Making Room For Peace
Find out what you do agree on and take some steps of action on the things on which you do agree.
Alright, thank you very much and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? I hope everything’s okay at your house. I’m so glad to be back with you once again. I just look forward to these times of sharing with you from the Word of God. It does me good, you may be sure, to look into God’s Words and share them with you, my dear friends.
We’re working now in Romans chapter 14. We walked around for a while in that 17th verse that says the kingdom of God that is the proof that God is running your life is not found in what you do to be officially religious.
He was talking then in terms of officially religious eating, for example, the question of eating meat that had been offered to idols in the temple and that sort of a thing. He says “the kingdom of God,” the proof that God is your King, in other words, is not found in what you do to be officially religious but rather is found in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost because if you serve like a slave serves his master, if you serve Christ, “in these things,” he said, “you’re acceptable to God and approved by people.”
So then we went on. And the last time we got together, we were just touching base on verse 19, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify or build up another person.” “Let us follow” that word is a Greek verve “dioko” which means “to pursue” like a hunter pursues his quarry. Let us pursue the things that make for peace and let us pursue the things wherewith one may build up another person. This then is the outgrowth of the verse saying, “Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” you see.
He says the proof that God is running your life is righteousness – His righteousness – imputed to your record and imparted to your life; peace- the peace that passes understanding; and joy – the joy that spills over- Peter calls it joy unspeakable and full of glory. And he says, “Now, let’s pursue these things because these are the things that make for peace between people.” “And these,” said he, “are the things that help to build another person up.” Momentarily I was just walking about in the vicinity of that phrase “things that make for peace.”
What really is the basis of peace between people? Well, first of all, I think the individual has to be sure he or she is really right with God. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Most of the discussions, arguments, and fights we have with other human beings have somewhere in their background a disquieting sense of something not being quite right in ourselves. I have found that when I have been before my Lord in a time of prayer and repentance and heart searching and soul searching and humbling myself before God, I am a lot easier to get along with when I come up off of my knees and face the world once again.
I’m far less judgmental, far less critical, far less insistent upon having my own way; I am, in other words a little easier to bear. Now, why is that? Well, simply because when the grace of God operates in one’s life, there is humility and there is patience and there is understanding and there is God-given insight and not to say wisdom, even. And so that becomes then the basis for interpersonal peace, peace with God and the peace of God that passes all understanding keeping your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
When, however, I am spiritually flustered or, on the other hand, spiritually dry and fruitless and barren because of having neglected my Lord, then what? Oh, then, I find that I tend to be more critical of others, more judgmental, more pejorative in my statements, more brittle in the relationships that I sustain with those who may disagree with me. Now, I say that’s a Cook-ism but it comes out of some understanding of the way human nature works and I think you may very well be agreeing with me, some of you.
Things that make for peace, dear friend, begin at the mercy seat. When you and I have been before our Lord pleading for mercy, we’re far more apt to be peace makers when we come out of that sacred place, don’t you agree? Again, things that make for peace. I think of Paul’s statement in Philippians 4, “Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything. In everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” So often in times past when in a committee meeting or a board meeting, one was aware of striking a snag where there just didn’t seem to be any way out. I would say, “Let’s pray about this.”
And somehow the gracious Spirit of God would find a way for us, a way to get a basis of agreement and of subsequent action. Everything by prayer. Then I think, things that make for peace is based oftentimes simply on the willingness to look at the other person’s point of view. Philippians 2 verse 4 says “Look not every man on his own things only, but every man also on the things of others. In lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves.” Don’t just look at your own point of view. Look at the others, other person’s point of view.
Have you ever tried that? Or have you tried it recently? In any domestic argument, it’s pretty hard to see the other person’s point of view because you’re so close to each other emotionally that you end up just defending your own self esteem really, not so much your viewpoint. And emotion gets into it and feelings get into it. But things that make for peace very frequently are based upon the willingness, the simple willingness, to look at the other person’s side of the matter. Why does he or she feel that way? Why do they feel that they must insist upon something or other? And if you can understand their point of view, you may be able, then to get together.
Years ago, one of my deacons in La Salle, Illinois, Ralph Snow, gave me a set of little books on management one of which had to do with resolving conflicts. And I recall very clearly that it simply stated as follows: In any type of negotiation, always ask the following questions: What does the other person want? Second, what do I want? Third, how can we get together? But first you have to start with the other person’s desire.
I think that’s a very wise and effective way of achieving the things that make for peace. He’s talking about peace now in relationship with other people – the things that make for peace. Don’t look at your own point of view only. Stop and think how the other person feels and why he feels that way. You’d be amazed at the flexibility of ideas that such a procedure will give you. Look at the other person’s point of view. And another thing is find what you do agree on and emphasize that. This, of course, is just common horse sense, isn’t it? Are you running a committee meeting and you find that people are at loggerheads. Back off. Just stop the discussion for a moment and back off from the matter and say, “Now, let’s see what we have agreed upon so far.” Might use a blackboard even and write down the things upon which we can agree. Never mind the differences now, let’s see what we do agree upon. Then use that agreement, acknowledged agreement, use that as the basis for steps of action. What can we do about the things we do agree on?
When you come right down to it, most of the points of disagreement that you and I have are not all that eternal, are they? If you take your disagreement with some group, some family group or church group or committee group, or whatever it may be, if everything that you’re striving to win over on these points, if every single one of them where suddenly to be wiped out and there was no more issue, not only had you lost the argument, you lost the issue. If it were all to be wiped out, couldn’t you go on living pretty well? Why, of course, you could.
Would it tend to show up in eternity as being something of eternal worth? No, probably not. Most of the things we fight about are petty, isn’t that true? Record your next family feud. The next big family fight you have, record it. And then after the smoke is cleared away and you’ve had a chance to simmer down, play it back. You’ll be embarrassed to tears to realize that the things over which you were arguing so vehemently were really so trivial. Well, we all know that that’s true but we forget sometimes, don’t we?
So find out what you do agree on and take some steps of action on the things on which you do agree. A friend of mine told me that he was visiting on a farm one day and he saw some leghorn chickens, you know, the little white chickens that they have. He saw them penned up in a pen out in the middle of a yard. There were two or three of them that were the object of everyone else’s attack. This often happens as you know because birds and animals are just like people. We pick on each other. And they were pecking away at these two or three unfortunate individuals and actually drawing blood and you could see that the fight was on in that pen where they were held together surrounded by some chicken wire that the farmer had strung up.
Well, my friend said, the farmer came out and took one look at it, walked away, got a spading fork, came back, stepped inside of the enclosure and turned over a few forkfuls of earth revealing of course the worms and the grubs that live underneath the surface of the soil. Now what happened to the fighting? It was all over. Why? Well, because they agreed on one thing and that was there was food there and they got busy scratching and eating. The farmer looked up at my friend. He said, “Hey, Reverend!” He said, “If you want people to stop fighting, get them scratching for something. Get them to work.” Not a bad idea.
Dear Father today, grant to us to find the basis for agreement in Thy will, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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