“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14
When is the last time you “made every effort” to accomplish something? Better yet, when did you last “exhaust” yourself for the sake of something, anything? I can remember the last half marathon I ran. It wasn’t pretty. Foolishly, I spent little time training for race day, and for the two weeks leading up to the race, I charged right through training, starting with 1 mile and ending with 13.1. Not very bright, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but needless to say, I paid the price come race day. My muscles had not had sufficient time to prepare themselves for the big run, and it took me days to recover after the race. I can hardly remember a time when I was so exhausted and pulling on every ounce of mental toughness I could conjure up just to make it to the finish line in one piece. I was exhausted. I gave every last bit of effort and extended all the energy I had, but I did cross the finish line. Exhausted.
Perhaps now we have a better picture of what we’re looking at today in Hebrews 12:14. When the writer of Hebrews instructs us to “make every effort”, the word “exhaust” should come to mind. Rather, when relational conflict arises, we tend to ignore, avoid, relocate, or even brush it under the rug, taking the elephant in the room approach, and we tend to do this with the sad excuse of, “I’m just not a confrontational person.” I’m not suggesting that God desires us to be confrontational, at least not in the way that we understand that word, but He does desire that we live at peace with everyone. It says it right here in His Word.
So what does this mean for you and I as we live out this thing called life, day in and day out? Well, first it requires a large dose of humility. Let’s face it, you are not always right. Neither am I. Of course, we know that in our heads, but for some reason, that knowledge hasn’t transferred to our hearts. Certainly we’ve been wronged, insulted, offended, or unappreciated. Ok, well so was Christ, and part of following Him would be to count the cost and to share in His sufferings. Suffering as Christ suffered makes us more like Christ. Secondly, I would suggest to you today that you can be “right” but still be “wrong” depending on how you handle the situation. This is a tough lesson I’m learning as of late. Do you know what I mean? I’m not saying to lie down and become someone’s doormat, but every point does not always need to be made. Again, embrace humility, and as Christ, consider others better than yourself (Philippians 2). Sometimes the greater obedience is to simply close our mouths, bite the tongue, and listen. Maybe this is the catalyst in “living at peace with all men”. Proverbs tells us that where there are many words, there is sin. Not surprising, as one who talks A LOT, I fully understand the weight of that truth.
The conviction I have been carrying lately and one I’d like to pass on to you all today is this:
Are you seeking to be a peacemaker or are you more concerned with being right?
Sadly, I must confess that although my words would resound more with the former, my actions have more often spoken the latter. However, I want to change. I want to be more like Jesus. I want to be humble. I want to be a peacemaker. Let us agree to today to seek peace and pursue it.