Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord….
— Hebrews 12:14
Do you have a difficult relationship in your life that has been poisoned by offense, bitterness, or misunderstanding? It doesn’t matter who it is — your spouse, a sibling, a friend, an employee, or a member of your church — you will find vital keys to help you navigate the situation in Hebrews 12:14. The verse starts out by saying, “Follow peace with all men….”
That word “follow” is the Greek word dioko. This word was an old hunting term that meant to follow the tracks of the animal or to follow the scent of the animal. Just imagine a hunter decked out in all his hunting gear, and he’s following the tracks of his prey. He’s following the scent of the beast, and he’s looking for every little branch that the animal may have broken. The hunter is hunting, following, and searching for that animal — and he is not going to stop until finally he gets his prey.
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This word dioko is also translated as “persecute” in the New Testament. In other words, when someone was persecuted, it wasn’t something done haphazardly or accidentally; persecution was very intentional and deliberate. The persecutor followed his intended victims. He searched for them. He hunted them. He tracked them down. He was out to get them.
Now the Holy Spirit uses this same word in Hebrews 12:14 and says, “Follow after peace with all men….” That means sometimes peace doesn’t just come to us. In fact, most of the time, peace does not come to us. We have to do something to find peace with people. We have to follow after peace.
No matter how difficult a particular relationship in your life is, God is telling you in this verse what your responsibility is as a believer. You have to put on your hunting gear and make a firm decision to do something about that relationship according to His love that has been shed abroad in your heart (see Romans 5:5). Remind yourself: “I can’t be responsible for what that person does, but I am responsible for what I do — and God has required me to do everything I can do to obtain peace in this relationship.” Of course, sometimes when you do everything you can do, the other person doesn’t respond. You can’t answer for the other person, but you are going to answer for yourself.
So if you’re struggling to have peace with someone in your life, take this verse to heart. It’s time to put on your hunting gear and begin to look for anything you can do. Follow the tracks. Follow the scent. Look for every little broken branch. Look for anything you might possibly do that might lead to peace. Follow the tracks of peace.
Why is it so important that we follow after peace? The Bible goes on to tell us the reason in Hebrews 12:14: “Follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man will see the Lord.” That word “see” tells us that lack of peace serves as a blocker that stops us from being admitted into the immediate presence of God. Think how many times you’ve been in a service where God’s anointing is present and people are being blessed, but you can’t enter into it because you are so inwardly upset about someone or something. You see, these attitudes are blockers, and that is why the writer of Hebrews says without peace — or in the presence of strife — you will not be able to be admitted into the life-changing presence of God. Strife is a blocker. It will stop you from entering into the anointing. It will stop you from entering into blessing of any kind.
The Bible tells us to “follow after peace and holiness.” The word “holiness” is the word hagias. It means to be separate or to be different. In this particular case, the writer of Hebrews is telling us that we don’t have the privilege of acting or thinking like the world. God calls us to a higher standard. The Holy Spirit lives in us, giving us the power we need to walk in forgiveness on a much higher level than the world. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to walk in freedom rather than the bondage the world walks in. We are called to follow after peace — to hunt it, seek it, pursue it — with all men. And we’re called to walk in holiness, to behave differently than lost people behave and to walk in forgiveness, free from offense. If we fail to pursue that kind of spiritual walk and remain in strife and bitterness, we’ll never really be able to experience the tangible presence of God.
Take a moment to look at your life. Think about those times when you’ve harbored bitterness and offense and allowed your heart to grow hard toward a person. It was very difficult for you to experience the sweet presence of the Lord during those times, wasn’t it? That’s what this verse is talking about.
God has called us to a higher level, and like it or not, this verse tells us what we have to do when we’re dealing with difficult people in our lives who have hurt or offended us. If we’re serious about being disciples of Jesus, we must determine to forgive every person and every offense. We have to respond differently than the world would respond. Then as much as is possible with us, we must actively follow after obtaining peace with every person.
And let me tell you, friend — the only way you’re going to be able to do this is by spending time with Jesus. Ask Him what path you’re to follow to obtain peace. No one understands this better than Jesus. He had enemies all around Him, yet He walked in peace with all men. Talk to Jesus, and He’ll get you on the right track that leads to freedom from strife and offense and to an abiding sense of His presence every day of your life.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Heavenly Father, Your Word is very clear on how I am to respond to people who have hurt or offended me. When I am dealing with difficulties in relationships, You expect me to take the responsibility of hunting down peace and pursuing it. I ask You to show me what path I am to take in this pursuit so that I can please You by walking in the high level of love You have already shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit who was given to me. I will not allow hurt, bitterness, or resentment to separate me from Your immediate presence. I receive Your help, Holy Spirit, to maintain a pure heart so that not only can I see God, but also so that I can see others as He sees them.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that because the Holy Spirit lives in me, I have the power I need to walk in forgiveness on a much higher level than the world. The Holy Spirit gives me the power to walk in freedom from the bondage of bitterness and strife. God requires me to follow after peace — to hunt it, seek it, and pursue it — with all men. Therefore, because I am required to do it, I am equipped to do it. I yield to the Holy Spirit, and I walk in holiness and in consecration to God and His ways. I deliberately separate myself from ungodly attitudes and actions because I refuse to be separated from the presence of God.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Has there been a relationship in your life in which you have found it particularly difficult to maintain peace? Who is that other person? Do you know why it has been so difficult to keep that relationship peaceful? Do you remember how the whole mess began, and do you know what you would have done differently if you could start all over again?
- Has the Holy Spirit told you to follow after peace with that person? Instead of waiting for him or her to come to you with an apology, why don’t you put on your “hunting gear” and make the choice to start following after peace until you finally obtain it in that relationship? It may require some creative thinking and acting born of diligent prayer about the matter — but if the Holy Spirit tells you to do it, it means you can do it. Go for it!
- Have you been getting signals from the Holy Spirit that you have unresolved issues of hurt or offense with another person? For instance, when you try to worship God, does a certain name keep coming up, causing unsettled thoughts that steal your joy and your ability to freely worship? Don’t ignore those kinds of signs. That may be the Holy Spirit telling you that strife is at work in your life to keep you from enjoying the presence of the Lord. If it’s always the same person over and over again, consider that a clear signal that there is some kind of issue between you and that person and that you should do everything you can to forgive that person and to seek his or her forgiveness and make that relationship right so you can freely enjoy the sweet presence of the Lord again!