Give Me Peace
Peace. Who wouldn’t want more of it amongst the membership of the congregation in which they work and worship? Certainly our Lord and Savior, the “Prince of Peace” does. And as that great ‘opinions’ chapter, Romans 14, so thoroughly exhorts as it explores the prideful personal opinions, perspectives, pettiness and preferences which we so often give such a high and prized priority – even to the point of destroying one another for whom Christ died as well as the rest of the work of God in any given congregation – the Lord’s kingdom/church isn’t supposed to be about those things at all, but instead, about “righteousness, PEACE, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (See Romans 14; emphasis added on vs. 17 here – DED).
The Lord’s faithful congregations both should, and must, be a place of ultimate and unending peace within and amongst their ranks as they work and worship together to His glory. So why on earth are they so often not? While the reasons are surely many and varied, certainly the Apostle Paul’s divinely-inspired admonitions to the Thessalonians provide us with some priceless insight into one of the most common problems which continually prevents congregational peace, as well as providentially providing us with the perfect prescription for promoting, providing, and producing a more complete peace amongst us, wherever and whenever that particular problem exists.
As to the problem itself; the apostle Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” The Greek word translated “busybodies” in verse 11 is “periergazomai,” and means, “to busy one’s self about trifling, needless, useless matters; used apparently of a person officiously inquisitive about other’s affairs.”
But this problem was far from being either new, exclusive, or limited only to these first century children of God. Solomon in all of his shining wisdom many centuries earlier had sternly warned in Proverbs 26:17 and 21: “One who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own, is like one who takes a dog by the ears… As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” And as the Apostle Peter also warned in his first, first-century epistle, this practice of presumptuously inserting one’s self into, and/or continually seeking to control someone else’s business when one has no real right or legitimate responsibility to do so, has absolutely no place in and amongst the saints of God, actually being akin to committing murder, being a thief, or being an evildoer according to almighty God! Really. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15). I would additionally herein remind us of Miriam, the elder sister of both Aaron and Moses, who, over an approximately 90+ year span, served so well and saw so many miracles performed by her brother Moses whom God had chosen, but who, in the end, even after all that: presumptuously meddled in the affairs of God’s chosen leader; potentially disturbed and disrupted the peace of God’s congregation in so doing; and summarily suffered the God-caused consequences for her prideful and presumptuous sin, shortly before succumbing to her own death (Numbers 12:1-16; 20:1).
And so we see that this problem was far from new to these first-century Thessalonian saints. And in fact, Paul had actually also addressed it in his earlier epistle to them as well. But yet this pride-driven, peace-shattering problem still persisted! This, despite the extremely simple, scriptural, and straightforward solution which he had, by divine inspiration, previously provided and prescribed to them. Although they already loved one another deeply and it was obvious (1 Thess. 4:9), the fact was that they still needed to increase and mature even more in their love for both their brethren (vs. 10) as well as outsiders (vss. 11-12). And as an integral and essential part of that maturation and peace-providing process, Paul’s prescription, which was both priceless as well as timeless for all such saints in the Lord’s church, was simply and powerfully stated – yea commanded – in 1st Thessalonians, chapter 4, vs. 11:
“…That you also aspire (“make it your ambition, or goal”) to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.”
How much more peaceful, joyful, and profitable, every saint obeying this command of the Lord would not only make life in our congregations overall, but also, how much more peaceful, joyful, and profitable, every saint obeying this command of the Lord would additionally make it on any and all of the loving, hard-working, soul-shepherding, and God-honoring leaders of our congregations as well – as well it should be (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17)!
Now of course this doesn’t mean that we stop serving the Lord or being involved with loving, serving, and even correcting – when necessary – one another (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22). God forbid! (Truth be told, once one stops wasting their time and energy getting involved with what they ought and need not to anyway, it might even give them more time and opportunity to take up the righteous, more appropriate, and personal God-given responsibilities they should be more involved in to boot.) But what it does mean, is that we need to obey this commandment of the Lord not to be a “busybody,” “meddler,” or “one who needlessly and presumptuously seeks to insert themselves into some other saint’s business where they don’t belong or need to be in the first place,” just like any other. And when we do, the God of peace will be with us (1 Thessalonians 5:23), and the peace of God will preserve us (2 Thessalonians 3:16)!
And, after all… Who wouldn’t want more peace amongst the membership of the congregation in which they work and worship anyway? “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which we may edify one another” (Romans 14:17-19).