You Can Have Real Peace

Our society talks, sings and writes about peace, but has so little of it. It’s as if we live in a dream world, and to affirm this dream, a well known biblical phrase is heralded across the airwaves and from Church pulpits at Christmas. I’m sure you know the phrase:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)

The reality of life is different from the dream. Instead of real peace, we live in a world beset by wars, conflicts, and discontentment. Jerusalem, the “City of Peace,” has been a place of continuing unrest for millennia. America, Canada and several other nations, are paying a heavy price in monetary and human terms for two wars, thousands of kilometres away in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Africa, tribal conflicts of various sorts rage in many parts of the continent. Across the world, stress and uncertainty arising from economic crises and an ever increasing rate of crime and violence have come upon us like armed bandits, robbing us of that elusive concept called peace.

So I ask, where’s the peace in our world today?

Of course, this isn’t a new question. A famous writer, H.W. Longfellow, echoed this sentiment long ago when he wrote:

And in despair I bowed my head, “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”
(From the poem, Bells on Christmas Day, 1861)

Some of you may ask why there is such an absence of peace. The answer lies in two words: envy and fear.

Envy

Envy describes that dark emotion of discontentment, or jealousy, which makes us begrudge others for their position and possessions. It’s resentment and sometimes malice towards others, because they have something we want for ourselves. It often begins with self-comparison, which leads to discontent and then resentment, until envy festers into a deep seated hatred which may lead to sin.

James 4:1-3 states that coveting (envying) is a prime cause of wars and deadly conflicts. The exact quote is:

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Warnings against envy are shown elsewhere in the Bible. Psalm 73 describes the psalmist being overcome by his envy of the wicked. This psalm tells us that envy distorts our perception of reality, making others seem better than they really are.

Isn’t that true? We look at our neighbour’s neatly cut, weed-free green lawn, and his shiny new car in the driveway, and envy begins to slowly swallow us. We might say:

“He’s not a Christian, and yet, he’s so prosperous! He’s got no problems, but I obey God, and look, my lawn is full of weeds, and I’ve a ten year old car which looks like junk!”

When we say and believe things like this, our peace and contentment is slowly devoured by the enemy of envy. Left unchecked, envy like this could lead us into doing harm to our “prosperous” neighbour.

It couldn’t happen you say? Around the world, the reality is that many people allow their unbridled envy to run wild, and this leads them first into a moral lapse which then spawns serious crimes like robbery and murder.

What a difference it would make to our peace of mind, if when we are tempted by envy, we were able to remember the 10th commandment (Exodus 20:17) which tells us not to covet that which belongs to our neighbour! What peace we would have, if only we loved the law of God and truly lived by it! (Psalm 119:165).

Of course, the opposite of envy is contentment. Lest we forget, godliness coupled with an attitude of contentment is far better than the greedy pursuit of riches which sometimes stems from the envy of others’ possessions. The Bible says it this way:

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Fear

Whereas envy distorts our perception of reality by making us wrongly think others are better, fear, and its cousin, worry makes us think others are more powerful. Fear also causes us to believe that some situations are too big to handle. The main point is this: when we allow our fear of others’ perceived power, or the circumstances of life to overwhelm us, mental torture takes over and robs us of our peace of mind (1 John 4:18).

In particular, Psalm 37:8 warns us not to fret because “it only causes harm.” Instead of giving fear permission to steal our peace, we should remind ourselves:

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

When we commit our fears and anxieties to God, who is larger and far more powerful that any person, or circumstances that can come against us, we have the assurance our minds will be at peace.

Peace is Possible

Is it possible to have true peace? The resounding answer is “Yes!”, but real peace can come only from The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, whom the prophet Isaiah says will usher in a government that will continually multiply peace on the Earth (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Jesus has many names. One of them is, YHWH Shalom, which means, “The Lord is Peace” (Judges 6:24).

The truth is, we can never have real peace until the Prince of Peace takes up residence in our hearts and we allow Him to rule and reign there. An ancient philosopher and religious figure, Augustine, said:

“Lord, Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till we find our rest in Thee.”

Christ specifically promised to give us His peace (John 14:27) as a fruit or product of an indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and by this, our minds would be freed from being troubled, afraid or envious.

This peace of Jesus is flawless. The Bible says:

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

This statement also implies and is in sync with another biblical statement which says we have to learn the art of contentment which maintains our peace, (Philippians 4:11) just as we learn fear and envy which rob us of our peace.

Earlier, I quoted a portion of a poem by Longfellow which talked about peace. In this poem, Longfellow saw beyond the present despair of a peaceless Earth, to a future time when God’s promised hope of peace would be realized. In the last stanza of his poem, Longfellow wrote:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
the wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men.”
(From the poem, Bells on Christmas Day, 1861)

Longfellow understood that true peace was tied to a close relationship with God.

Do you want to have God’s peace? Well you can! Philippians 4:6-7 shows us how:

“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.”

Comments

  • I came across your article, i think your blog is cool, keep working !

  • I agree with pretty much everything you had to say about envy. it is a terrible thing that sadly feeds our echonomy 🙁

  • Astri Lia

    How can you have Peace, when so many do not know the PRINCE OF PEACE.
    which is Jesus Christ

  • paul6

    mankind never maintain peace during life and generations
    that’s why God send messengers (prophets) to guide us in selection for right directions ,we are in the test part of life !
    however I strongly believe in judgment day where every one face the truth
    moment ,which way you selected !

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