Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14)
“Strive” is an appropriate translation for the imperative here. It communicates concentrated, vigorous effort. The author is saying, I want you to pursue this with the passion of a hound pursuing a fox. And the fox we are to pursue is the twofold goal of harmony and holiness.
Maintaining peace requires serious striving. Christ purchased peace, and “he himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). Discord is inevitable in our fractured age, even in the church—but this is no reason to give up! We strive to grow in harmony and to shed the burdens and sins that hold us back from it. Jesus Himself told us, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). We won’t have perfect harmony before Christ returns, but in reliance on the Holy Spirit, we can be a small taste of heavenly community.
And how do we foster such harmony? Well, holiness provides the steady framework, the fertile soil, for the harmony that we enjoy. As we grow in holiness together from the shared wellspring of the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts, we will also grow in harmony with one another and with God. Neither harmony nor holiness is an optional extra. They come from the work of Christ’s Spirit in us and thus are evidence that we really belong to Him.
This article was adapted from the sermon “Essentials of Christian Maturity” by Alistair Begg.