In our second last week of the Beatitudes series, we are learning about how we are called to much more than a worldly peace, using the teachings of Jesus to show the importance of internal peace.
Matt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
The most important peace we can bring is internal peace into people’s hearts. Of all people we are the ones with that ability. We have Christ, the Prince of peace. We can’t be peacemakers if we don’t have peace ourselves.
Rom 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
Here are four areas where, we are called to peace:
1. The Wars Within
When James writes to the twelve scattered tribes of Israel around the world, he tells them that the strife in their relationships springs from the strife in their inner selves.
James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
Wars on the outside come from wars on the inside. Until we are at peace within ourselves we will always be in some kind of agitation in our relationships. Actions of war, and of evil are never justified by the fact that another did it to us first. God can be the only one qualified as Judge. Our call is to bring soft answers to loud, aggressive language.
Prov 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger
Retaliation only makes weeping wounds worse. Jesus is the ultimate example of the “soft-answer” person. He is completely innocent of all wrong doing, in fact, only the opposite. He is guilty of only ever doing good, and not just good, but goodness that transforms the world of those He touches. Yet in the absence of justice, He is condemned to die like the worst of criminals. Hated for no reason, crucified without mercy. His retort? – ‘I forgive you’. He is not out for revenge. He is not claiming injustice. He is seeking His rights. He is not crying, ‘victim’. He is at peace, bringing peace even when war rages against Him.
We connect with Him in prayer, especially the kind of prayer that casts the burdens of our soul upon Him.
Phil 4:6-7 (MSG) Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. Its wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
When stress morphs into panic, our ‘fuse’ shortens. Anxiety drains patience from our soul. We cease coping. When the nagging hag of anxiety swamps our thoughts, our potential to solve problems dumbs down. Stress is a mind freezer and a talent crusher.
3. Guilty Mind
A guilty conscience destroys peace in our mind. Un-forgiveness opens up our heart to hatred and then torment. Unresolved sin within us eats away at our soul. Anxiety and worry white ant our peace and confidence. There has to come a day when we decide to repent from sin, receive forgiveness, forgive others, let go of grudges and believe God.
We cannot be peacemakers if we are not peaceful ourselves. If we are angry, anxious or trying to live with a guilty conscience we will not be successful in bringing peace into anyone’s life.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
When Jesus sent out the disciples, He told them what not to do as much as what to do. The issue is not so much focusing on the right things but rather not becoming distracted by the wrong things. There are a thousand and one things we can give ourselves to, but there is only going to be one thing above all others we must devote our highest attention to. We cannot do everything. We are not called to do everything. We should not attempt to do everything. Be strong enough to prohibit yourself from doing those things that waste your time, your energy and your money.
One of my favourite illustrations of Jesus bringing peace to a troubled heart is in Luke 10:40-41:
But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve along? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”
In her worrying and preparation for Jesus, Martha became overwhelmed and missed His arrival completely. Instead of rebuking Mary, he commends her, saying he refuses to stop her from worshipping. Rather, Martha is corrected, but not condemned. Jesus goes to the root of her troubled attitude. Anxiety. He basically says “You don’t have to do anything to impress me, or gain approval. I already am impressed. I already am proud of you. I already have accepted and approved you. Rest in that. Work from that rest.”
See you in church!