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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Keep the Peace

It's what the Holy Spirit would do.

Living the Truth (4)

Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” Genesis 26.21, 22

Preserving peace
Abimelech wasn’t the only one who saw a threat in Isaac. Local herdsmen also observed his growing wealth and power and felt a strong need to secure what they regarded as their privileges. Wells were a precious commodity in those days, as water is in any era. The local herdsmen among whom Isaac had settled insisted that the wells he was using were theirs, even though they had been dug by Isaac’s father, Abraham.

Rather than fight about it, Isaac moved on, leaving the water in those wells to the unjust locals. He could always dig new wells somewhere else, and he did.

But that wasn’t the end of it. His neighbors again claimed ownership over his wells, so Isaac decided to move one more time. He seems to have been determined not to provoke his neighbors over their claims to local water rights. He preferred to be wronged rather than to fight with them over what he knew to be his own properties. After all, he was a guest in their land and so, in a certain sense, they probably had some prior claim to whatever wells he may have dug.

Isaac had learned that God would provide for him wherever he went, and he was more interested in preserving peace with his neighbors than insisting on, and perhaps fighting for, his rights.

Willing to be wronged?
The apostles counsel us to seek to live peaceably with our unbelieving neighbors. Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12.18). He continued, “Repay no one evil for evil…do not avenge yourselves…” (Rom. 12.17, 19). Paul advised against getting caught up in contentious disputes with unbelievers (2 Tim. 2.24). He wrote that we should be willing even to be wronged rather than to insist on what is rightfully ours, if by doing so we can keep someone from stumbling into more sin (1 Cor. 6.1-8).

Peter says we should relate to our unbelieving neighbors with reverence and respect (1 Pt. 3.15), looking to the example of Jesus and being willing to suffer wrong rather than insisting on our own way or demanding our rights (1 Pt. 2.21-23; 3.8, 9).

This is a great challenge for any of us. Whenever someone has wronged us, either by words or deeds, our first inclination is to set them straight.

Our next is to get back at them.

Certainly, we must attempt to clear up any misunderstandings that arise between us and our unsaved neighbors. And if we’ve wronged someone or failed in our duties of love, we should humbly admit our mistake and seek forgiveness.

But we cannot keep unbelievers from feeling discomfort with us and, as a result, sometimes treating us in unjust ways. The Gospel is not advanced, and the glory of God is not served, by born-again Christians whining about every slight and demanding their just due at every turn.

Followers of the Prince of Peace
The more we try to avoid strife and contention, the more we embody the lifestyle of the Prince of Peace. There’s nothing becoming about Christians who want to argue over every issue or make a big deal out of every act of unfairness. Jesus, after all, set aside all His rights and privileges to come among us as a servant and be obedient even unto death. Paul commands us to always have the mind of Christ within us, and this can mean that we will be victims of injustice or petty slights, simply because we are bearing fruit and multiplying in the Lord.

At such times we might need to give others space and, like Isaac, just move on. Even if we’ve been wronged, it’s not always necessary to set things straight. We’ll do more for the glory of the Lord and the peace of Christ if, by simply moving peaceably along, we keep from raising a ruckus and creating unnecessary disruptions in our workplace or with our neighbors.

We do not need to achieve vindication or just deserts in this life. God will vindicate His people in His own way and time. For our part, we must continue to show His grace and truth to an unjust age, and that can mean giving people space at times – when we’d rather stand and put up a fight.

Keep the peace of the Prince of Peace. His Presence with you will be palpable, and He will provide for all your needs.

For reflection
1. What would you say are the keys for you living as a peacemaker with the people around you?

2. In which parts of your Personal Mission Field might you expect to encounter opposition or injustice? How should you prepare for dealing with that?

3. Peace is one aspect of the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives (Gal. 5.22, 23). What can you do to make sure the peace of Jesus is increasing in you?

Next steps: Today you will have opportunities to work your Personal Mission Field. Are you preparing for that even now – by going to prayer, seeking the Lord’s wisdom in how to relate to and serve the people around you? Today, try to initiate a conversation with some of the people in your Personal Mission Field – a conversation you might be able to turn toward spiritual things. If you feel a need to back off and give others space, don’t hesitate to do so.

T. M. Moore

Help your friends get started working their Personal Mission Fields as well. Order copies of The Gospel of the Kingdom and Joy to Your World! for your friends. You can order these free resources by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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