Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
This verse follows after a section addressing discipline, namely God’s discipline of His children. I think that vital, because it will require discipline to pursue the things I am told to pursue in this verse. I am told to pursue peace and sanctification.
First, I note that I am told to pursue these things. The idea of the word is to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing. I think of the children’s game Tag where there were dozens of kids running around and the one who was “it” tried to catch any of the others. Based on how the concordance defines the word, I am probably getting warmer in how to understand it. This tells me two things about the pursuit of peace and sanctification. First, it tells me that they can be caught. Second, it tells me that I will not always catch them.
Why peace with all men? In short, I take this to mean that I am not to be stirring up conflict. There will be conflict without me causing any. This instruction, on the other hand, is telling me to be a peacemaker, which jives perfectly with Jesus’ statement about peacemakers during the Sermon on the Mount.
Sanctification is the process of being set apart and made pure. I will not, on this side of Heaven, ever attain full purity, but I should pursue it.
I saw one of those motivational posters that encouraged the reader to aim for the moon so that even a miss would land them among the stars. While the exhortation does strike me as insipid, it does serve as an illustration of what the pursuit of an ideal like purity or peace with all men achieves. I may not ever be pure before I am taken to Heaven and there may never be peace between others and myself, but my pursuit of those goals will get me focused on God — Who is my Peace and Who sanctifies me — and will bring me into alignment with two of the Beatitudes, viz. being a peacemaker and being pure in heart.
Father, I admit that I do no always pursue peace with others or sanctification. Please fix my eyes on these things and cause my heart to know how desirable they are. Give me a willingness to pursue them and frequent enough catching them to encourage me to pursue them still more.