Build a Peaceful Pursuit

Scriptures: 1 Timothy 3:1-7
by Jacob Abshire on March 20, 2023

In a time when opinions are strong and polarized, a godly person stands out as one who is peaceful and uses truth to unite enemies. In Paul’s description of a mature believer, he uses the words “not quarrelsome” to communicate this quality. It is the last of three characteristics relating to challenging people.

We have been walking through a list of godly qualities to examine each quality individually. We have learned the importance of having a blameless reputation, sexual purity, a sensible mind, restrained appetites, respectable attraction, responsive sympathy, powerful speech, continual soberness, stubborn calmness, and persistent patience. Now, we want to devote our attention to building a peaceful pursuit.

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

1 Timothy 3:1-7

The term can be translated from its original language as “against fighting” or “noncombatant.” In Titus 3:2, the word is translated as “to avoid quarrels” according to the English Standard Translation of the Bible, which highlights the kind of intentional action that is true of a godly person. We are to be “against quarrels” and “avoid quarrels.” The infighting that this word has in mind relates to disagreements expressed through words — be they verbal, written, or typed on a smartphone within your favorite social media app. Godly people are against all kinds of unnecessary disputes.

Plenty of Scriptures help us see the motivation behind this distaste and aversion. For instance, 2 Timothy 2:23 instructs us to “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies” because “you know that they breed quarrels.” In other words, foolish disagreements lead to fights, so we should avoid them. Titus 3:9 takes it further to say that they are “unprofitable and worthless” or a waste of time. They produce nothing of value but rob you of energy you cannot get back. James 4:1 takes this one more step to show us how it spills over into the lives of those who witness the disputes. The damage is not isolated to those arguing, but it extends to those who are observing.

Pulling these three passages together, we learn that foolish disagreements lead to unnecessary friction, the loss of time and energy, and unwanted collateral damage and disunity. Therefore, godly people should be against these kinds of disagreements because they value good conversations that are worthy of their time and energy and result in encouragement and unity.

We can think of this term positively by saying that a godly person is peaceable. That is to say that he doesn’t just avoid quarrels but pursues peace primarily because it reflects the character of God (Rom. 15:33). “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). In other words, those who are peacemakers are those who belong to God and He “continually grants them peace in every circumstance,” according to 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

The godly person also pursues peace because the wisdom of God informs him. We see this modeled in the life of Paul, who wrote:

“I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

1 Corinthians 2:1-3

This leads to another reason why the godly man pursues peace; it demonstrates the outworking nature of the gospel. It achieves a reconciliation between the most polarized enemies. In Ephesians, we learn that: 

“[God] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

Ephesians 2:14-16 

The gospel of God tears down the walls of division that man has erected between each other, to bring peace among them who are in Christ.

This implies that the godly man pursues peace because he experiences peace between himself and God. This means that a peaceful pursuit is a necessary characteristic of one who is in Christ. And this is why we find it in Galatians 5:22 as a fruit of the Spirit. It is a gift from God to believers and others through believers. It is evidence of a genuinely saved person. For this reason, I’m calling this characteristic a peaceful pursuit. 

To be clear, this does not mean that a godly man pursues peace at any price. If peace comes through the truth of the Gospel, then it is never good to sacrifice truth for the sake of peace. This does the opposite. This promotes division and stirs up strife in the heart of believers and unbelievers alike. Instead, the term “not quarrelsome” refers to how we relate to others who disagree with us, as well as those who dispute useless ideas.

In summary, the godly man is to build a peaceful pursuit when relating to other people. He is to be against and avoid quarrels to make peace among those who disagree. So, are you a peacemaker? Do you speak to others in a way that promotes peace around the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do your conversations on social media reflect the kind of pursuits that are consistent with God? If not, here are five steps to building a peaceful pursuit.

Recognize Your Obligation

God requires you to love those who differ from you. You are not obligated to agree with them or be indifferent to their views. You are obligated to love them, meaning you should invest the time needed to listen and learn what your opponent says to understand them properly. Show them that you are deeply interested in them, not in winning an argument against them. If they are wrong, you should be eager to help them appropriately in a manner of peace.

Remember Your Fallibility

“Fallibility” is a fancy word for the possibility that you might be wrong. God is the only one who is 100% correct on all things, and you are not God. This doesn’t mean you need to be a critical theorist of what the Bible explicitly teaches as truth. But, some things are preferential, and there are some truths that you might have in error yourself. It is vital to keep a teachable spirit and approach conversations with humility. It might be that you walk away being helped.

Mind Your Language

By this; I mean two things. You should be mindful of how you speak. Sarcasm, hyperbole, exaggeration, and misrepresentation are not helpful to a serious conversation. So watch your language and pay attention to how you articulate yourself. And be mindful of how your opponent uses words to communicate.

Develop Constructive Speech

A constructive speech was alluded to, but worth highlighting. When disagreeing with someone, you want to speak in a way that protects your position while moving forward to help your opponent. If this is your goal, you will be tuned to your words and careful in speaking what is appropriate for edification. This requires further research on how to talk constructively. It is helpful to keep a humble spirit about myself and ask questions that provoke practical thinking.

Pray for Power

God uses our words to produce maturity and insight in others. So, pray that He will help you with the way you respond to those who disagree with you. Ask Him to love others and seek peace between you both. Also, if time allows you, pray for your opponent and yourself that the truth comes to light for you both, which is what is most important. And God, who is sovereign over all, can soften hearts and prepare minds to receive the truth. He wants you to be godly, so yield to His power.

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