The Review and Herald

1047/1902

January 16, 1900

“As Much as Lieth in You, Live Peaceably With All Men”

EGW

The plan of redemption was formed to bring unity and peace to men. The world was at war with the law of Jehovah; sinners were at enmity with their Maker; Jesus came to make overtures of peace. At the appointed time angels were commissioned to announce his birth, and give expression to their joy in the salvation of the one lost sheep, the fallen world. To the watching shepherds the message came, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” RH January 16, 1900, par. 1

Shortly before his crucifixion, Christ bequeathed to his disciples a legacy of peace. “Peace I leave with you,” he said; “my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity with the world. It is an internal rather than an external peace. Without will be wars and fightings, through the opposition of avowed enemies, and the coldness and suspicion of those who claim to be friends. The peace of Christ is not to banish division, but it is to remain amid strife and division. RH January 16, 1900, par. 2

Though he bore the title of Prince of Peace, Christ said of himself, “Think not that I am come to send a peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.” By these words he did not mean that his coming was to produce discord and contention among his followers. He desired to show the effect his teaching would have on different minds. One portion of the human family would receive him; the other portion would take sides with Satan, and would oppose Christ and all his followers. The Prince of Peace, he was yet the cause of division. He who came to proclaim glad tidings and create hope and joy in the hearts of the children of men, opened a controversy that burns deep, and arouses intense passion in the human heart. And he warned his followers: “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” “They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.... Ye shall be betrayed both by parents and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.” RH January 16, 1900, par. 3

This prophecy has been fulfilled in a marked manner. Every indignity, reproach, and cruelty that Satan can instigate human hearts to devise, has been visited upon the followers of Jesus. And it will be fulfilled in a yet more marked manner; for the carnal mind is still at enmity with the law of God, and will not be subject to its commands. We have been highly favored in living under a government where we can worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. But human nature is no more in harmony with the principles of Christ today than it has been in ages past. The world is still in opposition to Jesus. The same hatred that prompted the cry, “Crucify him, crucify him,” still works in the children of disobedience. The same satanic spirit that in the Dark Ages consigned men and women to prison, to exile, and to the stake, that conceived the exquisite torture of the Inquisition, produced the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and kindled the fires of Smithfield, is still at work with malignant energy in unregenerate hearts. RH January 16, 1900, par. 4

We are required to be Christlike toward those who are our enemies; but we must not, in order to have peace, cover up the faults of those we see in error. The world's Redeemer never purchased peace by covering iniquity, or by anything like compromise. Though his heart was constantly overflowing with love for the human race, he was never indulgent to their sins. He was the friend of sinners, and he would not remain silent while they were pursuing a course that would ruin their souls,—the souls that he had purchased with his own blood. He was a stern reprover of all vice. He labored that man should be true to himself in being all that God would have him, and true to his higher and eternal interest. Living in a world marred and seared with the curse brought upon it by disobedience, he could not be at peace with it if he left it unwarned, uninstructed, unrebuked. This would be to purchase peace at the neglect of duty. His peace was the consciousness of having done the will of his Father, rather than a condition of things that existed as the result of not having done his duty. RH January 16, 1900, par. 5

Those who love Jesus and the souls for whom he had died will follow after the things which make for peace. But they must take care lest in their efforts to prevent discord, they surrender truth; lest in warding off division, they sacrifice principle. True brotherhood can never be maintained by compromising principle. As Christians approach the Christlike model, and become pure in spirit and action, they will feel the venom of the serpent. The opposition of the children of disobedience is excited by a Christianity that is spiritual. At this crisis is the time to decide who are God's faithful servants, who will be true to principle, who will bear in mind that truth is too dearly purchased for its least principle to be surrendered. That peace and harmony which are secured by mutual concessions to avoid all differences of opinion are not worthy of the name. On points of feeling between man and man, concessions should sometimes be made; but never should one iota of principle be sacrificed to obtain harmony. All our words and actions pass in review before God; and if we wish to stand in the Judgment as having done all that we could do to exert a correct influence over our fellow men, we must return kind acts for acts of mischief and malice. Christ is our pattern; we must follow him. RH January 16, 1900, par. 6

The apostle Paul exhorts us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Care should be taken by Christians to give no offense, that the truth may not be evil spoken of. But the text suggests that no amount of diligence and care will preserve this harmony in all cases. Dissensions will arise even between church-members, because they are not Christlike in character. In the home they are oppressive and a reproach to the cause of Christ. Their practices are inconsistent with truth and religion, and to retain them in church fellowship would be unfaithfulness to the Master. The church as a body is to do all in its power to promote union and prevent schisms. If unsound doctrine is introduced, the safety of the flock of Christ will be endangered; and it is the duty of those in authority, who are jealous for the truth as it is in Jesus, to make a firm, decided protest. RH January 16, 1900, par. 7

To those who have been injured without cause these words of Scripture apply, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Their failure to live at peace with all men is not due to the course they themselves have pursued, but to the envy, jealousy, and evil surmising of those who have been in the wrong. A division is caused. How shall it be healed? Shall the man that has been sinned against, misjudged, and maligned, be called to give an account? Shall he seek for something in his past course by which he can humiliate himself? Shall he acknowledge himself in the wrong for the sake of making peace?—No. If he has tried to do his duty, and has been patient under abuse, he is not to humble himself to acknowledge that he is guilty. He does the offenders great wrong thus to take the guilt upon his soul, admitting that he has given them occasion for their course of action. This is very pleasing to those who have done the work of the enemy; but heaven's books record the facts just as they are. Concessions that are not true from the one who has been wrongfully treated gratify the feelings of the carnal heart. The wrongdoers interpret their position as zeal for God, when in truth it is zeal to do the work of the adversary of souls. They do not dig out of their hearts the root of bitterness, but leave the fibers to spring up when Satan shall stir them again to active growth. RH January 16, 1900, par. 8

There is a work for us to do. We must begin here to cultivate the meekness of Christ. There are stern battles for us to fight against our traits of character that leads us to decisions that make it hard and unfavorable for others. We are not commended by God for a zeal that savors of pharisaism; for this is not of Christ. We are not to go to an extreme in false charity, neither are we to follow a course of unbending severity in cases where kindness and mercy and love would have a telling power. The ax must be laid at the root of the tree. True conversion is needed. Heart work is essential. The nature must be renewed after the divine image, until the work of grace is completed in the soul. RH January 16, 1900, par. 9