We're trudging along in our series dealing with peace. If you haven't joined us before, you can click on the bottom of the post where it says 'Peace Series' and find all the posts we've had so far. We started off talking about peace with God and are now beginning to work on peace with others.
Let's backtrack just a second to a verse we read last time. James 3:18 "The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." There was one more thing I wanted us to see here. It is sown by those who make peace. It doesn't say those who are peacable, it says those who make peace.
Peace doesn't come naturally. We have to make it.
We have to make peace with our circumstances.
We have to make peace with the fact that we are not in charge of the whole world.
We have to make peace with other people.
We have to make peace with our bodies and our mortality.
We have to make peace with time, because I can guarantee you that things rarely happen on our timetable.
We have make peace.
Peace requires our active participation and, if necessary, our sacrifice of liberties. Turn to Romans 14:16-19 and let's take a look.
"Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. so then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another."
The verses in Romans previous to these deal with judging one another. Well, the quickest way for us NOT to make peace or build each other up is by judging. Now I'm not saying we should just let everyone do whatever they feel like and never say a word even if it goes against what the Bible teaches. No, there are two separate issues that we must keep in mind and there is a distinct difference in the two. One is meant to bind up, the other always tears down.
Are we the sin police? Do we go around checking under bedskirts and snooping through closets looking for sin in someone's lif that we can expose? Absolutely not. But, if sin becomes evident, it is our job to pray for that person. And then, if necessary, we prayerfully, prayerfully approach. The Bible gives us strict guidelines we are to follow when taking such a course.
Christ tells us in Matthew 18:15-17, "If your brother (that's a fellow believer)sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."
This is rarely the method used for rebuke, but it can be very powerful. It should never be undertaken lightly or with relish. But it is at times necessary to bring back a fellow believer who has walked away from his faith and is caught in a stranglehold of sin. Turning a blind eye to this kind of sin is a deterrent for those who remain faithful. We have been called to address it, unpleasant though it may be.
Next week we'll talk about the flip side of judging--personal preference.