As I read this verse today, one phrase stuck out to me: work at living.
Other versions use ‘strive’ and ‘pursue’ instead of ‘work,’ but it’s the same notion.
For some reason we think living just happens, that we shouldn’t have to work at it. If we do have to work at it, something is wrong.
God says differently.
“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” He said through the writer of Hebrews.
Of all the things He could have told us to work at, He said peace and a holy life, which would lead us to think that’s pretty important to Him.
So, working at peace means we never confront anyone and never speak up when something is wrong, right?
Peace is much more than the absence of conflict. For the believer, it begins with contentment (see Philippians 4). It includes not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to (see Romans 12), and it requires us being slow to take up anger (see James 1).
Mainly, it requires us to THINK.
It insists that we respond rather than react.
We can confront about an offense without being offensive. We can ask for mistakes to be corrected without being hateful. It’s all a choice.
Then that second part: a holy life.
When we accept Jesus as Savior, we’re made holy and righteous, right?
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is, there’s more to it.
John MacArthur says, “[Holiness] is explained as a drawing near to God with full faith and a clear conscience.”
It’s that day-by-day, moment-by-moment dropping of the sins that separate us from God (see 1 John 1:9) and following so closely to Jesus that the dust from His steps gets on us.
It’s that constant focus on Him as God, not us. When we get this right, our complaints become fewer and our ire less.
In his commentary, MacArthur adds, “Unbelievers will not be drawn to accept Christ if believers’ lives do not demonstrate the qualities God desires, including peace and holiness.”
How many unbelievers have seen my temper tantrums and decided that they didn’t need salvation because I behaved as one with no peace and certainly no holiness? That hurts, y’all.
What do you say? Let’s start working at living today. Let’s strive toward living at peace with everyone, even the irascible soul at the job or the never-satisfied neighbor.
Let’s pursue holiness as though lives depend on it. They do.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.