source of peace, there is no peacemaking that can take the place of personal evangelism.
  4. Are we communicators of the peace that comes from the gospel?
  5. Are we those through whom our neighbors come to know that peace with God has been made possible, that it is possible to “come home”? Cf. Isa. 53:5.

Conclusion

  1. The peace that grows out of godliness is a part of the “good life.” Cf. 1 Pt. 3:10,11.
  2. As far as it depends on us, then, we must “live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).
  3. When we are diligent to make our own relationships peaceful — and when we work at promoting peace among others — we will be lights in a world that is not only dark but full of strife.

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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