“Peaceable” is not a word that’s used much in our vocabulary. I don’t use it, other than the phrase, “Let’s get peaceable about it!” Some other translations use the words “peace-loving”. The Greek word “eirenike” is only used here and in Hebrews 11:12 in the New Testament. The word means “composed”, “tranquil”, and speaks of one who is at peace with God and seeks to be at peace with others. We can’t be at peace with God and at peace with others unless we have a pure heart. No wonder James says that wisdom is “first pure”.
The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:18, “If possible, on your part, be at peace with all men.” In Romans 14:19 he says, “So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.” When you were growing up, did you ever get into an argument with your siblings, or with other children at church, at school, or in the neighborhood? Sure you did! And do you still remember the famous words, “he started it” or “she started it”? Is your mind a little foggy right now? Mine is! It’s interesting to note the things we remember from our childhood and things we forget!
Can you remember your father or mother stopping a quarrel between siblings and saying, “We’re family!” “That’s your brother, (or sister, or cousin).” I want you to apologize to one another and say you’re sorry.” There would be tearful apologies and hugs, and things would be better for a while. It wouldn’t get so far out of hand again because as you looked at each other, those words would come back to your mind: “You’re family”.
Fighting is not something we naturally outgrow when we become adults, is it? As adults and as Christians, we probably don’t punch, kick, shove, bite, or pull hair anymore, but we still have our own arenas and tactics. Dr. M.R. DeHaan of the Radio Bible Class ministries wrote a devotional on this subject in Our Daily Bread. The following is part of what he shared. “How many times has it happened? You walk away from an argument on the subject of holiness, realizing that you’ve been sinning like crazy. As you think back, you wonder what it must have looked like to God. Remember the way it started? You were sitting around the coffee pot with your Christian friends. The discussion moved from cars, to churches, to the sovereignty of God. You love a good lively challenge, so when your doctrinal sparring partner let down his guard, or punched a little too hard, you jumped in for the friendly kill. For some reason the Scripture you used to support your argument just bounced off his head. A few more verses were tossed back from his direction. You claimed they were thrown so badly you didn’t even feel their impact. Then you began to get a little uneasy. It soon became apparent that you were no longer testing ideas. The friendly difference of opinion had turned into a struggle that was now being waged with voice tones, inflections, and gestures.” He concludes by saying, “When will we learn that knowledge must be accompanied by wisdom? When will we stop using the doctrines of God as ammunition for our own egos? When will we allow His Word to make us pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated?”
On a positive note, Proverbs 17:27 says, in the New American Standard Bible, “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” I like the word “cool” there. It brings these words to my mind: “refreshing”, “soothing”, “pleasant”, “a welcome relief”. Are there people you like to be around because they make you feel at ease? They are interested in you and like to listen to you and interact with you. They accept you the way you are and aren’t trying to impress you? Do you walk away from the conversation refreshed and renewed? I hope you have people like that in your life. I also hope that you are that kind of a person yourself, or you are taking steps to become more of a source of refreshment and encouragement to others. The Lord Jesus called those “blessed” (happy, joyful) who are peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
My next message is about the word “gentle” in verse 17. “Be cool!” Please come again soon!