I. What does God value? God is a peace-loving God who values PEACEFUL RELATIONSHIPS.
The wisdom sayings of Proverbs show us that God values peaceful relationships.
God’s love for peace reflects the mutual love, respect, and communion that exists within the Holy Trinity.
Hear this strong statement from the pen of Solomon: “The LORD hates . . . the one who sows discord among brothers” (6:16,19). The one who unleashes conflicts among brothers. To let loose… The word is used of the release of flaming foxes among the Philistines’ crops (Judges 15:5; Gen. 8:7; Isa. 32:20 – letting the oxen and donkeys range free).
BUT God does not value peace at any cost. The book of Proverbs shows that there is a time for conflict. Parents are told not to withhold correction from children for fear of the child’s loud cries of protest. A wise person is told to confront a fool. And the Lord’s people are encouraged to be advocates of truth and justice, both of which involve us in conflict. God’s love for peace is never at the expense of His love for truth and justice.
(If our God is such a peace-loving God, why don’t we pursue what He values?)
II. Why don’t we pursue what God values?
A. We wrestle with proud hearts (28:25). “An arrogant man stirs up strife but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper (fattened).” Someone who is proud disregards the interests, needs, and feelings of others.
B. We struggle with angry tempers (29:22). “An angry man (hot-headed) stirs up dissension and a hot-tempered (wrathful) one commits many sins.” The consequence is stirring up strife. “Are you a person who is easily irritated, frustrated and quick to express your hostility? Do you arouse and intensify tensions with a quarrelsome attitude that is contagious?” (Woodcock, p.199).
C. We fight with loose lips (26:20-22). “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer (gossip – wrongfully attacking another’s reputation and authority to secure one’s own will and desires), strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
Proverbs 11:13 – A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
Proverbs 16:28 – “A perverse man spreads strife and a slanderer separates intimate friends.”
D. At times, we linger too long over alcohol (23:29-32). “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine… Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.”
III. How do you practically pursue what God values?
A. CONFESS THE WAYS THAT YOU HAVE NOT PURSUED PEACE WITH OTHERS rather than cover (Proverbs 28:13-14 – defines true repentance). What are the ways that you have sown discord among brothers and sisters in Christ? What are the ways that you have not covered people in love? “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (10:12). He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends (17:9).
B. GUARD YOUR TONGUE – Guarding vs. opening wide your lips… (13:3 – Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. 10:19 – When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable but he who restrains his lips is wise. 27:2 – Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.)
C. ADMONISH/CONFRONT THOSE WHO PERSIST IN NOT PURSUING PEACEFUL RELATIONSHIPS. “The beginning of strife is like releasing water (like one who breaks open a dam – the firstborn who opens the womb); therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts” (17:14).
27:5-6 – Better is open rebuke than hidden love…Faithful are the wounds of a friend.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 – “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
PLACE YOUR HANDS ON THE PEACE CHILD… who endured intense hatred and hostility when he suffered and died to bring YOU peace with God.
Illustration: The warring tribes of Irian Jaya and the peace child.
One day Don Richardson watched the warriors of the warring tribes form a line opposite each other. The chief of his tribe took his newborn son from the arms of his wife. She sank to the ground wailing in uncontrollable grief.
Then the Chief walked down the line of his warriors and each of them put their hands on his little first born child. With determination and resolve the chief walked across the open space between the two warring tribes. He stood face to face with the enemy chief and placed his son in his enemies arms.
With the baby in his arms, the enemy chief walked down the line of his warriors. In full view of the father and the father’s tribe, each enemy warrior placed his hands on the baby boy. Next the warriors turned and disappeared in the bush with the infant. The baby was gone, never to be returned to its grieving parents.
Just as the warriors put their hands on the Chief’s little son as a sign that they accepted this little boy as their Peace Child, so we by faith receive Jesus into our lives to show that we are at peace with God. The difference in the stories is that God’s Peace Child lives forever.
Are you truly at peace with God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ? You cannot become a peacemaker unless you are first at peace with Him (Romans 5:1-2). Those who enjoy peace with God endeavor to live at peace with all men? Are you? Where do you need to take the initiative to reconcile with those who have wronged you or with those whom you have wronged?
Peaceful relationships do not just happen. You must actively pursue others, especially those who have hurt you, maligned you, misunderstood you, and slandered you.