"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged:
condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned:
forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:"
- Luke 6:37
by Donna Brooker
From time to time the responsibility lies within us to correct errors we did not create. As Christians, if we are to pursue peace, we will sometimes need to humble ourselves for the sake of the happiness, welfare, or success of others. In doing so, we glorify God.
Scripture gives us an outstanding example of a peacekeeper in the form of Abigail. In 1 Samuel 25, we read about her mission to rectify a foolish decision made by her husband, Nabal. David and his men had kept watch over Nabal’s property, and afterward David asked Nabal for provisions.
Nabal denied him in a rude manner. When word of his insult reached David, he and his men headed out to kill Nabal’s men. It was the intercession of Abigail that protected these men from certain death.
Abigail and Nabal were contrasts in personality – she being intelligent and beautiful while he was surly and mean. Yet, God allowed them to be placed together, just as we often find ourselves placed with those who are different from us.
“Nabal” means “fool.” What parent would name a child “fool?” Some writers believe “Nabal” was a nickname given to him, a reflection of the type of man he was. Nabal and Abigail’s servants knew this, and they were aware of the woman who could fix his mistake.
In the same way Abigail received the report about her husband’s actions; do we sometimes receive reports of the behavior of others and feel the need to intercede for them? This can be exhausting! The position in which Abigail and Nabal found themselves is an extreme situation because lives were in the balance. Still, we can gain insight from Abigail about being peacemakers.
We must first determine how we plan to work with those who are different from us. Without being considered a push over by those who may ask us for help, sometimes we must intercede for the benefit of others. Perhaps God has placed us there for that reason.
Living as Peacekeepers
If we live as peacekeepers, as Abigail did, we must be ready to protect the innocent, just as she protected her servants. In 1 Samuel 25:18, she “lost no time” when she heard of Nabal’s rudeness and brought a gift to David to soften the misdeed of her husband. When we see a situation in which we can offer help, we need to do so quickly.
First Samuel 25:20 tells us that Abigail did not wait for the angry men, but rode ahead on her donkey to meet them. We must be ready to act when it is within our power.
Then we read, “When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: ‘My lord, let the blame be on me alone?” (1 Samuel 25:23-24 NIV). Peacekeepers must be willing to take the blame if necessary. They must be unafraid to confront the powers that be to correct the mistake.
At certain times in our lives, living at peace was a simple thing to do. When we were children, we may have been the first to apologize even when we believed we were innocent. We were more willing to forgive and continue in friendship with others.
As a college student the peacekeeper may have been the one who cleaned the bathroom after a warning by the resident assistant. This deed saved everyone a fine although it used up her time. In the end it benefitted everyone living in the dorm suite.
When we enter the work place or into the precious relationships of friendship and marriage, how do we live as a peacekeeper without feeling used?
In the workplace, although we are not connected with the same binding as in a marriage or as a parent with a child, we can do our part to help create a harmonious work environment. But how do we strive to “live at peace with everyone,” as Romans 12: 18 commands, without becoming self righteous or responsible for everyone in the process?
We will live at peace in many avenues of our life if we make two decisions: Be aware of what we are willing to do and what we are capable of doing. These decisions will set boundaries of which others can become aware.
If we will enforce these limits on our time and resources, we can determine which events we will act upon. When the need arises, those who work with us will be able to depend on us in extreme situations and will not make it a habit to call on our assistance with activities for which they themselves are responsible.
When it comes to working with customers, however, we must always assume they are right. When we take calls from unhappy customers, Abigail reminds us to respond quickly and meet them where they are. Not only will we keep the peace, but we will also keep a customer!
Keeping the Peace at Home
In our homes God has tied us with those who give us the most joy and the most pain. Keeping the peace with our parents is different from keeping peace with our children. In each situation we are required to humble ourselves and to act with surety.
As parents age, we must be respectful when they need more assistance in their lives. We must be willing to intercede for them, in a well thought out manner. We will be well- served to read current literature and know what agencies are available to assist them.
With our children, we must give direction. Strangely enough, a set schedule and disciplined habits will help peace reign in a household. When everyone is part of a routine, living at peace with one another is much easier.
A spouse has been placed with a person to whom she was attracted. This probably means they are opposites, which may leave one of them making allowances for the other in many situations.
As we learned from Abigail’s example, sometimes the best way to remedy a situation is to meet it head-on and fix it. As spouses, we need that extra bit of help on occasion, and sometimes we also must give it. This does not permit either spouse to take part in destructive behaviors, but it allows for differences as each reacts to the situations in which they find themselves.
Finally, we need to live at peace with our church family and in our places of worship. As in our biological families, such diversity among people and talents can at times place us at odds with one another. When personalities conflict in the church, we must be ready to meet the individual who has wronged us, discuss the difficulty, and repair the situation. To bring about peace with a sister in the Lord is to bring peace to our souls.
We should be ready to take the first step to make peace with others in all these aspects of our lives, our relationships and avocations. Whether someone has wronged us, or has wronged another individual, we should be ready to step forward to help make amends if doing so is within our ability.
Let us be like Abigail, who was called to act when another would not. She was given the means and courage to intercede and was blessed for it. We must assume that God will bless us when we make amends and strive to live at peace. And when we take action to live at peace with others, we will glorify Him as well.
– Donna Brooker lives in Gainesville, Florida. She and her husband, Don, are members of the University City Church of Christ and also work with the church in Cross City where Don preaches. They own Security Systems of North Central Florida, Inc., and are the parents of two grown sons.
Reprinted with permission from Christian Woman Magazine, Nashville, Tennessee