Peace That Is Possible
The Bible is a wonderfully practical book. Its wisdom is both rich and realistic, and the longer we live, the more meaningfully we hear it speaking to our every situation. As we age, many of us realize that our parents were often correct in their warnings and wisdom; and as we walk by the light of God’s word, so it will be proven right in time, every time.
Paul displays this timeless, realistic wisdom here. On one hand, this sounds simplistic: just try to be at peace with everyone. It’s not difficult to understand. But that is not all he’s saying. The instruction is preceded by two qualifications: “if possible” and “so far as it depends on you.” The implication is that it may not always be possible!
Paul is not providing a loophole here. He’s not telling us to be at peace so long as we can control our temper or emotions, but otherwise we’re free to harbor bitterness. His call to us is to ensure that any ongoing conflict in our lives is in spite of us, not because of us. The responsibility for ongoing animosity must never be traceable to reluctance for reconciliation on our part.
But even if we’ve done our part, there are two situations in which peace may not be possible. One is when the other party is unwilling to be at peace with us. We may be dealing with someone intent on harming us and with no interest in resolving the conflict. In that situation, it may not be possible to change that person or prevent their cruelty—but it will be possible for us not to fight back. When we ensure that we are not contributing to the conflict, we are pursuing peace “so far as it depends on” us.
The other obstacle arises when the terms of peace are incompatible with principles of holiness, truth, and righteousness. The writer of Hebrews had such a situation in mind when he instructed his readers, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). These are not two disjointed instructions; our striving for peace and for holiness must not take us in separate directions. The pursuit of peace is not to become the pursuit of peace at any price. Some of us need to take care that our distaste for conflict and confrontation does not lead us to pursue peace at the cost of righteousness.
You cannot change a heart; that is the Lord’s business. You must not compromise your integrity; that is the Lord’s chief concern. But God is giving you an imperative, as much as it is up to you, that you pursue peace. Do you need to be prompted by this command to temper your words, change your behavior, or make the first step toward repairing a conflict, today?
Daniel and the Lions' Den
1It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
6Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement1 to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
10When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
14Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
16Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared2 to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
19Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
25Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for he is the living God,
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
27He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”
28So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
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