(Vs. 14) "Follow peace with all men." To follow peace and harmony with others is not only to desire it, but to exert the utmost in a man's power to attain it with everyone. (1) IN THE CHURCH. "How blessed it is when brethren dwell together in unity." Read Eph. 4:1-3; Col. 3:12-16. (2) IN THE HOME, between husband and wife, parents and children (Col. 3:18-21). (3) IN OUR NATURAL RELATIONSHIPS with friends, neighbors, and co-workers, yea, even with our enemies as much as is possible (Rom. 12:17-20). Our God is the God of peace, our Saviour is the Prince of Peace, the fruit of the Spirit is peace, and we are called to peace and to believe the gospel of peace. Shall we be characterized as quarrelsome, trouble-makers, and contentious? God forbid!
"Follow holiness, without which no man shall see the lord." There has to be a two-fold meaning here:
1. The holiness or RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST, which is to be followed after by believing on Him and receiving in Him perfect sanctification and acceptance before God. "Ye are complete in Him." (I Cor. 1:30; Rom. 10:4; II Cor. 5:21.)
2. The holiness or GODLINESS OF AN OBEDIENT WALK. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." If he is not a new person with a new ATTITUDE, a new CHARACTER, and a new CONDUCT, he is not in Christ and shall not enter heaven. We are justified by faith, and our faith is justified by our works (James 2:17-21; Gal. 5:22-26).
(Vs. 15) We are to look carefully and diligently TO OURSELVES and TO ONE ANOTHER, lest any of us fall from or depart from the true gospel of the grace of God (Heb. 3:13-14). Men do not fall from the free favor and love of God in Christ, which is everlasting, unchangeable, and implanted in regeneration (Rom. 8:34-39); but some profess to believe, profess to know that grace and that love, and profess to embrace that gospel who later depart, deny, and compromise it (I John 2:19). The heart is deceitful and wicked (Prov. 4:23).
This root of bitterness is a root that lies hidden in a man's heart and is apt to spring up in an unexpected manner and time to bear bitter fruit of contention, malice, pride, and covetousness which will divide friends, churches, families, and even believers, I must set a watch upon my heart, my mind, and my tongue, lest Satan get an advantage and many be affected.
(Vs. 16) The birthright which Esau treated with contempt and sold for a mere morsel of meat was more than the greater part of his father's estate. The birthright WAS A SPIRITUAL POSITION God's man in the family. It carried with it spiritual blessings and Divine favor. Esau's desires were sensual, abandoned, and fleshly; so he threw aside the favor of God to satisfy his current designs. Shall we be so foolish as to even consider that anything the world has to offer is worth departing from the fellowship of our Lord? (Mark 8:34-38).
(Vs. 17) Those who are so foolish to allow anything in this life to cause them to renounce their faith and duty as children of the living God will, like Esau, someday weep with bitter tears when it is beyond their power to recover what is lost! Guard against fleshly appetites and apostasy; guard against neglecting spiritual blessings and privileges lest you come, at last, to bitterly mourn your foolishness and wickedness.
We have entered a race. The prize goes to those who FINISH (Heb. 10:35-39). There will be difficult times, perhaps heavy trials; and along the way there will be tempting pastures of pleasures which appeal to our flesh. We must go on! We may proceed rapidly or slowly; we may even stumble and fall; but looking to Christ, we continue! I have a responsibility to the DOCTRINES OF CHRIST, MY LORD. Neither the frowns nor smiles of men will cause me to surrender them. I have a responsibility to the CHURCH OF THE LORD JESUS. I have a responsibility to MY FAMILY to keep it together, to set a godly example in worship, integrity, and faithfulness. I must not lay down this trust nor fail to see it through. I have a responsibility to the CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL! He loves me and I love Him.