“When a man’s ways please Yahweh, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” -Proverbs 16:7
We live in a society that is increasingly more hostile towards one another. Even sadly in the confines of the body of Christ you see one another at odds with each other. One could read this passage as if the one who pleases the Lord is such a righteous person who persuaded everyone else to think and act like himself – but that’s not how I believe this passage should be read. I believe the heart of this passage is that when a man’s ways please Yahweh, it is because he is acting and speaking with the gentle love and compassion of Christ Jesus, showing unconditional love and forgiveness towards all, humility and vulnerability, and a willingness to quietly live as he believes God calls him to – making known his positions, yet not haughtily or in an attempt to constantly evangelize, but instead, being known as a follower of Jesus, simply living a life of love and patience and openness to all. Living a Christian life in this way invites others in, shows them they are safe with you, that they are loved, despite differences.
Be the unusual one in our society who DOESN’T stir up contention with arrogant speech, condescending opinions, and harsh words. Stand by what you believe and stand by the scriptures, but don’t ever use God as an excuse to be unloving towards the broken people around you.
Peace does not always come from agreement. Peace comes from a choice – a choice to act and speak as a loving and discerning Christian must act and speak, with words seasoned with salt, or as Proverbs puts it, gentle words which are a tree of life.
Don’t hear me saying you should never speak your opposing views based on belief in Jesus and God’s commandments – that’s not what I’m saying. Speaking truth in a timely manner is crucial to sharing Jesus with others. But a quiet and loving tongue, coupled with the discernment of when to speak and when to stay quiet, and the discernment to know what is necessary to discuss and what isn’t, is far more valuable and conducive to peace then a militant and arrogant tongue which insists on it’s own way and views in everything and at all times, unwilling to hear, unwilling to love past differences, unwilling to investigate it’s own beliefs out of humility and vulnerable honesty. Jesus won people over more often by eating with them, doing life with them, and loving them, not by getting in their face and telling them they’re wrong and had better shape up or else. Speak truth, but use discernment, and above all remember that part of truth is not just doctrine and worldview, it’s love and compassion, for without love and compassion we would never have had the cross to be grateful for; we would never have had Christ’s death and resurrection to bring us hope and communion with God.