Peaceable People Are Truly Needed!
THE theme was promising: “International Literature Congress—Writers for Peace.” The location was picturesque: the old German city of Cologne, overlooking the Rhine River. The atmosphere of the convention was tranquil until it was shattered by a brawl between delegates. According to news reports of the 1982 convention, some attenders shouted, pushed, and shoved—even grappled for control of the stage. The ruckus was over whose government is the aggressor in world conflicts.
Whether the battlefield be some distant land, a convention floor, or your next-door neighbor’s living room, why cannot more people get along in peace? The answer is simple: Genuine peace cannot exist if the God of peace, Jehovah, is excluded from people’s lives.—1 Thessalonians 5:23.
At Galatians 5:22, 23, the Bible lists peace as one of the fruits of God’s holy spirit. True and lasting peace can be in our lives only if God’s spirit causes its growth in our hearts. How is this done? We must first come to know Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ, and then exercise faith in them. (John 17:3) Thus, there will be fulfilled toward us the fervent petition of the apostle Paul: “May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your believing, that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit.” And note that Paul concludes his admonition in this same letter with this further petition: “May the God who gives peace be with all of you.”—Romans 15:13, 33.
The peace that God’s holy spirit produces is different from the peace that the world seeks. In what way?
A Different Peace
Internationally, a peacemaker is someone who is good with words and protocol; someone who by compromise can appease two opposing parties without necessarily changing their attitudes and motives. Thus a communist can come to be at peace with a capitalist without either one of them changing his philosophy. Being at peace with God, though, is different. God sets the terms for peace. He defines these and shows how they are applied. With Jehovah God it is not compromise but a total surrendering of our motives, attitudes, manner of life—our whole self.—Matthew 22:37.
Therefore, what is needed today is peace rooted in divine wisdom, not human wisdom. On reading James 3:13-18, we note the benefits that heavenly wisdom gives:
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his fine conduct his works with a mildness that belongs to wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts, do not be bragging and lying against the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is the earthly, animal, demonic. . . . The wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical. Moreover, the fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under peaceful conditions for those who are making peace.”
The peace that comes from God’s wisdom does more than prevent conflict; it earnestly and actively pursues a good relationship with others.
In addition, being peaceable in a godly way helps prevent harmful inclinations, seeded in mankind’s heart since the time of the rebellion in Eden, from growing into deadly, sinful acts. (Genesis 8:21; Matthew 15:19; Romans 5:12) Referring to the effectiveness of this protective shield, the apostle Paul wrote that “the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts [motives] and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:7.
This indicates that “the peace of God” is conveyed by him through the Son. Jesus said: “I give you my peace. I do not give it to you the way that the world gives it.” (John 14:27) True peace is not a result of social, economic, political, or environmental reform but, rather, a result of worshiping Jehovah in imitation of his Son Jesus Christ. It is appropriate, therefore, that the apostle Paul starts so many of his letters with expressions such as: “May you have undeserved kindness and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”—Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2.
Are You a Peaceable Person?
Peaceable Christians realize that apart from Jehovah they have no lasting peacemaking ability. The human flesh is weak. It needs to be bolstered by God’s spirit. Paul reminded Christians: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Then he added: “If, though, you keep on biting and devouring one another, look out that you do not get annihilated by one another. But I say, Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all. For the flesh is against the spirit in its desire, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, so that the very things that you would like to do you do not do.”—Galatians 5:14-17.
When opposed by someone, a person’s ‘fleshly desires’ may deceive him into believing that he is right when, in fact, he is wrong. The ugly traits of egotism, envy, and uncontrolled competitiveness are glossed over. In the person’s mind, these take on the appearance of aggressiveness and zealousness, which to him are the keys to becoming a winner, or a success. That is what happened to some first-century Christians living in the province of Galatia. They allowed their ‘fleshly desires’ to mar the beauty of peace not only in their own lives but also in the congregation. “Enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions” spotted up their congregation’s spiritual appearance, and they had to remove those spots in order to restore peace.—Galatians 5:20, 22.
Today, unchristian traits can similarly rob our spiritual paradise of its peace. Business, work, school, social, and congregational activities provide circumstances that test whether we have a tight grip on the fruit of peace or not. To ensure that you are a peacemaker rather than a peace robber, ask yourself these questions:
Replace Human Wisdom With Divine Wisdom
The sinister spirit that impels habitual peace robbers stems from selfish desires. Notice how the disciple James pinpoints the origin of bad fruitage at James 4:1, where he writes: “From what source are there wars and from what source are there fights among you? Are they not from this source, namely, from your cravings for sensual pleasure that carry on a conflict in your members?” Disturbers of congregational harmony resist becoming peaceable because they allow selfish desires to ‘carry on a conflict within them.’ They permit a warring spirit to camp inside their bodies. Hence, their selfish desires, like an invading army, go on the warpath, campaigning for importance, greater influence, possessions, and the like, while snatching peace from their relationship with God and with fellow believers.
Likely every day we are faced with some situation, or with someone, that we find disagreeable. How do we handle the matter? Some may protest loudly and angrily, hoping that this will cause the problem to back off and change. Others, desiring to protect their position and status in life, may campaign actively against any improved methods. Such actions destroy peace. They slow down progress and accomplishment at home, at work, or in the congregation. On the other hand, “the wisdom from above is . . . peaceable.” (James 3:17) And peace in action unites people with people, and people with God. (Ephesians 4:3) That is why divine wisdom further instructs:
□ “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift.”—Matthew 5:23, 24.
□ “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.”—Romans 12:18.
□ “So, then, let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another.”—Romans 14:19.
Peacemakers Are Evangelizers
The apostle Peter, recognizing that Jehovah God is the Sponsor of a worldwide message of peace, said, “He sent out the word to the sons of Israel to declare to them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ: this One is Lord of all others.” (Acts 10:36) Jesus not only “came and declared the good news of peace” himself but also trained his followers to do so. (Ephesians 2:17) He explained that this would be through a house-to-house ‘search for deserving ones,’ and he instructed them, “Wherever you enter into a house say first, ‘May this house have peace.’”—Matthew 10:11; Luke 10:5.
However, as in the first century, so too now, not all appreciate “the good news of peace.” To them it awakens, not a peaceful reaction, but rather a fighting spirit. Jesus anticipated this type of response to the evangelizing work, for he said: “When you are entering into the house, greet the household; and if the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you.” (Matthew 10:12, 13) Some would eagerly accept this peace from God; others would not. But, in either case, the Christian would not lose his peace with God or with man.
People who spurn God’s peace are really at war with him. Included in Jesus’ prophecy that lists events marking the sign of his presence in Messianic Kingdom power is this warning illustration: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, . . . he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:31-33) The issue causing separation centers on God’s Kingdom by Christ. How individuals respond to the “good news of the kingdom” that is brought to them by the ‘least of Christ’s brothers’ is what weighs heavily in their judgment. (Matthew 24:14; 25:34-46) In his dividing work, Christ uses only peaceable people to deliver the message of good news. In this way no opposer would have grounds for saying: ‘They made me so angry I couldn’t understand “the message of peace.”’
Therefore, in a world peppered by day-to-day conflicts of both a personal and an international nature, peaceable people are truly needed. You will find such people in the true Christian congregation. Let the “God of peace” give you his holy spirit. Calmness, serenity, and tranquillity, as well as freedom from friction, strife, doubt, and fear, will then be your happy lot. (Isaiah 32:17, 18) In addition, by spreading “the good news of peace,” you will enjoy the grand privilege of helping others to become peaceable.—Ephesians 2:17; Matthew 28:19, 20.
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The peace that comes from God’s wisdom does more than prevent conflict; it earnestly and actively pursues a good relationship with others
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The peace that God’s holy spirit produces is different from the peace that the world seeks