Summary: Let's talk about the practical steps to take to make peace with others.
1 Corinthians 6:1-8 Peacemaking, II
5/25/03 D. Marion Clark
Last Sunday we observed the failure of the Corinth Church to handle conflict between its members. There were three lessons we noted that we essential to get into the right mindset for making peace. The first was understanding that the gospel applies to every aspect of our lives. Thus, we are always to apply the principles of the gospel to every situation we encounter, including when we come into conflict with others. Two, we need to grasp what it means to belong to a covenant community. Until we see ourselves as belonging to one another in Christ, we will not make the difficult effort to reconcile our differences. Three, we must get a handle on the real priorities of life. We need to put serving God’s kingdom ahead of taking care of our earthly comforts. Once we do, we are in strong position to handle personal offenses received in life.
What are practical steps to take to make peace with others? To discuss these, I am using the outline given by Ken Sande in his book, Peacemakers, as well as many of his ideas. The first step he lists is “Glorify God.”
Because I like doctrine so much, I will rephrase it to be “Get Right Doctrine”! The lessons from the previous message teach the principle that our beliefs guide our behavior. That is why I emphasize doctrine as much as I do. It is essential to have right doctrine, but even more essential to own right doctrine. To put it another way, our hearts must follow our heads, so that we do not merely believe good doctrine, but we embrace it.
Here, for example, is a doctrine that one must embrace to have peace and practice the principles of peacemaking. God is sovereign and will provide for his people. We all believe this basic doctrine. How well do we embrace it? Do we embrace it enough to be cheated and still seek the good of the one who cheated us? Are we able to trust that God is in control and thus have inner peace regardless of whether or not we are vindicated? If so, obtaining peace with the one who has offended us becomes much more possible. Even more important, it turns the circumstance into a wonderful opportunity to glorify God and witness for the gospel. God is sovereign. He is in control of what happens. Can you embrace that doctrine? Can you believe with your heart what Jesus taught in Matthew 10:29-31? Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Here is another doctrine: God has made us to glorify him. We exist, and we have been redeemed, that we might glorify God. Again, no one would dispute this doctrine, but does it influence the way we deal with conflict? When someone takes advantage of us – when a friend plays a trick on us, a colleague takes credit for our work, and so – do we think first how we might glorify God in the situation? Do we think that God has allowed the incident to happen so that we might glorify him by our response? What I am saying is just another way of stating the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” His total mindset was how he might glorify his Father. Such an attitude would go a long way to effecting peacemaking, wouldn’t it?
Part of our problem is that we do not explore the implications of our doctrine. What is the gospel? It is that Christ has reconciled us to God through his death on the cross. Simple enough. Consider the implications, though, for peacemaking. If God the Son would sacrifice himself to make peace for us with God, how important should making peace with others be? Do you think that his work at peacemaking is behind his comment, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9)?
Step one, then, is to learn right doctrine, embrace it, and apply it in practical ways to our relations with others. In doing so, we will glorify God. What is the next step?
Get the Log Our of Your Eye
Sande identifies it as “Get the Log Out of Your Eye.” He, of course, gets the idea from Jesus’ words: Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).