SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT
Psalm 34:12-14 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good, seek peace, and pursue it. (Peter quotes this text almost word for word in 1 Peter 3:10-11).
If an audience would be asked the question, "How many of you want to have a long, prosperous life while here on earth?" what would be their reply. I venture to say that all hands would go up, replying "I do!" Who would say, "I prefer a short life filled with sadness and despair?" No one. The Psalmist tells us, in these few verses, how to find the good life while here on earth.
We must refrain from speaking evil, from lying, from gossip, from slander, and from all other manners of conversation that can be hurtful to others. We must refrain from deceitful conversations that speak evil for self-satisfying motives. Not only must we recognize and avoid all manner of evil, we must replace it with good deeds performed as acts of love that are void of any selfish motives. And, finally, we must seek peace, and pursue it. Not only must we be a peace-loving individual, but we must seek peace where it does not currently exist. We must search for ways to reconcile ourselves as well as others to adversaries. Sometimes peace is broken and we must seek ways to restore it. Sometimes peace seems to be vanishing away and we must pursue after it and reestablish it before some dire consequence results.
When asked, the gift most often requested for Christmas, most people reply "peace on earth." Although there is an inner peace that is most desirable to everyone, peace with others is theme of this study. This is an external peace that exists or is lacking between people. It can be between family members, between neighbors, between brethren in the body of Christ, between the citizens of our community, state, or nation, as well as between people throughout the world. Peace with others can be as small as between two family members or as large as between different nationalities. Regardless of its scope, it is most desirable and certainly worth seeking and pursuing.
What is peace? There are a number of meanings for peace. It can be described as the freedom from war or civil disturbances on an international level, or freedom from public disorder on a national or local scale that results from law and order and public security. Peace is freedom from disagreements and quarrels that results in harmony and serenity. What is most wonderful about this level of peace, is that love for one another is the rule rather than the exception, good works are prevalent, and God's work abounds. Let us therefore follow after peace, and the things wherewith one may edify another (Romans 14:19). This passage tells us that peace with others is most desirable and certainly worth pursuing.
If peace is so desirable, where do we find it? God is one source. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Another source is Jesus Christ. As Jesus comforted His disciples just before His crucifixion He said, peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you (John 14:27). Peace is also mentioned as one fruit of the Spirit along with many other Christian attributes (Galatians 5:22-23).
If God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, as noted in these few passages, are sources of peace, then how is it obtained? Is peace thrust on a nation as a whole; on an entire community? Will God wave His hand over the Arab and Jewish people and cause peace to exist between these nations? Is peace doled out to all family members so they can settle any disagreements that may exist? If we think that peace is automatically dispensed on people, we will surely be disappointed. It will not happen. As the title of this lesson suggests, peace is something men and women must seek - it is something we must pursue. It does not seek you, rather, to find it, you must search for it; you must diligently seek it.
We find it by being obedient to the will of God. We find it by studying His word and learning how He desires us to conduct our lives. We find it when we read and understand the true meaning of love for God and for our neighbor. Without brotherly love, peace can not be attained. Each of us needs to pursue the thought found in song that says "let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."