Sorry about yesterday. I was running late again. When I got home yesterday and went outside to take that picture you're all wanting. Well I bent down to snap it and the battery died. Went back in and put it on the charger but by the time it was ready, it'd gotten dark. I've got to help out at school today with field day, so you'll have to check in and see it tomorrow. Besides, I couldn't put it up there today. Something about mixing Bible verses with a picture of a butt pott just doesn't seem right to me.
Let's see. Last week we were talking about dealing with other people and how I Thessalonians 5 calls us to appreciate them. That we can understand. Those verses also tell us to "esteem them very highly in love". Now that's not a word we toss around everyday. At least not at my house. So we'd better think on it for a few minutes together.
What does it mean to esteem someone? To esteem means to have great regard for; value highly; respect. We must regard others in love and value them highly. After all, our dear Savior paid a very high price to ransom them for Himself. If they are of value to Him, they should be valued by me. See what it says in I Peter 1:18-19, "...knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things, like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ."
When we esteem others we respect them. Let's look at Romans 12:17-18. "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Now flip over to II Corinthians 8:21, "For we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."
Esteem is the bit that keeps us from charging down the road of vengeance and bitterness. And it reigns us in when we get too full of self.
There's one more thing to note from the verse back in I Thessalonians. It says to "live in peace". Notice that living in peace is not a request, it is a command. Another time in Mark 9:50 Christ commands us to be at peace with one another. Why?
Because, living without peace isn't really living at all. It's like grappling for a foothold in a pit of mud. There is no stable place. Refusing to make peace with situations, circumstances or people in your life comes with ramifications.
Now let's turn to Romans 14:13 and find out what this peace stuff does not involve. "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way." Peace is something we have to work at and push for, but here are some definite don'ts. Don't judge. Don't put obstacles in a brother's way.
These are so much harder to keep than they seem because personal preferences and experiences are strong. I can't, therefore no one can. God said no to me, so that must mean no for everyone.
Sometimes God calls us to abstain from something that is okay for everyone else. It doesn't mean we have a new cause to champion and that we should beat everyone over the head with admonitions if they don't follow suit. No, He's working with us on a particular thing for our life.
The things that are for everyone are already written for everyone in His word. To add to it is to place an obstacle in the life of another believer.
And sweet one, when you refuse peace you harden yourself to what God has told you and to who He created you to be. Then, the one who is supposed to go to Him who offers living water refuses. And you dry up. Ever seen those pictures of a dried up lake or riverbed?
They don't just dry up, they start to crack. And the cracks are jagged. The same is true of us.
When we refuse to obey, we begin to dry up spiritually. We harden ourselves to His call, to His word, to His people. Then we start to crack. The things we could've handled easily now send us into a panic or a rage. We hurt those around us with the barbs we spew from our mouths and the attitudes we adopt.
Not choosing peace is about so much more than simply not letting go of past hurts or future fears. It has painful consequences. And they're are not just for us. Our refusal for peace hurts all those around us.
Next Friday we're going shopping. We'll look at the grocery list of behaviors that do bring peace. Bring your cart...and your coupons.