Slow to Wrath
“He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
But he who is impulsive exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29).
Solomon had an understanding of human nature that leaves us in awe, and a person who masters the principles in Solomon’s teaching indeed rises above the norm. He wasn’t alone in his instruction about anger, but he was one of the most effective.
A person who can maintain self-control, even when severely provoked, shows his understanding of the fact that a public demonstration of his emotional feelings only brings shame to himself—it doesn’t win anyone to his cause.
The lesson is for us to think first before we speak. Such behavior shows that we are not foolish nor impulsive, it will gain the respect of our fellows, and it will be a powerful example for those around us to follow.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5.9).
Jesus pronounces this blessing in His first recorded sermon in what are called The Beatitudes when He is speaking to the multitudes on the mountain. He is teaching these people some of the characteristics of those who will become a part of His coming kingdom.
To be a peacemaker is quite different from living peaceably. A peacemaker is one who brings about peace or, at least, one who actively works to reconcile others who are not at peace. Jesus Himself is the Prince of Peace; so, it is only fitting that His followers serve as agents to help others find peace.
This passage places the role of peacemaker at the top of any list: all serious spiritually-minded people want to be called a son (or a daughter) of God; thus, we must take to heart this challenge to be a peacemaker.
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
Followers of Christ are under a mandate to maintain a peaceable relationship with all of the people around them, both Christians and non-Christians. Paul reinforces that mandate in this verse.
Such a direct mandate might be confusing if it were not for the two qualifiers that precede it. The first qualifier is that it must be within the realm of possibility. It is not always possible to live peaceably when truth is under fire—that is, when God’s will is violated or when we are commanded to perform some act that is in violation of God’s will.
The second qualifier, “as much as depends on you,” really means “do as much as you can to be at peace with others.” So, a lack of peace cannot be because we are just causing trouble or because we can’t control our temper. Unless hindered by one or both of these qualifiers, then, we are commanded to live in peace with others.
A Study of the Fruit of the Spirit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22).
The kind of “peace” taught in this passage is both inward and outward. A person who has allowed himself to come under the teachings of the Spirit and who has internalized those traits into his thinking and behavior will find tranquility within himself and will demonstrate that tranquility toward God and others.
In Christ, we have the peace that passes all human understanding because we know the everlasting hope that belongs to the faithful—it is a peace within our soul. As well, we demonstrate that peace toward others as we interact with them in our daily activities.
This peace is set in contrast to the divisive, factious spirit that the apostle has just condemned under the works of the flesh. With real peace, those negative qualities go away; and we exist harmoniously with our fellow Christians, the church operates harmoniously, and we maintain a peaceful relationship with God.
“Great peace have those who love your law, And nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).
The psalmist here picks up on something the world craves but has little idea about how to find: peace. Many believe peace is achieved when one manipulates people and situations into a comfortable position in which there is no conflict.
Real peace comes, however, for those who love the law of the Lord and internalize it so much that it becomes the dominant factor in their lives. Then it will guide them so they can make decisions that lead to contentment and serenity rather than dismay and heartache.
It is not that their lives are free from difficulties: but it is that they have the spiritual resources readily available to cope with whatever comes in their lives.
Peace with God is a peace experienced only when a person has a covenant relationship with Him. When we have that kind of relationship, the word itself becomes our line of defense against stumbling or leaving the Lord.
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