Day 15. (Well, technically it should be day 17, but I’m still a couple of days behind ;) )
I’m finding that it’s getting harder for me to figure out what to write. One topic for 31 days in a row is not quite as easy as I thought. But I’ve learned a lot, and I am still peeling back layers of understanding as I continue to study and search for peace.
So far, I’ve found that peace comes from these things: Righteousness Fellowship/Intimacy with God Trusting God Meekness A Love of God’s Law The Presence of God Jesus
If these things bring peace, and I know that this is what brings peace, then why do I so often struggle to have peace?
I believe the enemy of peace is wrapped up in one little word: sin.
Billy Graham wrote it this way: “We have seen that the most terrible, most devastating fact of the universe is sin. The cause of all trouble, the root of all sorrow, the dread of every man lies in this one small word: sin. It has reversed the nature of man. It has destroyed the inner harmony of man’s life. It has robbed him of his nobility. It has caused man to be caught in the Devil’s trap. ….It is a tornado on the loose. It is a volcano gone wild. It is a madman broken loose from the asylum. It is a gangster on the prowl. It is a roaring lion seeking its prey. It is a streak of lightning heading toward the earth. It is a guillotine cutting off the head. It is a deadly cancer eating its way into the souls of men. It is a raging torrent that sweeps everything before it.”
Sin brings everything that is opposite of peace. It is the enemy of peace in my life.
Worry Pride Selfishness Jealousy Envy Self-Centeredness Gossip Bitterness Selfish Ambition Greed (and so many more...)
All are enemies of peace.
1 Peter 3:8-12 says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For ‘whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’ ”
Those verses that Peter is quoting come from Psalm 34. From the Old Testament to the New Testament all the way to today, people have desired and continue to desire to “love life and see good days”…but so often we go about achieving it in the wrong way. Sin poisons our intentions and our desires…we seek peace and life and good days, but we seek it in things that end up causing us strife and stress and worry and fear. We fill our days with so much stuff, with mile-long lists of things to accomplish and do…we pursue careers and achievements and power and prestige and success…we seek after the latest cool gadgets or the nicest clothes or the biggest houses. We pursue lots of things in this life. And they’re not all bad things in and of themselves. But often I think in the process of so many pursuits, we lose sight of the most important pursuit…and we lose sight of the purpose of it all because we lose our focus…and peace gets lost along the way.
God’s way is the only way that brings true peace. God’s way is the only way that brings truly good days (even on the “bad” days). And God’s way is the way of righteousness…righteousness through Jesus, through obeying His Word and through intimacy with Him.
We have to seek peace and pursue it. This implies an active faith…a faith that spurs us to DO good…a faith that calls us to BLESS others. The things Peter mentions – unity, sympathy, love, tenderness of heart, humility of mind – these require action on our part…we have to pursue them. Because our hearts wander…sin creeps in and wages war on peace and on righteousness and on our relationship with God.
Sometimes we don’t even realize it’s there. Sin sneaks into the hidden corners, the places we ignore. It comes when we’re busy, when we’re distracted, when we lose focus…when we’re pursuing other things. It comes through apathy, when we’re coasting on auto-pilot, or when we’ve switched over to survival mode. We can justify sin, call it by other names, but the result is the same: lack of peace. Instead of peace we feel discontentment, fear, worry, stress.
And if we stop long enough to pay attention, we can recognize the warning signs in our souls. The missing peace. The discontentment. That little red flag that tells us something isn’t quite right. That lack of intimacy with God.
Our souls crave intimacy with God. Peace comes from that intimacy. But sin is like a wall that separates us from that intimacy…it’s like a poisonous fog that blinds us to the reality of God’s goodness and love. We have to fight sin if we are going to pursue peace and righteousness and intimacy with God.
Jesus already paid the price of our sin on the cross…we can have victory over sin in our lives, we don’t have to allow it rule. Instead, we can let peace rule, we can let God rule. Like Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” But we have to let it rule. We have to intentionally pursue peace, intentionally pursue intimacy with God, intentionally pursue righteousness.
Psalm 139:23-24 should be my daily prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Test me and know my anxious thoughts! Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Sin is the enemy of peace. I have to be willing to take an honest look at my heart and allow God to show me any sin that is hiding there. I have to actively “turn away from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Ps 34:14).
But this requires slowing down the hurried pace of life…setting aside all those things that pile up in my days, all those other pursuits that take my focus away from God, all those things that distract me from my relationship with Him…and taking time to care for my soul and invest in my relationship with Jesus.
Sin is the enemy of peace. Today I am taking a deep look at my heart and my soul, and allowing God to reveal to me anything, anything, that offends Him…anything that is poisoning the peace in my life…anything that is hindering intimacy with Him.
Today I am pursuing peace.