Throughout the last three years with my Bible study girls (BSGs) I noticed what we all struggle with the most — control. Or on the flipside, lack of trust. The results of that need to control typically lead to lack of peace. We humans like to manage situations and people without first consulting the “man upstairs.” The inevitable results create frustration, hurt feelings, anger and more.
Instead, we turn to the desires of the flesh listed just above the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy.
We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
You may look around your own Bible study groups, church friends or even just the “good” people you know and think, “Nah, we never do any of that horrible stuff!” You might recall, however, at the beginning of this study on love that Jesus considers gossiping or defaming someone “murder.” Yikes!
We take our newly signed peace treaty with God and consider it a license to do what our flesh desires. Maybe thinking He won’t notice. We turn from the peace table, walk out the door and get angry at the first person who doesn’t do what we think they should. We fantasize of a spouse who would love us so much better, we drink away our anxieties, hold onto our bank accounts for fear of the poorhouse, speak of “Karma” when hurt by others, become jealous of our non-Christian neighbors with the fancy new car, or just turn away from others who need a bit of kindness.
Friend, God has implanted in each and every one of us the knowledge of His existence. Somehow, we all know what His desires are for our behavior, for our hearts.
"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:21
We know, through the Holy Spirit what is right and wrong in God’s view. When we actively or even passively work against this you know what the inevitable result is? Lack of peacefulness. That niggling in your heart and mind is God’s way of reminding you of the path toward peace. And yet we so often ignore it. We’ve been rejecting the Prince of Peace and His path since He walked on this Earth.
“On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they (the Pharisees) were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” Luke 13: 44-46
How incredibly sad is this point in scripture? The Pharisees and Sadducees were spoon-fed by Jesus, Himself, the truth. The glory of the heavens was opened to them. The bountiful, beautiful life was placed on a platter before them and they rejected it out of jealousy. Out of fleshly desires. Do we want to be listed among them? I pray your answer is no.
I heard a podcast recently by John Ortberg on taking a hold of the beautiful life God wants for us. He spoke of not just cutting out actions and thoughts from our lives but more importantly replacing them with a positive action and thought. The Bible speaks of cleaning house but not leaving it empty for the thief to come and take up residence. Therefore, if we want not just the glorious peace with God but God’s gift of peacefulness, we need to replace our desires of the flesh with His goodness. With the blossoms of love and joy. With trust that our God does in fact know what He is doing. He is greater than us in every aspect and will provide.
Through prayer, obedience and knowledge of His Word we can, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, rest in His peace. Ask Him today to shine a light on the areas that are creating deadly weeds in our hearts. The Great Gardner will create a beautiful peacefulness in you that you never could’ve imagined!
Coming Up: Resting In Peace