Galatians 5:22, 23—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The word “peace” comes from the word eirene, the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew shalom, which expresses the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances. The word eirene strongly suggests the rule of order in place of chaos. When a person is dominated by peace, he has a calm, inner stability that results in the ability to conduct himself peacefully, even in the midst of circumstances that would normally be nerve-wracking. Rather than allow the pressures of life to break him, a person who is consumed by peace is whole, complete, orderly, stable, and poised for blessing.
Peace is the result of resting in a relationship with God. Peace is tranquility—a state of rest—that comes from seeking after God. It’s the opposite of chaos. Peace (eirene) is God’s gift of wholeness and is derived from eiro (to join, tie together into a whole). When all parts are joined together as one or as whole, when they are properly aligned, true peace comes.
Peace is the legacy which Christ gave to His disciples in John 14:27—Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. After all, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Happy is the man who has received the heavenly gift of peace; it will, in the midst of external storms and troubles, preserve his mind in a tranquil state. It is independent of external circumstances. It is most especially enjoyed in times of affliction and persecution. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”
A Christian’s life should not only be characterized by outward peace with others, but also a personal, inward peace. A Christian with a troubled, fearful mind dishonors God. We need to understand that to be troubled means we do not trust God’s sovereignty, wisdom, faithfulness, or goodness. It is an indication that we have not yet completely surrendered our lives over to the Lord.
Philippians 4:6, 7—Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
We are not to have anxiety. We are not to worry. We are not to fear. Worry and fear does much harm. Besides being proven that it is destructive to our physical health (worry is a large contributor to heart disease, weakening of the immune system, gastro-intestinal diseases, migraines, ulcers, high blood pressure, etc.), it is destructive to our spiritual lives as well. Why?
A mind that is occupied with worry is a mind that is not focused on the Lord. When we fret, we lose sight of God’s providential working. We stop seeking His input and are tempted to handle our issues with fleshly wisdom. We try to correct our circumstances when, perhaps, they were ordained by the Lord to correct us. We get distracted from carrying out the Lord’s purpose and plan for our lives. We lose sight of the Lord’s goodness and we are tempted to become negative and ungrateful. Ultimately, we take our eyes off the source of true and lasting peace.
The peace of God acts as a soldier on guard to protect our hearts and minds. It will not allow anxiety and despondency to sneak in the back door. The peace of God is stronger than the worry of the flesh. Just as God is greater than our circumstances, so is God’s peace greater than our fears. We can experience inward peace in the midst of the most trying times.
This does not seem possible or rational. It is hard for the world to comprehend or understand how all seems to be collapsing around us, yet we can be perfectly calm and composed. But, that is why Paul says “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…” Since the world does not understand it, it is incapable of teaching us how to experience divine peace. You can chant, do yoga, practice your bio-rhythms, listen to meditation music, burn aromatic candles, consume your herb, pop your pills, take a drink, or “shop-til-you-drop,” but you will never find the inward tranquility that God gives. It comes from Him alone.
There are four basic keys to living in peace:
Paul says, “but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).” Brethren, whatever is bothering us, we should take it to God in prayer. Whatever we are facing—whatever we have need of—we must bring it to the Lord. We ought not be bashful about bringing any troubling matter to Him, however great or small. God is interested in the big things and the small things in our life. If it concerns us, it concerns Him, period.
Philippians 4:6 says, “let your requests be made known to God.” How would you like that to look? What changes would you like to see? What would you like for God to do? We need to be specific in our requests. We need to tell God exactly what we want. If it is not an unrighteous desire, we need not be timid in stating our requests. We may ask whatever we wish of God (according to His will). Once we have made our requests known in faith, we need to with faith wait patiently and calmly for Him to answer.
The second key to acquiring peace is also found in Philippians 4:6. Paul says that we are to submit our requests along “with thanksgiving.” Too many times we fail to count our blessings. We fail to acknowledge how good God has been to us already. I am reminded the stanza in “Amazing Grace”—“Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come. Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” We need to reflect on how God has faithfully brought us to this moment and thank Him. We must think of the many dangers, toils, and snares He has delivered us from and be grateful. We cannot only thank the Lord for deliverances of the past. We should also thank Him for our present blessings. No matter how harsh may our current situation is, surely we can acknowledge that we are enjoying the love of God and His blessing right now.
Psalm 28:7—The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him. Psalm 118:29—Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
3. Dwell on the positive
When it comes to our thinking, we must dwell on the positive. Paul commands, in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
I believe that this point is where we fail most. Too often we allow our minds to dwell on the negative in our lives rather than the positive. We seem to be quite skilled at seeing our glasses as half empty rather than half full. However, we all can find a silver lining in the darkest cloud, if we’re willing to look for it. This should especially be so with Christians. After all, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).
4. Obedience to God’s Word
The last key to enjoying divine peace of mind is striving to obey the Bible. Paul says, in Philippians 4:9, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” There are three ways that obedience leads to peace:
A. If we obey God’s Word, we will avoid many pitfalls in this life that bring unnecessary heartache. We can avoid so many problems if we would simply apply the teachings of Christ to our lives. Psalm 119:165—Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble. Proverbs 3:1, 2—My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.
B. True peace comes when we know in our hearts that we are doing all that you can to please God. Paul says, in Acts 24:16, “This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” With obedience comes a clear conscience, and a clear conscience promotes peace of mind.
C. Lastly, the teachings of Christ emphasize looking beyond self and serving others. The more we take our focus off ourselves—our predicaments, our troubles, our difficulties, our afflictions—and focus on how we can make life brighter for someone else or how we can glorify God, our minds will be liberated. We need to put into practice Christ’s demand for selfless service. Galatians 6:2—Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Now remember the four keys to living in peace: prayer, thanksgiving, dwelling on the positive, and obedience to God’s Word. These four things will help you continually hide peace in your hearts. II Thessalonians 3:16—Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.
Challenge: Seek to live in harmony with everyone in your sphere of influence this week. Be slow to anger and slow to speak, no matter how chaotic the situation becomes.