We did a monthly Bible study challenge on the topic of Peace. It is a topic that is hard to talk about if you don't have it. Peace of mind, peace of heart, peace within a home or marriage is something that many are so greatly devoid of. Yet, peace is an inheritance and a thing that is available to us through God and accessible with His Spirit.
Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace in the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6:
For to us, a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given; And the government shall be upon His shoulder, And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (AMP translation)
This verse shows that He is:
He is a wonderful counselor.
He is a mighty God.
He is an everlasting Father.
He is the prince of peace.
In an article from GotQuestions.org it introduces the peace that Jesus provides like this:
"In a world filled with war and violence, it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace. But physical safety and political harmony don’t necessarily reflect the kind of peace He’s talking about (John 14:27).
The Hebrew word for “peace,” shalom, is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquility of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word eirene means “unity and accord”; Paul uses eirene to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”
With that in mind, we can quickly see the missing link as to why many lack peace in their lives. However, what are other things that we identify that are peace thieves?
Here are 5 key factors that disturb peace:
It takes a lot of energy and effort to hold on to unforgiveness. It is a heavyweight that practically shackles individuals to an offense and past situation. Unforgiveness spreads. It becomes bitterness, resentment, anger, and the like. Jesus was on to something when He showed the world, while hanging on a cross, to release forgiveness.
“Father Forgive Them, They Know Not What They Do.” (Luke 23:24)
He preached that if we do not forgive others of their offenses, wrongdoings, shortcomings, and sins, God will not forgive us of ours (Matthew 6). There are many things that you and I trip up daily that are not right in God's eyes, and we will repent and ask for grace, yet withhold it from others.
Unforgiveness is heavy. It blocks growth & blessings. It always shows up somewhere (i.e. hurting people hurt people). So, if you desire peace to be restored, you must forgive. If you are struggling to do so, ask God to help you to do so.
God has an order. He gives boundaries. He tells you in His word what is good and what will cause harm. He gives us His Spirit to live within us to convict us when we are going in the wrong direction. However, He has also given us free will to decide and choose if we will listen or ignore.
There are consequences to every decision. Growing up, if you did not listen to your parents when they said the stove was hot and touched it anyway, well, you got burned. That disobedience causes tears, pain, and potentially long-term scaring long after the event has happened. This is a small practical example of how stepping outside of God's instructions, His will, leads to a lack of peace, joy, love, and the like, and instead brings pain, unnecessary heartache, etc.
Listen to God, meditate on His Word, apply it and He will not only keep you in peace, but teach you how to protect it. (Psalm 1)
3. Worry & fear
I would have put this point as #1, but all of these things are equally important when we talk about the peace thieves. Worry and fear 1,000% rob people of peace. Too much of it can kill a person because it leads to stress in the body.
It is important to pinpoint those things that invite fear and overconcern such as certain people who only harp on the negative, or the news and media, or the root of a bombarding thoughts that needs to be replaced with the truth. God's will for you is to have peace.
Here are a few scriptures that I love to meditate on whenever I feel myself going in that direction:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7 NIV
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Psalm 34:4-7 NIV
Busyness comes from several different mindsets, but also a lack of balance and wisdom. Just a few of the mindsets that produces busyness can stem from an underlining void, or a belief that one is in lack, or a fear of missing out, or people pleasing.
It can be produced when one does not prioritize or value rest. Perhaps, you pile on your plate because you believe that “if you don't get it done no one will”. Perhaps, there is a lack of knowing how to set healthy boundaries and say “no”. The list can go on.
Productivity is great, but busyness for busy sake is detrimental to peace. Jesus says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30 NIV
Peace and rest go hand & hand. It is not wise for us to be stretched to capacity where it leads to burnout, exhaustion, and resentment. A full plate steals peace. We all need time to recharge and to be refreshed. Even the Creator finished His word & rested on the 7th day.
We make TERRIBLE gods. That is precisely why when everything points back to ourselves, we feel the pressure to always perform to our highest and best selves. When everything depends on us, we collapse under the weight of it or become the most self-absorbed, ego manic. Self-focus may bring temporary peace in a moment, but it is circumstantial.
You had a stressful day, you go for a walk.
You are at peace and all is well until you've lost your job.
You do meditations 3 times a week but have no peace in your marriage.
The peace that provides us is not dependent on our circumstances being perfect. It's a supernatural peace that we get to walk in that exceeds all situations, all circumstances, all conditions, whether favorable or not. It's something that nothing and no one can offer us, nor take away. This peace is like drinking from the living water that never runs dry. It's when your soul is at peace (mind, will, and emotions) because you know Who is with you and Who you belong to. It's better than anything you or I can do for ourselves.
Let's esteem God. In the end, this brings us the most fulfillment, peace, and confidence (Matthew 16:24).
What are other peace thieves that you can think of?
These peace thieves take their toll on people every single day. We are all tempted with them at different points, but as we renew our minds and meditate on the promises of God, we grow to overcome them through grace. So, peace is available to you today through Jesus Christ who is the Prince of Peace.
Lastly, I would say this scripture sums it up the best for the kind of confidence and contentment we hope to have as a result of keeping the peace thieves out of our life:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:11-13
Until next time,