The world is full of problems, reasons to be worried and anxious…if one’s hopes are based on temporal things. So are our individual lives. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have many things in their life that they could worry about if they so desire. But I also don’t know of anyone who doesn’t claim to want peace in their life. Is it possible to have a lasting, settled peace in such a world as we are living in today? It is not only possible, it is expected of the true believer! In fact, to have anything less than the peace of God ruling in our hearts is evidence of a faulty faith, to say the least.
God’s instructions regarding obtaining His peace as given to us through the apostle Paul are very clear:
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I will begin at the end of this wonderful promise, then comment briefly on each item underlined. But while I will be brief, I would encourage you to mediate fully on each point.
IF we will DO the commandment(s) given in this short passage, that is, IF we will OBEY our Lord’s gracious words, our heavenly Father who cannot lie promises us that His peace WILL rule in our heart and mind. In other words, we will not walk in fear of the “next shoe dropping,” nor spend our time fretting about “What’s next,” nor lamenting "Woe is me." If you sincerely desire God’s blessing, and sincerely desire to honor Him in your life, DO NOT take anything away from this simple, sure promise. To do so is an act of unbelief, sin. God cannot bless sin.
The Greek from which this is translated means to “make known.” Trials reveal things. In the case of the believer who sincerely wishes to honor God and, thereby, enjoy His rich blessing, what is to be made known or revealed to men is a gentle spirit, indicative of true faith and trust in God’s sovereign rule over all things, and to God requests (not complaints) that are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. The use of this word makes plain that we are given both the privilege and the responsibility to approach God in a spirit of humble dependence and faith, trust in His love, wisdom and grace.
“The Lord is near”
The believer’s life, his desires, his plans are to be motivated, tempered and subjected to the reality of this “blessed hope.” Christ is to rule over our life. God’s will is to dictate our choices. God priorities are to be our priorities. Someday soon we will be standing before Him to give an account for whether or not this was, in fact, in evidence in our life. In other words, our perspective is to be eternal, not temporal, our desires are to be spiritual, not carnal, and our concerns are to be for His glory, not our comfort.
There isn’t anything that should create anxiety in us IF we are walking in fellowship with the Lord. There is nothing too hard for God. There is nothing over which He does not rule. There is nothing that can take place without His sovereignty allowing it. If we are His, and we truly believe that He has committed Himself to making everything work together for our good, i.e., for the fulfillment of His perfect purpose in our life, what is there to worry about? Fretting, anxiety is rooted in unbelief and disobedience. It is evidence of our lack of trust in the Lord’s wisdom and grace, a reticence to accept and rejoice in His rule over our life (and He is ruling in all things at all times). Shameful.
Here is a “good news…bad news” exhortation. Good news: God is interested in everything that concerns us. His desire is to bless us as such blessing glorifies Him. Bad news: we are not always truly interested in God reigning over all things in our life, especially if it means we will not get everything we want in the form we want it to be. For the peace of God rule in our mind and heart, then, requires us to die to our own selfish desires and our often perverted view of life, and submit absolutely to His will. We must both desire and allow Him to rule over all things in our life.
But here’s the real key. If we cannot be truly thankful at all times and in all circumstances, we will never be at peace. God is not mocked. He knows our true heart. Mere words do not impress Him. If we cannot be thankful for “where” we are today, what we have today (even troubles), we need not solicit His help for tomorrow, for we are “saying” that we are not pleased with His ways in our life. Such self righteousness will receive only His displeasure. Only if we can truly be thankful for all He has done and is doing in our life can we expect His peace and blessing to rule in our life. A constantly troubled, fretful, fearful mind is evidence of an unthankful heart. God will not, cannot bless unthankfulness.
The peace of God is not a peace of circumstance. It is the peace of assurance that God is faithful. His promises anchor of our soul when our circumstances would otherwise shake us. It is obtained only through faith. It is sustained only through trust. Its fruit is godly contentment.
“made known to God”
People, at least people who love us and the Lord, and, consequently, want only His best for us, don’t want to hear our problems...if all they ever hear are our problems! To be sure, those who love us will willingly bear our right burdens with us. But if what “constantly” comes off our lips are complaints about our problems, our circumstances, etc., instead of sincere thanksgiving and praise for the love of our Lord and acknowledgements of His goodness and grace, we can expect diminishing empathy, fellowship and peace with those who desire the Lord to be highly honored and His boundless grace exalted.
Warning - There is a group of people who want to hear our problems, but for the wrong reasons. They want to “share” on a human level, give their opinion, be “sounding boards” for us. They want to hear “everything.” Unfortunately, all too often this humanistic approach to dealing with “problems” produces harmful talebearing, if not open, destructive gossiping. Any relationship that has as its primary foundation the sharing of your (and others’) problems is an unholy relationship which will only produce more problems (for you and for others).
On the other hand, we can make “all” our requests known to God. For if our request is misdirected He will make that known to us and, if we are willing, turn us so that we can see our true need and approach Him in an acceptable manner. And if our request is “very personal,” very confidential, He will understand, keep our confidence, and deal with us gently. And if our request seems “impossible,” well, nothing is impossible with God, is it.
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