“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”                    ~ Mother Teresa

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”                    ~ Francis of Assisi

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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UNDERSTANDING PEACE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
At Sunday school a few weeks ago, our young professionals group examined the biblical meaning of the word “peace.” After reviewing definitions from a number of sources, and considering these definitions against scripture, we arrived at a succinct definition:

Unity absent conflict

While not typically included within a secular definition, unity is an essential component of biblical peace. When realizing that unity is necessary for biblical peace, we should become aware that how we pursue such peace differs from the traditional, secular definition of the word. While some people may seek “peace and quiet” by avoiding others and finding environments absent noise and disturbance, biblical peace cannot be achieved in this manner. For Christians, biblical peace is about establishing healthy relationship with God and others. Moreover, it requires believers to be at peace with all people (including non-believers) as much as it depends on them (Romans 12:18).

The Christian understanding of God’s being is emblematic of biblical peace. Christians believe in a Trinitarian God—three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one God—existing in perfect harmony. God is never at conflict with Himself. As sinners, the same cannot be said of our relationship with Him.

No wonder that one of Jesus’ many titles is the “Prince of Peace.” As the Messiah, Jesus serves as intercessor between man and God. His crucifixion—a selfless and perfect sacrifice—functions as atonement with God for those who believe and follow Him:

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, NASB).

Stated differently, His sacrifice removes conflict between Christians and God, allowing for harmonious relationship (peace) with God in the kingdom of heaven—His (agape) love allows for peace:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NASB).

Thus, God’s love offers us forgiveness of our sins. This is the power of the resurrection. Christ conquers sin through a perfect love that allows us healthy relationship (peace) with God through forgiveness of our sins. This realization helps provide a clearer understanding of what Christ likely means when He says:

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23, NASB).

I believe that Christ is commanding us to exhibit (agape) love for Him and others, living with humility of spirit and forgiving hearts that allow for healthy relationships. Through the resurrection, He is providing us the model for pursuing and achieving peace with both God and others. Simply put, the peace we all desire emanates from the love and forgiveness that Christ demonstrates:

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me…” (John 14:27-31, NASB).

The aforementioned scripture alludes to the peace we are provided through Jesus’ crucifixion (i.e. peace I leave with you), resurrection (i.e. peace I give to you), and ascension (i.e. I go away) into heaven.

But what does it mean for us to love and forgive others as Christ loves and forgives us? How do we love as Christ loves us? How do we forgive as Christ forgives us?

Just as the biblical definition of peace differs slightly—yet, significantly—from its secular definition, so too do the biblical definitions of love and forgiveness when compared with their secular counterparts. The following two sections provide us clarification regarding 1) what it is to exhibit God’s love for others, and 2) how we, as Christians, are to forgive others. After which, I conclude by considering the applications of biblically defined peace, love, and forgiveness within our lives.

HEARTS FILLED WITH GOD’S LOVE
When we read English translations of the bible, the word love loses some of its specificity. For instance, in original Greek versions of the bible, what is translated as “love” could have been one of four different Greek words: Agape, Phileo, Eros, and Storge. My current intention is not to elaborate on all four loves, but rather to bring greater clarification in distinguishing the characteristics representative of “God’s love.” The Greek word that is consistently used in scripture to distinguish God’s love is “agape.”

Agape love represents God’s character, for scripture tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Agape love is an unconditional love that requires us to love all people:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48, NASB).

The following bullet-points list out some of the prominent characteristics of agape love as depicted through scripture:

  • Self-sacrificing (i.e. humility)
  • Placing others above ourselves (i.e. humility)
  • Seeks peace (i.e. relationship and community)
  • Asks forgiveness (i.e. repentant)
  • Grants forgiveness (i.e. humility)
  • Speaks by Truth (i.e. encourages and confronts)
  • Depends on Truth (i.e. depends on God)
  • Follows Truth (i.e. exhibits wisdom of obeying God)

All these characteristics are fulfilled when we follow the greatest commandment:

And He [Jesus] said to him [a lawyer], “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40, NASB).

And to be able to exhibit agape love necessitates that we also possess faith. Love and faith function hand-in-hand in the life of a Christian:

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” (Romans 10:6-11, NASB).

Faith requires more than belief, but also trust in God’s character. For, if we cannot trust God’s character, then how can we believe in His (agape) love—the essence of His character? And if we do not believe in His (agape) love, then how can we claim to know God?  How can we have true faith?

“The one who does not (agape) love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

For if we have faith in God, then we must trust His character—we must experience His love and know that it is His love. The degree to which we know His (agape) love corresponds with how well we know God. And knowing His (agape) love allows us to (agape) love both God and others, for “we (agape) love, because He first (agape) loved us” (1 John 4:19, NASB). Thus, the origin of our (agape) love is Christ’s (agape) love for us. And the motivation and capability for exhibiting (agape) love starts with the (agape) love that we possess for Christ!

Simply, (agape) love is the foundation for establishing healthy, peace-oriented relationships and communities—a foundation built upon Christ’s character, representing the Holy body:

“Therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed’” (Isaiah 28:16, NASB).

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone” (Psalm 118:22, NASB).

“There is no one holy like the Lord. Indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2, NASB).

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11, NASB).

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21, NASB).

A follower’s love is not always a feeling love. Another aspect of (agape) love that we need to recognize is that it is not a feeling, but the essence of how we live. While we may simultaneously feel deep affectionate (phileo) love for someone, that deep affection is not something that is necessarily present at all times with (agape) love. If anything, agape love is so powerful—being the highest order of love—that it allows us to overcome feelings that would engender us to act outside of God’s goodness. It is our love, trust, and subsequent obedience in God—out of His love for us—that allows us to love unconditionally.

Jesus commands us to exhibit (agape) love towards others; loving one another as He has loved us. It is from the presence of (agape) love in our words and deeds that others will know that we are His followers:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:33-35, NASB).

This understanding also provides some clarity of how we should interpret the below scripture from the book of John:

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you (agape) love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I (phileo) love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you (agape) love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I (phileo) love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you (phileo) love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you (phileo) love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I (phileo) love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep” (John 21:15-19, NASB).

Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him; asking him three times. The first two times, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you agape me?” Peter responds both times with “Yes, Lord; you know that I phileo you? The last time, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you phileo me?” and Peter responds, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I phileo you.”

While Jesus is asking for Peter to love unconditionally (agape), Peter is telling Jesus that he has a deep affection for Him (phileo). The love Jesus is emphasizing and asking of His followers is that which is driven by self-sacrificing and loving deed (apage), even when we are not feeling deep affection (phileo). While Peter has deep affection for Christ, he is prideful and self-reliant—trusting Himself more than Christ during the time of this event.

Jesus apparently challenges Peter in this manner as preparation for the role for which He shall inherit—leader of the earthly kingdom of Christ’s followers. Christ humbles Peter, and establishes expectations for exhibiting (agape) love that must have seemed unattainable for his ambitious disciple. Christ is laying the groundwork for Peter to understand that he [Peter] must depend on Him [Christ]. Peter must understand that the (agape) love that He is to possess for Christ and others must be unrelenting and persevering. It must endure through emotions, deceptions, and physical suffering. He will be at the epicenter of spiritual warfare.

However, this distinction between agape and phileo I present above is not to suggest that deep affection (phileo) for someone is unhealthy or undesirable. Rather, it suggests that there is…

A need to understand how various types of love influence one another. Personally, I believe that the healthier our actions [i.e. our dependence on God and obedience to His Word], the more frequent those moments of deep affection (phileo) will be present in our lives. Based on how I currently understand scripture, deep affection (phileo) is a byproduct of living a life founded on (agape) love. In other words, we cannot depend on deep affection for others as justification to (agape) love them. For these two types of love to possess a healthy presence in our lives, the one (phileo) must manifest—or arise—from the other (agape).

For instance, I have to believe that if phileo for someone develops from eros, then the basis for that deep affection (phileo) is unhealthy. However, if deep affection (phileo) for someone develops out of (agape) love, and friendship (storge), then such affection is emanating from a healthy place. This healthy presence of deep affection (phileo) may lead to a healthy presence of romantic love (eros) in a marriage (or a relationship that may lead to marriage—though only consummated in a complete sense once married).

Therefore, we must be aware of the types of love that we permit to motivate our actions, and the priority we place upon each. Moreover, we must be aware of the causes for the presence of certain types of love in our lives, and whether they are arising from healthy behaviors. And, as a Christian, exhibiting (agape) love towards God and others should always hold precedence in our decision-making. (Agape) love should always be our priority and basis for establishing healthy relationships and community—its source being Christ.

Trusting the eternal nature of agape love. An aspect of agape love that often seems to be overlooked is its eternal nature. Consider the following scripture from the first book to the Corinthians:

“[Agape] Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).

Why is love greater than faith and hope? Paul is speaking to the Church in Corinth about the end times, when there will not be a need for either faith or hope. When that time comes, as it was for doubting Thomas, all will be revealed. We will not need to have faith or hope because all will be known. Of these three, only (agape) love—the love that represents Christ’s character—will continue eternally. And His followers will experience His perfect (agape) love forever in His presence from that time forward…

Trusting in the eternal nature of (agape) love is essential for making decisions from it that have eternal consequences. For, it is from this eternal (agape) love that comes the ability for eternal relationship (peace); it serving as the means to restore relationship and community with others through forgiveness.

FORGIVING AS WE HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN
As the prior section illustrates, the presence of (agape) love is what should drive our behaviors towards God and others. Subsequently, the presence of (agape) love allows for true, biblical forgiveness. True forgiveness requires an open and tender heart, full of (agape) love:

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12, ESV)

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, ESV).

In one of His conversations with Peter, Jesus clarifies for me what it means to truly forgive someone:

“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-23, NASB).

Consider that Peter initiates this discussion. Peter approaches Jesus and asks Him how many times he must grant forgiveness to another person. Peter is obviously trying to establish a limit for when, as Christ’s follower, he no longer needs to forgive someone. He suggests that seven times may be appropriate—a number that has significant meaning in Jewish law. As we both know, granting forgiveness is hard, and Peter wants to know when enough is enough. Well, Jesus responds by telling Peter that he must forgive others “seventy times seven” times; emphasizing that forgiveness is something that Christians should always grant to others. But such understanding of forgiveness misses a deeper and more important aspect of forgiveness that I had previously neglected to notice.

To truly forgive someone requires more than telling them that we forgive them, but it requires us to engage in some very specific behaviors too. It requires that we relinquish our control; loosening our grip over the situation. We must surrender control to Christ, and follow Him by obeying His Word. Christ makes it clear that to forgive others requires us to allow for some form of relationship afterwards. Consider that there’d be no need to forgive someone a second time if we controlled all future circumstances to prohibit that person back into our community (2 Corinthians 5:8). Rather, we would be putting up the high gates that scripture warns us will lead to our destruction (Proverbs 17:19).

Consider too, the words that Jesus gave us to pray—the Lord’s Prayer. When we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” are we not intending to ask for His grace, and the opportunity to spend eternity in His glory? However, if we exclude others from our lives who repentantly ask us for forgiveness, what then are we asking Him to do with us?

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25, ESV).

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15, ESV).

When we do not forgive others, we are passing judgment (i.e. condemnation) upon that person. We are condemning them for their actions, deciding that their offenses do not warrant forgiveness:

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37, ESV)

Any professed follower of Christ that does not seek peace with another is not functioning within the body of Christ. We should encourage our brothers and sisters to forgive those who commit harm upon them. Not only does it demonstrate the (agape) love of Christ to others, it also serves as a source of our own healing.

Christ commands us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31, NASB). Who would not want to be forgiven when they cause harm to another? Who would not want to be provided the means to repair damage done by their actions? Who would not want to be offered a means to heal?

Remember, Christ did not come for the righteous, but for the sick:

He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:13-17, ESV).

And for all those self-proclaimed “healthy” people out there—reconsider that self-made diagnosis. Even those who often exhibit healthy behaviors are “broken” in some capacity. We all are “sick” for we are all sinners:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NASB).

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6, NASB).

Nor can any of us heal ourselves. Our healing, our salvation, is a gift of grace granted to us through Christ’s love:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Thus, with (agape) love and humility, may we demonstrate compassion towards others with forgiveness in our hearts, through our words, and by our actions (Colossians 3:17). May we all seek to establish an environment that encourages an eternal peace for all in the kingdom of heaven.

Beloved brothers and sisters, may we forgive as we have been forgiven.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
After attempting to bring substance and meaning to the biblical definitions of peace, love, and forgiveness throughout this writing, I now want to discuss some challenges that we may encounter with the application of these concepts. The challenges that I have identified inherently revolve around relationships (e.g. acquaintances, friends, family, spouse, God, etc.) and the communities of which we are part; considering that the biblical concept of peace is inclusive of others (i.e. harmony in relationships and community)—(agape) love and forgiveness serving as the source and means for achieving peace respectively.

As I often state, I do not consider what I am sharing to be a comprehensive list of challenges one may face when trying to achieve peace through (agape) love and forgiveness. In some ways, I consider what I share to serve as thought starters, because new challenges arise every day. It seems that the complexity surrounding our social worlds are ever increasing. This leads me to the first challenge that I see in applying these concepts in our lives:

Not acknowledging the complexity of life. We as people tend to view situations and circumstances dichotomously. Things are either good or they are bad. Unfortunately, in context of a situation, circumstance, event, or person, this is rarely true—especially with relationships. Certain behaviors may be good or bad within a relationship, but the entire relationship? And any relationship (acquaintance, friend, family, or spouse) between two followers of Christ? God should be present in some capacity between believers:

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20, NASB).

How can such relationships be “bad” in an absolute, biblical sense if God is present? We need to understand that life is complex, the situations in which we find ourselves are similar but unique to other situations, and that our best relationships with others will always require effort and investment to maintain. Too often, I believe that we take the “easy way out,” and avoid people when conflict arises. In such moments, we often ignore the “good” aspects of a relationship, and only focus on what is currently “bad.” Unfortunately, this is typically a long-term decision that is made from a short-term perspective, ignoring its long-term implications. While the so-called “easy way out” is typically done to find peace, it nearly always creates scenarios that make it impossible to rest in peace.

I have always cringed when I hear someone say that “relationships are not supposed to be this hard.” My response to this statement usually points out that we should expect relationships to be difficult–especially in the earlier stages–when it involves two broken people (note: we are all broken people). Furthermore, we live in a fallen world at battle with sin—we’re constantly engaged in spiritual warfare. When someone says that “relationships are not supposed to be this hard” they are quitting on the other person or himself/herself. Sometimes, they are giving up on the idea of committed relationships altogether. This is an extremely dangerous mindset. When Paul writes to the Church in Rome, he is in prison, and was soon to be killed by the Roman government. Yet, consider what he writes to the Church under such circumstances:

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:9-18, NIV).

Paul is telling Christ’s followers to hold onto an eternal perspective of (agape) love and joy. He is telling them to look past the afflictions that they are enduring in the present moment, and to trust that Christ is with them. He is encouraging them to avoid the snares of fear, pain, persecution, pride, and the like—to refuse them power in their lives. He is reminding them to trust in Christ’s sovereignty, and His love for them—that we are to believe that peace will ultimately reign eternal, and that we are to work towards that end right now. Our actions should reflect that belief. I would suggest that Paul, like myself, believes that many worthwhile relationships are not easy, but rather extremely difficult. Paul is reminding the Christians in Rome that they must work diligently towards developing healthy and loving relationships with everyone, as much as it depends upon them. And so must we.

I’m just glad that Jesus didn’t tell His Father, “Relationships are not supposed to be this hard. I don’t deserve to be crucified. I think I’m just going to come back Home now. Let’s leave these obstinate people to themselves.”

Sadly, rather than “take up the cross daily (Luke 9:23),” what many of His professed believers do daily is contrary to Christ’s command. Let us not be one of those individuals, for…

Indefinitely avoiding others prevents healing for all involved. I have yet to find scripture that suggests that complete avoidance of others is a Christian practice. It is concerning when Christians choose to ostracize others from their lives in a complete sense, for it goes against the teachings of Christ—it often seems to be evidence of a hard heart, and an unwillingness to forgive. Those serving others as members of the body of Christ should never intentionally avoid one another in an absolute sense. I believe that such behavior is often an acknowledgement of unresolved conflict. Until that conflict is resolved, both parties involved cannot experience peace as it pertains to that relationship. These individuals will carry “baggage” until they let it go. And consider…

…How can someone “let it go” if another person is holding their offenses against them? And how can that person who is holding an offense over another person ever move on from the incident, when they are obviously holding onto the harm done to them with a tight grip; allowing that transgression to harden their heart. If someone continues such behavior over the course of their lives, they will increasingly struggle to have healthy relationships, as the weight of their baggage will burden them in all aspects of their life.

That is why I believe that we, as Christians, are called to be forgiving through the (agape) love of Christ; allowing for restoration of relationships—just as Christ did for us. When we are unwilling to come together and forgive one another as Christ commands, we—considering that Christ is the source of peace—are denying peace to that person.

I am not asserting that relationships should always look the same once forgiveness is granted. Frankly, this seems to be a gray area for me as it pertains to my understanding of scripture. Hopefully, if both people are serious about glorifying God through their relationships, then their relationship with one another should eventually develop into a healthier one than existed previously. In circumstances with non-believers or the unrepentant, there may be need to establish certain boundaries that encourage healthy relationship while discouraging sinful interaction. And as relationships evolve and people mature (or digress), those boundaries may relax (or become more restrictive). Though, I believe that Christians should always allow others the opportunity for healthy relationship in some capacity, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ:

“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NASB).

Yet, relationships are not (nor ever should be) one-sided. And our influence on others—whether our influence is predominantly good or bad—is dependent on them. For…

We cannot control the choices or behaviors of other people. Remember back to what Paul writes to the Romans:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18, NASB).

Not everyone in whom we come into contact will possess our beliefs and convictions—not even other professed Christians. While I only share what I believe to be scriptural Truth, others may disagree. Personally, I take great effort not to present anything that could function as false teaching. This is why I always attempt to view everything in scripture through a lens that focuses on Christ. And if someone reading my posts believes that I am “twisting” scripture; creating a false teaching—please confront me, for:

“It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man than to listen to the song of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:5, NASB).

and:

“better is open rebuke than love that is concealed” (Proverbs 27:5, NASB).

As I close, I hope and pray that we all live as ambassadors for Christ, continually pursuing peace through (agape) love. An (agape) love that fosters an environment of forgiveness towards others, and allows for healthy relationship with the repentant.

Amen.

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4 thoughts on “Peace through Love and Forgiveness

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