Hebrews – Chapter Twelve XXIV

by Ed Urzi

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 NIV).

While this verse implies that it may be impossible to live in peace with everyone, that should not prevent us from attempting to do so. For example, “living in peace with everyone” may sometimes require us to overlook faults, ignore slights (intentional or unintentional), and pardon others, even in those circumstances where they are clearly wrong.

You see, a God-honoring person who has been wronged must weigh their options in choosing how to respond. For instance, we may choose to retaliate against those who are responsible for our injuries. Or we can accept the fact that we have been wronged and prayerfully move forward. In other words, we can choose to forgive, or we can choose to pursue a different course. We can choose to reflect God’s mercy towards us in Christ, or we can seek to enforce our rights without regard for the way that choice might reflect upon Christ.

It has been said that it takes two to keep the peace, but a man or woman of God must not be the one who is responsible for breaking it. In certain situations, we might be well advised to simply “…put up with injustice” (HCSB) as we’re told in 1 Corinthians 6:7. Sometimes, it may be preferable to simply accept the loss (whether real or perceived) and move on.

The book of Romans offers another perspective to consider…

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NIV).

If we have been treated unfairly, this passage tells us that God will come to our defense if we permit Him do so in His own time and way. Of course, the challenge involved in taking this approach is that it often requires us to exercise (or develop) the qualities of patience, humility, and perseverance. This may explain why God sometimes chooses to allow such circumstances to enter our lives.

As one commentator concludes, “Thus in the case of the Christian, suffering is God’s educational process by which he is fitted to share God’s holiness.” (1) As Jesus also reminded us in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

(1) New International Bible Commentary general editor G. C. D. Howley, consulting editors F. F. Bruce, H. L. Ellison. Copyright© 1979 by Pickering & Inglis Ltd [pg. 1529]