GRACE & PEACE
“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).
Controversy, Part 18
Paul teaches us that we should be at peace with all men, so long as it is possible with us (Rom. 12:18). In other words, we ought not to be cantankerous, belligerent, and always ready for a quarrel. The elders of the church, in particular, must not be disposed to this sinful pattern of mind (1 Tim. 3:3). The problem is, in this fallen world, it is not
possible to avoid conflict without falling into faithlessness. Our charge therefore should be to avoid all unnecessary conflict. We must come into conflict with our surrounding secular society to the extent that we are faithful to Christ, and when this happens we must not back down. But the issue here is always the gospel; if we are prepared to compromise the gospel for the sake of peace (which the gospel requires of us), we then find the requirement to seek peace has evaporated because we have rejected the basis for it. Peace at any price always collapses on itself.
Further, sometimes people press irrational conflicts on us that may have nothing directly to do with the gospel (and we are to avoid these, as far as it is possible). But we are not in a position to issue a decree and make all irrational conflicts go away. In these situations, we should seek to conduct ourselves with as much biblical dignity as possible.