There is a temptation for believers who find themselves in conflict to quietly keep the peace by acquiescing in the hopes of quelling the conflict as soon as possible.
It’s unfortunate because these otherwise godly believers have been misled into thinking that their peacekeeping is biblical and conflict is to be avoided. After all, Romans 12:18 says, “…as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
But the first phrase of that verse is “if it is possible…”, meaning sometimes it’s not.
How could it not be possible to live at peace with everyone? If we give in to everything everyone else wants, that would make us peacekeepers, right?
Yes. And in a lot of instances, being a peacekeeper is wrong.
Paul says “if it is possible” because there are times he wants us to not give in. Like when keeping the peace means enabling sin.
Keeping the peace does not trump calling out sin. The Bible is clear about this.
- “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Galatians 6:1
- “As for [elders] who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20
- “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
- “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
- “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” Matthew 18:15
Now, to be sure, we are to call each other out on sin in a humble manner, knowing full well we are not sinless ourselves and that we will be on the other side of the calling out at some point in the near future if we have godly people around us.
If the person we are confronting is mature, it’s possible the confrontation will actually be peaceful. However, most of the time these things are not peaceful. In fact, they may stir up some contention.
And that’s okay.
Because our calling out sin in someone else creates an avenue through which the Spirit can lead him to repentance, which will produce more peace in the body than our turning a blind eye to sin ever could. In the latter instance, we are a peacekeeper. But in the former instance, we are peacemakers.
Peacekeeping when sin is involved only allows the sin to grow, damaging more and more people more and more severely (which isn’t very peaceful, when you think about it).
Peacemaking when sin is involved calls for an end to the sin, stopping the damage in its tracks (which is true peace, when you think about it).
James writes, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness,” (James 3:18).
Don’t be a peacekeeper; it often leads to unrest. Be a peacemaker; when done with the right attitude, it always results in righteousness.