Children of God should play nice in the sandbox

Our differences have the potential to
affect many others if we cannot reconcile.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 – See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

When we are unforgiving toward others, it’s easy for us to repay evil for evil, to repay in kind toward an injustice that may have been directed toward us.

However, Paul here is encouraging the believers to look beyond the injustice to what is good, not only for one another (through a relationship crisis), but good for all concerned.

We tend to lose sight of the fact that all of our relationships have many different tendrils of association beyond just the isolated relationship itself. If an injustice is committed between two friends, the recognition of that injustice can become known to the other associates and friends of that relationship, and can affect many other individuals.

For example, if a romantic couple breaks up due to some differences, then the friends of the couple, who may now know each other independently of the couple who is breaking up, will be affected by the break up. They may choose to continue their relationships as friends, but will need to socially navigate around the issue with the now detached couple-friends.

This is the way issues spread throughout congregations, as well. When social stresses become active within certain relationship groups, it can spread throughout a congregation through shared connections. In the extreme, it can lead to congregations mistrust and sometimes even cause group to split into several groups if it cannot be reconciled.

But therein lies the key to its solution; reconciliation. Paul here is stressing that when these situations arise, that all parties concerned should seek the good of others for the sake of all. What affects one relationship can easily spread beyond the immediate affected group to the wider group through shared connections and relationships. Because of this, the web of unity can become brittle and break.

Paul’s solution is simple, although not always easy: don’t repay evil for evil. If someone has become offended or emotionally hurt in some way, they should not respond in kind, but should seek reconciliation through communicating the offense and working through it until a peaceful result can be achieved. This is a mature response to the casual injustices that occur every day and this should be the evident solution among all believers.

When we are always pursuing what is good for others and for all, we will be operating as peacemakers, and the strength of unity will be reinforced. In this, we can be recognized as acting as true children of God.

Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.


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The foundation of peace

Forgiveness may be simple, but is rarely easy.

Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

To be a peacemaker is to be one who overcomes conflict. An online dictionary defines someone who pacifies as a person who “quells the anger, agitation, or excitement of” others, or a specific situation.

In personal relationships, this can most simply be accomplished through forgiveness. The biblical concept of forgiveness conveys ideas of dismissal or sending away of a burden; a release or letting go of insult or injury; a covering over of an offense or transgression. According to Yeshua, these are the characteristics of the true children of God.

While this may be the simplest way to create peace, it is not always easy. Forgiveness involves rejection of natural feelings of anger at having been offended, or overcoming hurt and real emotional pain. These symptoms of anger and hurt are natural, while indications of forgiveness can seem forced and unnatural. This is why it is difficult and rarely practiced in genuine ways. True forgiveness involves dying to self: the right for the self to be angry, the right for the self to inflict pain back for pain received.

But Yeshua calls us to this higher path of dying to self. Self-sacrifice was the object lesson of his life, culminating in the most widely known object lesson of all; crucifixion of self for the sake of others. Even in the enactment of this ultimate object lesson, he was forgiving those who were physically nailing him to the cross.

Luke 23:33-34 – And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Forgiveness can be offered when one realizes that those causing the offense may not be totally aware of their actions; they are likely acting out reflexively or under the compulsion of their own misguided nature. To rise above these situations is to reject the compulsion to respond in kind, and to choose instead the way of peace and forgiveness.

I was struck recently in learning that the root of the word Jerusalem means “foundation of peace.” That meaning has far-reaching applications throughout biblical interpretation, but none so meaningful as being the eternal habitation of God with his people.

Revelation 21:2-3, 7 – And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. … He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

According to writer of Hebrews, believers have inherited this city already. As such, this “foundation of peace” should be our base of operations, our current and active environment.

Hebrews 12:14, 22-24 – Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness ​– ​without it no one will see the Lord. … you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…

If this is where we live, having died to ourselves, then this is how we should act. We should pursue peace with everyone. This is what sets God’s people apart; this is who we are.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The trucker’s way of making peace

When we provide forgiveness, we give people room.

“How blessed are those who make peace, because it is they who will be called God’s children!

Matthew 5:9

Being a believer in Messiah carries many different challenges and exercises with which we are tested and tried every day. Yeshua desires his followers to be beacons of peace and forgiveness with those around them, so as to provide every opportunity for others to see the uniqueness of God, and us as his representatives in this world.

Being a peacemaker is one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging, of all aspects of the believer’s life. With all of the constant static and swirling, chaotic mass of right and wrong that confronts us in every interaction with others, Yeshua calls us to be messengers of peace. An illustration from driving in traffic may provide an analogy for us to consider.

Let’s assume that a three lane highway has a merging on-ramp with other cars that are seeking to join the main highway traffic. Where the ramp intersects with the freeway is the merging point of both lanes of traffic. Both lines of vehicles have come from different directions and yet are looking to become aligned into a single unified flow of traffic. In order to accomplish this, cars on the entrance ramp need to match their speed to that of the main highway in order to seamlessly merge in between the other cars. However, when traffic has slowed to a crawl, the merging happens less seamlessly, and tempers can flare when on-ramp vehicles begin forcing their way into the existing traffic on the main highway.

What I have noticed is that long-haul truckers that are involved in these types of congested traffic merges have adopted an interesting strategy. Because their rigs are less able to provide instantaneous stop-and-start accuracy with the cars around them, they typically choose to go at a very slow, but steady speed. This allows for large gaps in the traffic to form ahead of them, and the smaller cars around them have much more room to change lanes and join the flow of traffic on the main highway.

In effect, these truckers are acting like the “peacemakers” of the merge; their slow, constant speed provides additional room for cars to zip in and out of the lane ahead of them while they continue slowly and cautiously through the frenzy of lane changing and merging around them. This can be an analogy for us when we are considering our interactions with those in our lives.

If we look at the course of our day as the highway, then the people who come and go in our lives throughout our day are merging with us for a while and then exiting off our path or highway onto their other destinations. If we adopt the trucker strategy and allow them the additional “room” to merge and exit, we can find that our lives are much less stressful. We are not having to constantly hit the brakes or accelerate to accommodate their entrance and exits. We can still move toward our destination, albeit a little more slowly than we may have hoped, as we encounter this inevitable “traffic” in our journey each day.

This trucker strategy of giving people room is one of the most practical ways to keep peace.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.