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Seek Peace and Pursue It
Sometimes peace can be gained, but it takes lots of hard work to maintain it. There are a lot of people who come to a resolution and finally obtain peace. But because of subsequent circumstances, they get offended once again and lose their hard-earned peace.

That’s why we’re told in Ephesians 4 that we have to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (see Ephesians 4:3). That word “endeavor” is the Greek word spoudadzo, which means to hasten, to go as fast as you can, or to put all of your heart into a pursuit. This tells us that it will not be easy to maintain peace in our relationships. We’ll have to continually work at it.

When the writer of Hebrews 12:14 told us to follow peace with all men and “holiness,” he used the Greek word hagios, which means to be separate or to be different from the world. Then the verse goes on to say, “…without which no man shall see the Lord.”

That is exactly what the Lord meant when He asked me, “Do you want to have revival in your life and your church?” When we harbor wrong attitudes in our hearts, those attitudes restrict us from moving up into higher realms of God’s presence and glory. We won’t be able to enter into the full dimension of God that’s available to us because those negative attitudes will block us from experiencing His anointing.

That’s why we are instructed to keep our hearts free of offense. However, to obey that divine command requires spiritual maturity. In fact, the next verse goes on to say, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God…” (v. 15). That phrase “looking diligently” as used in this verse is the Greek compound word episkopos, taken from the Greek word epi, which means over, and the word skopos,which means to look. When these two words are compounded, the new word episkopos means one who looks over or one who has the oversight of something. This is a person who has a managerial role or a supervisory position. It is the same word that’s translated “bishop” in First Timothy 3:1.

To get the full idea of what this phrase means, you have to stop and think for a moment about the role of a bishop. A bishop is responsible for churches. If he is a good bishop, he makes sure that the churches under his care have his focused attention so they will grow and thrive. If he is a poor bishop, however, he won’t pay attention to the condition of those churches, and they will eventually fall apart. But whether he does well or poorly, he must give account to God for what happens in those churches because he is the one responsible for them as their bishop.

Now that same word episkopos ? when used in the context of strife, unforgiveness, and offense ? is translated as “looking diligently.” God is plainly telling us here to act as the “bishops” of our own hearts. Just as a bishop is responsible for what happens in a group of churches, we are responsible for what happens in our hearts. This means we can’t blame someone else for what we allow to develop inside our own hearts; God will hold us accountable for it.
 
When people hear this scriptural principle, there’s usually someone who will say, “You just don’t know what So-and-so has done to me. There’s a reason I’m hardhearted and bitter. It’s not my fault. I have a reason to be like this.” When people talk like that, they are basically deflecting responsibility for their own inner attitudes and attempting to justify their own wrong actions in taking offense.

Since offenses come to all of us, we each will have a “reason” to feel offended at one time or another. But not one of us has an excuse for giving in to that temptation. We have to be careful to look diligently to keep our hearts free from offense.

Hebrews 12:15 goes on to tell us why it’s so crucial that we obey this command: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” This word “root” is the Greek word pidzo, which describes something that is deeply implanted. This tells us that bitterness is not a superficial issue; rather, it develops deep and entangled roots in our souls. The word “bitterness” is the Greek word pikria, which describes something that is inwardly sour, caustic, or sharp. It describes a person who is so inwardly sour and bitter that it shows up on his face as a scowl.

What is in a person will eventually comes out of him. Jesus said, “…Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). It isn’t difficult to know what is in people’s hearts. Just let them talk, and their own words will give them away. Eventually what is in them will come out of them. The mouth is the great revealer of the heart. In fact, whatever is in a person’s heart usually dominates the things he or she talks about, whether good or bad.

For example, if you were to strike up a conversation with me, you’d find that I talk about a lot about Russia. I talk about television in Russia, the church in Russia, all of our outreaches in Russia, and so on. Russia dominates my conversation because it occupies my thoughts and fills my heart. Russia is what I think about, what I meditate on. Russia is the place I’ve given my life to for the Gospel’s sake. That’s why it comes out of my mouth.

A person’s mouth is the outlet for the overflow of a full heart. Thus, if his heart is filled with bitterness, that bitterness will manifest itself in his life. Its caustic, defiling presence will saturate his attitudes and be conveyed through what he says and how he reacts in different situations. A person cannot conceal what fills him. Eventually it will come out.

So with that principle in mind, ask yourself this: What does my mouth reveal about the condition of MY heart?

Every one of us should ask ourselves that question. Whatever we meditate on will take root and produce fruit in our lives. Therefore, we have to constantly guard against what we allow to dominate our thoughts. God doesn’t allow us to justify bitterness in our hearts just because we’ve been wronged or because we have a “good reason.” Those so-called “reasons” are simply traps — designed to hinder or destroy us if we allow them to remain lodged in our minds where they can grow and eventually dominate our thoughts. When we’re wounded by some sort of offense, that wound will fester if we leave it unchecked. We must determine to let go of that offense and move forward.

Source: You Can Get Over It: How To Confront, Forgive, and Move On by Rick Renner.
Excerpt permission granted by Rick Renner Ministries

Author Biography

Rick Renner
Web site: Rick Renner Ministries
 
Rick and Denise met while they were each on an individual quest to wholeheartedly follow God’s plan for their lives. Rick was a college student, growing in his teaching ministry. Denise was a talented vocalist. She chose not to pursue a course that held the prospect of performing with the Metropolitan Opera so that she could instead pursue a relationship with Rick and fulfill her heart’s desire to enter full-time ministry.
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