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Reprints from 1916 — Follow After Peace

by J Edward Boyd

One thing which should be a prominent characteristic of the followers of Jesus is a peace-loving, peace-seeking disposition. “Let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another.” (Rom. 14:19). “Be at peace among yourselves.” (1 Thess. 5:13). “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” (Rom. 12:18). Peace, then, among ourselves who are within, and peace with those who are without— to this end let us strive with all diligence. Nothing should be held more dear—except truth and principles of righteousness. For it should be well understood that however high is the estimate which is rightly placed upon peace, there is the one price which cannot be paid; no sacrifice of truth, no compromise with error, should be made to attain it. But such is the perversity of human nature that the very price which should not be paid, men are often the most willing to pay. “Be at peace among yourselves.” No matter of mere personal preference or privilege, no private ambition, no individual right, should be permitted to disturb the peace of God’s people. It is better to suffer wrong, actually to be defrauded, than to present the disgraceful spectacle of “brother going to law with brother, and that before unbelievers” (1 Cor. 6). Indeed this does not please the natural man; he thinks rather that he must “stand up for his rights,” “get all that is coming to him,” look out for number one,” etc. Only the man of faith, in whom is the spirit of Christ, can receive this teaching. “He that is of God heareth God’s words.” Abram furnishes us a beautiful example of the man who is willing to surrender personal advantage to preserve peace with a brother. (Gen. 13). “Let there be no strife………..for we are brethren.” If ever a man was in a position to assert his own rights and to contend for them, certainly Abram was at this time; for to him and to his seed had God promised this land. What claim did his nephew have? But instead of following such a course—the course which so strongly appeals to the natural man—he said. “Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” Most ungratefully, so it seems, did Lot take advantage of this generous offer, choosing the best of the land for himself. Did this cause resentment in Abram’s heart? Later he rescued Lot from Sodom’s enemies, who had taken him captive; and when he learned God’s purpose respecting Sodom, he became an intercessor in Lot’s behalf. Lot had met these misfortunes, too, as a result of his selfish choice at the instance of Abram’s generosity. But Abram could well afford to allow him to take the choice; only, however, because he himself was a man of faith and had his portion in Jehovah. “Follow after peace with all men.” Not only are we exhorted to be at peace among ourselves, but we are also to seek to maintain such an attitude toward them who are without. “Resist not him that is evil,” said Jesus. Such teaching certainly leaves no ground for a Christian’s engaging in or taking any part in the strifes and contentions, the wars and tumults, of this world, however justifiable or unavoidable they may seem to the natural mind. To obey our Lord—our ruler—we must refuse to be drawn into such things. An incident in the life of Isaac well illustrates our correct attitude toward the men of the world, and our proper dealings with them. Isaac had been dwelling in Gerar; he had become very great; and Abimelech had said to him, “Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.” So it is evident that no element of fear or sense of weakness influenced his conduct toward them. “And Isaac departed thence, and encamped in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father………..,And the herdsmen of Gerar strove with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours..’ ’’ Here was’just ground for a quarrel surely. For certainly it was rightfully his; whether by right of promise, of inheritance, or of the labor of his own servants. But how did he answer their claim? By digging another well “And for that they strove also.’’ Surely he has borne long enough with them now! Surely now must the “stand for his rights,’’ and defend his possessions against encroachments! But no; for “he removed from thence, and digged another well.” And when it became clear that he was to be let alone in the possession of this third well, Isaac made a statement which reveals the faith that made it possible for him so to conduct himself toward them: “For now Jehovah hath made room for us.” Now Jehovah could have made room for them at the first; but for some good reason He did not do so. He rather allowed the faith of Isaac to be tested by these circumstances; and may no” such circumstances now arise to test the faith of God’s people? For is not “the God of Isaac” our God even today? May we then obey Him in all things, trusting that in His own good time He will make “room for us.”

Not only those who belong to the sects and parties of Christendom are sectarians, but those also who are of a sectarian heart, and maintain a partisan spirit. It is one thing to be loyal to “the cause,” or “the brotherhood,” and another to be loyal to Jesus Christ and the word of God. The two are not compatible. The aims and thoughts of “the brotherhood” are always imperfect, influenced more or less by misconception and even by the pull of the world. But the Lord Jesus Christ is always right, and God’s word is always true. We cannot serve two masters. But he who is loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ is necessarily loyal to the best interests of the brotherhood also to build it up in righteousness and truth; yea and to the best interests of all men everywhere.

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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33