14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled (Hebrews 12:14–15, NKJV).
Christians are under a divine directive to pursue peace and holiness. We must run after peace and holiness like an animal chasing its prey. Without these attributes of faith, we will not see the Lord. While rage, vengeance, and violence drive the faithless, we must consistently and carefully stand in God’s grace by removing and avoiding from our hearts every vestige of malice and bitterness. The slightest bit of resentment or anger poisons and defiles the soul. A root of bitterness in the heart infects others; it is not dormant. Holding a grudge when someone hurts us is not the way to pursue peace and holiness. It chips away at peaceful thoughts and interrupts holy words and conduct toward that person. Bitter attitudes and treatment of other disrupts peace and retards holiness as it becomes a stumbling block to others. Bitterness builds barriers that solidify hostility. As Solomon said, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Prov. 18:19). Do your part to remove every hindrance to peace and holiness in your home, your community, your nation, and most definitely with your brethren (Rom. 12:18; 1 Thess. 5:13).
If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them (Ecclesiastes 5:8, NKJV).
It grieves us when we witness oppression and violence, but it should not surprise and astonish us. Justice and righteousness continue to be perverted in this country and around the world. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). While acknowledging these wrongs, Solomon instructs us to remember that those in authority are also under higher power. This reality ought to be a check against harassment and injustice, but even that is not always the case. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2). What are we to do? (1) Remember that God is sovereign and holds the unrighteous accountable for their sins (2 Cor. 5:10). Jesus called out the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees who “devour widows’ houses” while pretending to be pious with long prayers (Matt. 23:14). God will bring justice to bear on His day of judgment (Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:4-11). (2) Keep our faith in God instead of putting it in human beings (Jer. 17:5). God will not fail the righteous (Heb. 13:5-6). (3) We can go about our daily business (Eccl. 5:18-20). Honest labor is God’s gift that prevents us from being overburdened with anxiety over life’s troubles (Eccl. 5:20). Daily labor to provide for ourselves and our families brings joy and contentment in the face of life’s injustices. (4) Remember to pray (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). (5) We can aid those harmed by others (Luke 10:29-37). Be neighborly and help one another instead of being suspicious and divisive.