“Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other” (1 Thessalonians 5:13 NIV).
The first-century church embraced those who differed greatly in personality, culture, socio-economic background, and emotional makeup. The same remains true of the modern-day church as well. Therefore, living in peace with those who hail from divergent walks of life continues to present a significant challenge. One commentary alerts us to the importance of this idea in a forthright manner…
“The exhortation ‘be at peace among yourselves’ is no incidental insertion. The number one problem among Christians everywhere is the problem of getting along with each other. Every believer has enough of the flesh in him to divide and wreck any local church. Only as empowered by the Spirit can we develop the love, brokenness, forbearance, kindness, tender-heartedness, and forgiveness that are indispensable for peace. A particular threat to peace which Paul may be warning against is the formation of cliques around human leaders.” (1)
Another source builds upon this warning to avoid dividing into factions…
“Though division is ungodly, it is not wrong to make distinctions between churches and ministers. God has made different churches and different ministries with different callings and characters, because the job of preaching the gospel is too big for any one group. It is one thing to prefer one minister to another, but we cannot divide into cliques behind one minister or another.” (2)
While living in peace with others may seem elusive or unachievable, the peace that God offers through Christ is our model for peace in our interpersonal relationships. Since God has forgiven us in Christ, we ought to follow His good example in seeking peace in our relationships with others. In addition, we should also recognize that we are individually responsible to God and will eventually answer to Him if we do not seek to act upon this admonition to “Live in peace with each other.” As Paul the Apostle wrote to the church at Rome…
“As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone. Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay’.
… these are God’s words: ‘Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head’. Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered with evil. Take the offensive—overpower evil by good!” (Romans 12:18-21 Phillips).
(1) William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary 1 Thessalonians 5:13, pg.2042
(2) Guzik, Dave 1 Corinthians 1 – Jesus, the Wisdom of God http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/4601.htm