June 09, 2012

The Priority of Peace

Matthew 5:23-26

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
—Psalm 34:14


What could be more important than going to church to bring praises and offerings to God together with his people? In his message in Matthew 5, Jesus says that if we know someone has a conflict with us, we need to go and straighten things out before approaching God in worship.

We often think that if someone harbors a bad feeling toward us, it’s their responsibility to approach us, especially if we think we have not caused their complaint. “My mother-in-law won’t come to our home, and I don’t know why,” Laura said, explaining her problems to her friend. “I guess I’ll just have to wait until she is ready to tell me.” But Jesus says, “Don’t wait; it’s your move.”

Why should we pursue peacemaking even if we don’t think it’s our fault? First, separation between believers is the wrong witness to the world around us. What’s more, you may have done something to frustrate that other person without knowing it. Or perhaps you may not have. But it’s helpful to know either way. We may find forgiveness for a sin or clear up a misunderstanding. Both are pleasing to God.

In addition, in our love for others, we don’t want them to allow grudges to grow in their hearts. If we can help others to resolve their conflicts, especially with us, we should take the initiative toward healing.

Lord of my life, it can be hard to obey your command to offer my love to others. Give me courage to pursue peace with grace wherever there’s a problem. Amen.

About the author — David Zandstra

David Zandstra is a retired pastor living in Marietta, Georgia, having served five churches from New Jersey to California. Along with other ministries, he counsels clients of a pregnancy resource center. He acknowledges his indebtedness to the training and resources of Peacemaker Ministries. David and his wife, Margie, have three children and six grandchildren.

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