“So then, let us pursue the things which make for peace and building up of one another.” Romans 14:19 NASB
This year’s election season has produced more than its share of animosity, suspicion, and disunity. Families torn apart, neighbor against neighbor, and even violence stalks Americans these days. A car struck someone I know in Prairie Village, Kansas while he defended political signs in his own yard. He previously had several signs stolen, so he was watching them when he spied a man in a car veering onto his lawn to knock down the signs. He struck my friend down. After a stint in the ICU, he is home recovering, realizing he could be dead over a fit of anger at a political sign. Sadly, this is not an unusual occurrence in this election. Tempers flare, lifelong friendships are over because of a Facebook post, and even family members are at odds.
I Want America Back
America is not a perfect country, but I can remember no time in which I have heard so many angry words exchanged by previously well-mannered people. I remember an era when neighbors helped neighbors, when children played outside until dark without supervision, where disagreements were civil, and where name-calling was taboo. These days everyone feels free to express their unsolicited opinion regardless of the social setting. Civility is terminally ill if not dead.
The cure for the seething rage in America is simple—love your neighbor as yourself. Do for others what you hope they would do for you. As Paul states in Romans, pursue peace. Make an active decision to be a peacemaker. Look for ways to build the other person up, instead of arguing and tearing them down. Show respect for another’s opinions. Listen and respond with logic, not emotion. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Often, we gain insight into another person by understanding how their life experiences drive their opinions. Know when to walk away. My mother always told me, if you cannot say something nice to someone, then say nothing at all.
Jacob and Esau
Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau quarreled when Esau felt Jacob had stolen his birthright. Esau was the first-born son, which meant he would inherit the bulk of his father’s estate. Jacob approached Esau when he was hungry and traded him the birthright for a bowl of stew. The enmity between the two brothers simmered throughout their lives, and it exists even today in their descendants. The nomadic tribes, some Esau’s descendants, of the Middle East are still warring against their Jewish brothers. What would be different if the two men had followed a pattern of peace instead of resentment and jealousy?
Be a Peacemaker
Being right does not mean we win. If prevailing in an argument demeans the other person, or results in injury, that is not a victory. Run after peace as a habit of life. A little humility has substantial rewards—a friendship kept, families united, and the absence of angst. Someone will win this election, and someone will lose. Do all in your power to make certain we do not lose peace.
Check out Esau and Jacob’s story in my first book, “The Scarlet Thread: God’s Promises to the Patriarchs.”