“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Romans 14:19
The fourteenth chapter of Romans proves once and for all that differences of opinion between believers are never settled once and for all. And the fact that there isn’t always a right or wrong answer does little to lessen the resolve of either party. No wonder Paul inserted verse nineteen in the mix. When you read the chapter you find several things that can be lost in such disagreements, like friendships (v. 3) and spiritual effectiveness (v. 20). Another victim is peace. And when any of these three is forfeited, no one is edified.
Notice, too, that peace is something that doesn’t come naturally. It must be pursued, as 1 Peter 3:11, says. As sons and daughters of Adam, we don’t come into this world spreading peace and cheer. We’re all born with the proverbial “chip on our shoulder” (Job 5:7). Therefore, peace, especially between individuals, will perpetually be something we have to “follow after.” But this verse says there are things that “make for peace.” It’s like the godly woman whose epitaph was, “It was easier to be good while she was with us.” There are things in life that make peace easier.
The first prerequisite is personal peace with God through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). “He is our peace,” Paul says in Ephesians, and any harmony with others will be short-lived without Him. God reconciled the world to Himself by Jesus Christ and has given to you and I, his children, the “word of reconciliation,” as well (2 Cor. 5:19). We’re commissioned and equipped to make peace, if we will.
But nothing hinders our peace with others more than lack of peace with ourselves. As George Morrison so aptly puts it, “None is so ready to foment a quarrel as he who has a quarrel with his own conscience.” Pointing out flaws and failures in others is the first reaction to known sin in our own lives. But A.W. Tozer has said, “God never intended that we should hide our unconfessed sin behind the confessed faults of a saint.” Confess and forsake is God’s remedy for a heavy conscience, and a light conscience makes for a ready peacemaker.
Then, to really meddle, I would put forth the old adage: “Least said, sooner mended.” Proverbs says it this way, “A froward [contrary] man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends” (16:18); and “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (26:20). One who cannot bridle his or her tongue will never be a one of the blessed peacemakers Jesus talked about. The “quiet” in peace and quiet is very often a quiet tongue!
Finally, I feel compelled to point out that peace at the expense of righteousness is a recipe for both inner and outer conflict. Lying, cheating, or moral cowardice, in order to “keep the peace,” is peace without honor; and will inevitably lead to turmoil and strife.
Sometimes, being a peacemaker will exact a high price from us. It cost our blessed Lord His shed Blood on the Cross (Col. 1:20); so you and I should never be surprised when it costs us, as well. But, oh, the rewards! And if He sought to make a way of peace for us, should we not do the same for others? James has something to say about those who choose the God of peace and “the things that make for peace.”