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Pursuing peace and sanctification
- Jacob Ninan
God exhorts us through His word to pursue after peace with all men and sanctification (or holiness, as in some translations), without which we will not be able to see God (He.12:14). Jesus gives us His peace, which is unlike the peace of the world (Jn.14:27). The world has peace only when there are no problems, but the peace that Jesus gives us can exist in the midst of problems. We can have peace with other people even when they are not at peace with us! It shows in our heart when we forgive them, hold no desire for vengeance and wish them well even when they may be planning to do us harm (Lk.6:27,28,35). We forgive them not because they deserve it or after they have come and apologised to us, but because we have been forgiven freely by God (Co.3:13), and also because they really don't know the sinfulness or consequences of what they are doing (Lk.23:34).
It is not easy at times to forgive and be at peace towards those who have hurt us. Sometimes we may be suffering from some irreparable damage they have caused, and they themselves seem to be going around freely and without care! The injustice of it all haunts us day and night. The secret of forgiving them is to know that God has forgiven us freely as a gift when we went to Him in repentance without asking us to 'clean up' first. When we ourselves have experienced such an unmerited favour from God, how can we not show mercy to these 'poor' people? Jesus forgave those who crucified Him even without waiting for them to admit their sin, and that is how we can also forgive others. Even if it is a struggle to forgive, shouldn't we be pursuing after it, seeking God for more help?
Living at peace with the others does not demand that others should also be at peace with us. Can we change the others? We can pray for them, bless them and do good to them, but at the end of it all some of them may be still at war with us! God is realistic. He tells us only to be at peace from our side (Ro.12:18).
We are never 'without sin' while we are on earth. To pursue holiness means being 'set apart for God.' Sanctification is the process of becoming more and more holy. After our sins are forgiven through repentance and faith in Jesus, we are 'justified' before God. Then the Holy Spirit begins His work of sanctification in us, drawing us away from fleshly and worldly desires to God who is the source of all joy and pleasure (Ps.16:11). Finally when we stand with God in eternity we will also be glorified and given a new, sinless body. We are to pursue after sanctification by cooperating with the Holy Spirit to be weaned from earthly values to heavenly values (Col.3:1,2).
The question we have to keep asking ourselves is, "Am I eagerly and sincerely seeking to live at peace with all people, and is my heart constantly seeking for a closer walk with God?" What do we do when the Holy Spirit points out things in us that are taking us in the opposite direction? Don't we want to see God better and walk with Him?