A Simple Command That Will Require Your Strictest ObedienceNovember 26, 2017
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
— Romans 14:19
There are so many opportunities for distrust and lack of peace in this world that we as believers must make it our aim to follow after things that make for peace. In fact, this was the commandment that the apostle Paul gave to the Romans when he addressed them in Romans 14:19. What you are about to read applies to friendships, church congregations, churches in the same community, marriages, sibling relationships, and so on.
The verse says, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Today I want us to dissect this verse and see exactly what the Holy Spirit is urging us to do. The fact that the verse begins with “let us therefore” tells us that this is a commandment that is issued to every one of us in every part of the Christian community and that Paul expected us to heed his words. It is not a suggestion; it is a divinely inspired commandment.
The word “follow” is the Greek word dioko, a word that we’ve seen many times as we’ve studied Sparkling Gems 2. It is an often-used word in the New Testament; hence, this tells us how important it is that we understand it and obey its command to us. The word dioko had two primary meanings — and to understand this word, you need to understand the way that it was used in both senses.
First, as we’ve seen before, it was a hunting term that depicted a hunter who was following his game. He wasn’t haphazardly “hoping” that an animal would walk by him, but instead he was committed to getting into the territory where his game was located. He was determined to follow the animal’s scent and its tracks on the ground, to watch for broken branches indicating the presence of the animal and the direction it was headed, and so on. That hunter was absolutely committed to following that animal — and to watching for all the signs necessary to track it — until he captured his trophy.
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Furthermore, the Greek word for “follow,” dioko, is a participle, which means it should be understood to mean habitually follow. In other words, this hunter is bound and determined that he will not stop his pursuit until he comes home with a bagged animal!
Second, the word dioko is also frequently translated to persecute. The deliberateness contained in this word tells us that persecution is not accidental or haphazard. It is done very deliberately. Just as a hunter follows the tracks and scent of an animal, one who persecutes another does so deliberately. He seeks where the subject of his persecution lives, whom he talks to, where he fellowships, and so forth. After ascertaining vital information about his subject, he then begins on purpose to implement a strategy to rendezvous with his subject in order to entrap him. It is deliberate, planned, and executed with meticulous detail. This mean persecution is not a chance happening; it is intentional.
I could tell many stories of believers who were persecuted in parts of the world where the Gospel was once not accepted — and where the Gospel is still not welcome. Persecution against believers is well planned, thought-out, and deliberate. The word dioko describes just this exactly. It involves a well-executed plan to entrap the one whom the perpetrator wishes to punish or persecute.
That is the word that Paul uses when he admonishes us to “follow” after the things that make for peace. He was telling us to be proactive in achieving peace. He was urging us to develop a plan that can be executed. Sitting and hoping for it will never get the job done. There must be a Spirit-inspired plan that is followed explicitly — and the seeker must be committed to habitually follow that plan until peace is finally captured. Just as a hunter persistently follows after his prey, or just as a persecutor consistently and deliberately follows after the one he seeks to persecute, we must be that committed to do the things that make for peace.
But Paul tells us that we are to follow after “the things” that make for peace. The words “the things” are a translation of the little word ta, which seems so small, but it’s huge in what it embraces. The meaning of this tiny word includes many things that could contribute to peace. For example, it could include:
- Asking for forgiveness.
- Admitting you were wrong.
- Acknowledging that you were wrong in the role you played in a matter.
The word “peace” is the word eirene — an old Greek word that indisputably describes a time of peace as a replacement for war. It has been translated tranquility or harmony. It gives the idea that although there was a time of strife, conflict, and war — to obtain this “peace,” weapons and long-held disagreements must now be laid aside; peace negotiations must be discussed and implemented; and peace must usurp the conflicts that have long waged between two or more warring factions.
This is not a suggestion. It is Paul’s inspired command. We must seek this eirene and follow ardently after it until we obtain it in our relationships.
Furthermore, Paul told us that we are to follow after “…things wherewith one may edify another.” Instead of using weapons to injure one another or to put others down, Paul commands us to make it our professional objective to “edify” one another. This is so totally contrary to distrust, suspicion, and war. But this is what the Holy Spirit wants to achieve between us!
The word “edify” is the Greek word oikodome, a compound of the words oikos and domos. The word oikos describes a house — fully built and complete — while the word domos describes the engineering and building process by which that house was constructed. In order to build a house correctly — one that will stand for many years and serve its occupants well — first, a plan must be developed. Once all parts of the blueprint are designed, only then can the building process transpire, and it must be done according to the plan that has been devised!
This means that building a house is a very thoughtful endeavor. By God’s grace, Denise and I have constructed several buildings in the history of our ministry. Every one of them has started with a plan and an architect and engineer who put everything on paper. Then everything must be followed according to the plan if the building is to be constructed correctly. Exact obedience and adherence to the plan is essential. Carefulness is obligatory if one wants to do what’s right and achieve and obtain the best possible outcome.
Paul used this word oikodome — translated “edify” — to describe how we must build our relationships with each other in the Christian community. There is no room for sloppy, last-minute thinking about how to construct relationships that need to last for generations. It takes serious prayer and consideration, taking into account the various views of the different contributors — and once the plan is finalized, it must be followed carefully and considerately.
When we constructed our church building in Moscow, we followed the plans exactly. When we were finished, the building looked exactly as the plans had projected. If we had deviated and gone another way, we would have produced a different-looking building and, worse, one that was structurally unsound. But because we carefully obeyed the architect and engineers, their digital image looks identical to the actual building we constructed.
In the same way, if we lay down our weapons of war and suspicions of each other — and ardently follow after peace with each other, doing the things that make for peace and edification — we will build exactly what the Holy Spirit wants to build between us. We must seek the Holy Spirit for His plan of construction or reconstruction. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit knows exactly how to bring about peace. He knows what we need to do to “edify,” or to build properly, when constructing relationships in the Body of Christ.
If you have been through a war with a fellow believer, a nearby church, another pastor, or so on, God’s Word in Romans 14:19 commands you to lay down your weapons and do the things that make for peace, restoration, and edification.
Rather than tear each other down, the Holy Spirit — who is the Chief Architect and Engineer — wants to show us a plan for construction that will build strong relationships for years to come.
Are you ready to receive His plan? If you’re willing to lay down your weapons, repent for wrong attitudes, and come to His table to hear what He has to say, the Holy Spirit is ready to impart a plan that will work if you will not deviate from it.
This is the will of God according to Romans 14:19, so why not get started today? Great things lie ahead of those who will obey this verse, and that includes you!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I now have a clearer understanding of the enemy’s well-planned attacks to incite Christians to wage war among ourselves and ultimately fall prey to his divisive tactics. I ask You to help me apply a more meticulous approach to pursue peace and to preserve it. Father, I receive Your specific wisdom in this very intentional endeavor. I can no longer allow any room for sloppy, last-minute thinking about how to construct relationships that need to last for generations. Thank You for strengthening each member of Your Body internally so that externally we can build the Christian community by prayer and with peace, love, and serious consideration of the high priority that we edify one another so that the world may truly know we are Yours by our love.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I engage an intentional pursuit of those things that make peace. I see to it that my words, attitudes, and actions edify and build others up rather than injure or put them down. I obey the Lord’s command to make it my premeditated objective to edify others. Therefore, I give no place to the devil by allowing distrust, suspicion, or contempt to spring up and manifest in my life. I choose to follow the great plan of the Chief Architect, the Holy Spirit, and I refuse to deviate from it so He can build us into the glorious design the Father envisioned before the foundations of the world!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you ever witnessed a battle between two believers or between congregations? It isn’t a pretty sight, is it? It is certainly not God’s After reading today’s Sparkling Gem, what should the participants in such conflicts do to make it right before God?
- Are you in conflict with another believer? Is it really worth all the pain and blame? Don’t you hear God telling you to lay down your distrust and learn to build and edify one another? It may be difficult to do, but isn’t that exactly what Romans 14:19 tells you to do?
- I’m not suggesting that you do something God hasn’t required of me and other leaders over the years. But I’m here to testify that the peace obtained by following His plan for peace is so much better than the grief caused by strife and internal discord. Are you going to pull up to the table and let the Holy Spirit give you a plan to turn things around in the relationship(s) you find difficult?