Posts Tagged ‘Romans 14:19’

Beyond race relations: Make peace with one another

July 29, 2016

Romans 14--19

In recent blog posts instead of examining the Verse of the Day, we have been continuing  the series based on the concept “It’s all about relationships,” the theme from a conference attended three years that related seven principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” These principles can be universally applied in achieving and maintaining successful relationships, but they can also be specifically applied in an area of race relations, a critically important area in America today.

These seven principles are related to verbs that connote action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” The reciprocal pronoun used in the plural carries the notion of a group of people acting upon themselves, i.e., upon one another. For example, we are to “love another and so forth. . .”

1) Love

2) Honor

3)  Forgive

4)  Encourage

5)  Admonish

6)  Serve

7)  Make peace

Earlier posts have discussed the first six principles, and today we will look at the seventh:

Make peace with one another

In the midst of our war-torn world, we find a desperate yearning to experience “peace in our times.” Events occurring since September 11, 2001 have catapulted the world into a state of anxiety and fearfulness.  We are increasingly more aware of the absence of peace, as the United States is now entrenched in the war on terrorism which continues to consume the thoughts of many citizens. The world is seeking relief from the turmoil and strife of these troubled times, crying out, “Peace, peace, and there is no peace.”

Translated from the Hebrew expression shalom, this priceless concept encompasses a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being. According to Strong’s Concordance, shalom means “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” It is an inner reality, for the peace of God indicates being free from anxiety and care; it is not dependent upon outside conditions.

The peace of God comes from the God of peace, and it is only possible to obtain it through the Prince of Peace, who declares this truth:

John 14:27 (AMP):

27 Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

The Lord Jesus Christ also spoke these word about those who make peace:

 Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

“You are the salt of the earth,” one of the striking metaphors used by the Lord, describes those who follow him. Salt, a remarkable change-agent, facilitates the process of change. Such an agent of change appears on the scene and influences the total environment. Jesus Christ elaborates on salt and makes reference to peace:

Mark 9:50 (AMP)

Salt is good and useful; but if salt has lost its saltiness (purpose), how will you make it salty? Have salt within yourselves continually, and be at peace with one another.”

Peace, one of the fruit of the spirit, should be evident in the lives of believers today. As we sow the seeds of peace, we shall reap an abundant harvest of the same, according to James 3:18:

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Romans 14:19 (AMP) reminds us:

So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth].

Fruit produced from applying the principle of making peace should be especially evident in the Church. Prior to and during the times of Jesus Christ, Jews and Gentiles did not socially interact. The separation was comparable to the practice of segregation experienced by African Americans in the Deep South in the early 20th century. Jesus Christ, however, through his sacrifice on the cross and his subsequent resurrection, obliterated those barriers that separated these two cultural groups, unifying these factions into one body, the Church, known as the Body of Christ.

Ephesians: 2:14-17 (NLT) speak of the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, the savior of the whole world:

14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.

15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.

16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to dEeath.

17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.

In Ephesians 4:3 (NLT) we find another exhortation of peace:

Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].

As our thoughts turn toward the peace that the Lord gives and our desire to abide in peace, words from the Medieval Italian poet and philosopher, Dante Alighieri, come to mind, a line that introduces the following poetic prayer:

Peace

In His will is our peace.

Dante

                       

O, Lord, make us instruments of your peace, we pray.

From our lives may there stream heavenly melodies.

As consummate virtuoso compose and play

Upon our soul, inspire glorious harmonies.

In such measured moments of sweetest quietude

Arrange serenades of praise. Let grace notes resound,

As our lives crescendo in songs of gratitude,

From heart to heart, where your grace and mercy abound.

Orchestrate aubades, nocturnes, songs at eventide;

Complete cantatas of peace within us, align

Our desires and your pleasure. Here we abide,

Saxophone and soloist, communing by design.

Knowing our purpose, we remain quiet and still,

Composed in perfect peace, the center of His will.

The essence of the intent of the seventh principle and related scriptures is also expressed in the song “Instruments of Your Peace,” recorded in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

We conclude our discussion with these words:

As agents of change we transform our environment;

We give no offense and remove every stumbling block.

We have salt in ourselves, and make peace with one another.

 

 

 

Before you speak–T-H-I-N-K

January 25, 2016

Think before you speak

The Verse of the Day for January 25, 2016 is taken from Philippians 4:8 (KJV):

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

This verse clearly relates how believers should think and serves as the foundational scripture for a blog entry based on words of advice, often directed toward children, but they certainly apply to children of God at any age.

Edited and re-posted below is a devotional based on the statement: “Think before you speak.” When written as an acrostic, the word “T-H-I-N-K” was broken down into a series of questions with scriptures related to each of the questions asked.

This particular statement immediately brought to mind James 1:19:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

The Amplified Bible renders the verse in this way:

Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry

Proverbs 17:28 in the Amplified Bible makes this astute statement regarding speaking, or rather, not speaking:

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent;
with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent

Proverbs 23:7 (AMP) also speaks of the center of our thoughts:

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As one who reckons, he says to you, eat and drink, yet his heart is not with you [but is grudging the cost].

This verse is coupled with this sobering reminder from Luke 6:45 in the Amplified Bible:

The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

Every believer is to be conscious of what that individual thinks. We are reminded to control our thoughts. Paul exhorts us to “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We must never forget that “thoughts are the seeds to our words and deeds.” Therefore, always “Think before you speak” and ask these questions:

T Is it true?

In every situation we want always to speak the truth, and so we ask this question before we open our mouths in response: “Is it true?” We are always looking to the Word of God as our standard for what is true:

Psalm 19:9 declares:

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Psalm 119:160 reiterates this truth:

Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.

Whenever we open our mouths to speak we want to be a “true witness,” as Proverbs 14:25 indicates:

A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.

Jesus Christ made this statement: “Your word is truth. Sanctify them through your word.”

H Is it helpful?

The words that we speak should be helpful, as Romans 14:19 reminds us:

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Colossians 4:6 also offers this encouragement regarding the words we speak:

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Ephesians 4:29 reinforces the same message:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I Is it inspiring?

The words that we speak can build up or tear down; they can encourage or discourage. Before we speak, we should ask, “Will what I say inspire and motivate those who hear me?”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 offers these words of encouragement:

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do

Believers are also exhorted to “admonish one another” in Romans 15:14

And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

A similar expression is used in 1 Thessalonians 5:14*

And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.

A Bible study from Xenos Christian Ministries explains that to admonish is to apply moral correction through verbal confrontation which is motivated by love. We should always endeavor to speak the truth in love which involves “Communication of God’s truth in love in ways that strengthen Christians to go on following God’s will.”

N Is it necessary?

Although the Scriptures encourage us to always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks, (I Peter 3:15), we may encounter situations whereby we should “hold our peace” and say nothing. Indeed, there are occasions when it may not be necessary to say what we have in mind. Indeed, Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking.
In exercising the grace of God, some believers may feel that they can say whatever they think or whenever they want to. 1 Corinthians 10:23 calls to our attention this truth:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

In life we all may encounter situations where it may be better to say little or nothing, as we ask, “Is it necessary?”

K Is it kind?

Most remarkably, what we put into our minds is what comes out of our mouths. Colossians 3: 12-14 (AMP) exhorts us:

12 Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].
13 Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].
14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].

If we put kindness into hearts and minds, then what we say and what we do will clothed with kindness, as we follow Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 4:32:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

If we are endeavoring to speak the truth in love, we can be assured that what we speak will be kind because “love is kind.” (I Corinthians 13:4)

And so we have endeavored to answer the five questions which form the acrostic based on the statement: “‘T-H-I-N-K’ before you speak.”

The essence of the message of this post is captured in this scripture memory song “Meditate on These Things” from Integrity Music:

Watching the words we speak

September 19, 2014

Ephesians-4--29

On September 19, 2014, I begin my day with the Verse of the Day found in the New Living Translation of Ephesians 4:29:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

This exhortation to pay attention to the words we speak is expanded in the passage from Ephesians 4:29-32 (KJV), as Paul employs the figure of speech called polysyndeton or many “ands” to reinforce his message:

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Romans 14:19 also reminds us:

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Colossians 4:6 also offers this encouragement regarding the words we speak:

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

In a previous blog entry, “Guarding the mouth gate: speak no evil,” I comment that the verses from Ephesians and elsewhere serve to make believers aware of what they say. For the words that we speak are expressions of what is in our hearts. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” says Solomon. With this in mind, John Bunyan recognizes that individuals must become guardians of “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” in this way: “They are the places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “ear gate,” “eye gate,” and “mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys comes to mind to remind us that we must consciously seek to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”

Without question, as believers we must watch what we speak and speak no evil. Since “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” we must carefully choose the words that we speak, recognizing:

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

James 3:8

 

We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So we covenant to guard the gates of our lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

We desire life and long to see good all our days,

So we speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, we want our tongues to speak what God says.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

We seek not just a word but the spirit of wisdom.

We are encouraged to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation regarding ourselves and others.  Johnny Holmes expresses the essence of the our desire that thoughts that come from our hearts conveyed in the words that come from our mouths will be acceptable unto God, as revealed in Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.