“The Peace of God that excels all thought”

Part 2

Philippians 4:7

In our 1st piece we discussed the following points:

  • What is Peace?
  • What kind of Peace do we really need?
  • What is needed for True Peace?.
  • The One True Source of Peace.
  • Build up our trust in the One True Source.
  • Build a relationship with our Father.
  • Obedience to the commandments of God and Jesus brings Peace.

We will go on to complete this topic by evaluating the following points:

God’s Spirit helps us develop Peace

Should we yield to the leadings of the Holy Spirit to help us develop peace? Perhaps the initial reaction may be ‘Of course’. Romans 8:6 speaks about “the minding of the spirit means life and peace” which is something done by positive choice and desire. The Google dictionary definition of yield is “give way to arguments, demands, or pressure”.

So we need to ask some questions:

  • Would the Holy Spirit argue with us?
  • Would the Holy Spirit demand that we allow it to help us?
  • Would the Holy Spirit pressure us against our will to act in a way of peace?

The scriptures show absolutely no indication of this. Indeed resisting the Holy Spirit is associated with opposers of God and Jesus as Acts 7:51 shows. There we find Stephen giving his speech before the Sanhedrin. He said “Obstinate men and uncircumcised in hearts and ears, YOU are always resisting the holy spirit; as YOUR forefathers did, so YOU do.”  We should not have to yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Rather we should be desirous of and willing to accept its leadings. We certainly would not want to be found resisters like the Pharisees, would we?

Indeed rather than yielding to the Holy Spirit we would want to consciously seek it by praying to our Father for it to be given us, as Matthew 7:11 makes clear when it says “Therefore, if YOU, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to YOUR children, how much more so will YOUR Father who is in the heavens give good things to those asking him?” This scripture makes it clear that as the Holy Spirit is a good gift, when we ask for it from our Father he would not withhold it from anyone of us who are asking in sincerity and with the desire to please him.

We also need to be living our lives in harmony with his will, which includes due honour to Jesus Christ. If we do not give due honour to Jesus then how can we be in union with Jesus and benefit from what Romans 8:1-2 brings to our attention. It says “Therefore those in union with Christ Jesus have no condemnation. For the law of that spirit which gives life in union with Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” It is such a wonderful freedom to be set free from the knowledge that as imperfect humans we are condemned to die with no redemption possible, because now the opposite is true, life through redemption is possible. It is a freedom and peace of mind not to be spurned. Rather we should cultivate and build up our confidence in the hope that through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus we will be able to have peace in everlasting life and Jesus will use the Holy Spirit to make that possible for us providing we remain in union with Jesus commandments to love one another.

What is another way in which God’s spirit can help us find peace? We are helped to develop peace by reading God’s inspired Word regularly. (Psalm 1:2-3).  Psalms indicates that as we take delight in the law of Jehovah, and read his law [his Word] in an undertone day and night then we become like a tree planted by streams of water, giving fruit in due season. This verse conjures up a peaceful, tranquil scene in our minds even as we read it and meditate on it.

Can the Holy Spirit help us to understand Jehovah’s thinking on many matters and thereby gain peace of mind? Not according to 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 “For ‘who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?’ But we do have the mind of Christ.”

How can we as mere insignificant humans comprehend the mind of God? Especially when he says “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than YOUR ways, and my thoughts than YOUR thoughts.” ? (Isaiah 55:8-9). Rather God’s spirit helps the spiritual man to understand God’s things, his word and his purposes. (Psalm 119:129-130) Such a person will have the mind of Christ, by desiring to do God’s will and helping others to do the same.

Through God’s spirit as we study his word we also come to know God is a God of Peace. That indeed he desires peace for us all. We know from personal experience that peace is what we all desire and makes us happy. He likewise wants us to be happy and at peace as Psalm 35:27 which says “Let Jehovah be magnified, who takes delight in the peace of his servant” and in Isaiah 9:6-7 says in part in the prophecy about Jesus as the Messiah that God would send that the Messiah would be called “Prince of Peace.  To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end”.

Finding peace is also linked to the fruits of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in our introduction. Not only is it named as such, but developing the other fruits is vital. Here is just a brief summary of how practicing other fruits contributes to peace.

  • Love:
    • If we do not have love for others we will have difficulty in obtaining a conscience that is at peace, and that it is the quality that manifests itself in so many ways that affect peace.
    • A lack of love would lead to us being a clashing cymbal according to 1 Corinthians 13:1. Literal Cymbals disturb the peace with a harsh jarring penetrating sound. A figurative cymbal would do the same with our actions not matching our words as a professed Christian.
  • Joy:
    • A lack of joy would lead us to be troubled mentally in our outlook. We would not be able to be at peace in our minds. Romans 14:17 links righteousness, joy and peace together with the Holy Spirit.
  • Long-suffering:
    • If we are unable to be long suffering we will always be getting upset at our own and others imperfections. (Ephesians 4:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) As a result we will be agitated and unhappy and not at peace with ourselves and others.
  • Kindness:
    • Kindness is a quality that God and Jesus desire to see in us. Being kind to others brings God’s favour which in turn gives us peace of mind. Micah 6:8 reminds us it is one of the few things God is asking back from us.
  • Goodness:
    • Goodness brings personal satisfaction and hence some peace of mind to those practising it. Even as Hebrews 13:16 says “Moreover, do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” If we please God we will have peace of mind and he will surely desire to bring peace to us.
  • Faith:
    • Faith gives peace of mind as “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) It gives us confidence that prophecies will be fulfilled in the future. The past record of the Bible gives us reassurance and hence peace.
  • Mildness:
    • Mildness is the key to bringing about peace in a heated situation, where the air is filled with emotion. As Proverbs 15:1 advises us “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.”
  • Self-Control:
    • Self-control will help us avoid stopping stressful situations get out of hand. A lack of self-control leads to anger, indiscretion, and immorality among other things, all of which destroy not only ones own peace but that of others. Psalm 37:8 warns us “Let anger alone and leave rage; Do not show yourself heated up only to do evil.”

From the above we can see God’s Holy Spirit can help us to develop peace. However, there are occasions when our peace is disturbed by events outside our control. How can we deal with this at that time and find relief and peace when we are distressed?

Finding Peace when we are distressed

Being imperfect and living in an imperfect world there are times when we may temporarily lose the measure of peace we may have gained by applying what we have learned.

If this is the situation what can we do?

Looking at the context of our theme scripture what was the Apostle Paul’s reassurance?  “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God;” (Philippians 4:6)

The phrase “do not be anxious over anything” carries the meaning of not being distracted or worried. Supplication is to display a heartfelt, urgent and personal need, but despite having such a need we are gently reminded to be appreciative of God’s kindness that he bestows upon us (grace). (Thanksgiving). This verse makes it clear that everything that worries us or takes away our peace can be communicated in every detail with God. We would also need to keep on letting God know of our heartfelt urgent need.

We could liken it to visiting a caring doctor, he will listen patiently while we described the problem(s), the more detail the better to help him better diagnose the cause of the problem and be better able to prescribe the right treatment. Not only is there truth in the saying a problem shared is a problem halved, but we would be better able to receive the correct treatment for our problem from the doctor. The doctor’s treatment in this instance is that recorded in the following verse, Philippians 4:7 which encourages by saying: “the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”

The Greek work translated “excels” literally means to “have beyond, be superior, excel, surpass”. So it is a peace that surpasses all thought or understanding that will stand guard around our hearts and our mental powers (our minds). Numerous Brothers and Sisters can testify that after intense prayer in emotionally difficult circumstances, they received a feeling of peace and calmness that was so different to any self-induced feelings of calm that the only source of this peace truly had to be the Holy Spirit. It is most certainly a peace that surpasses all other and can only come from God via his Holy Spirit.

Having established how God and Jesus can give us peace we need to look beyond ourselves and examine how we can give others peace. In Romans 12:18 we are exhorted to be “If possible, as far as it depends upon YOU, be peaceable with all men.” So how can we be peaceable with all men, by pursuing peace with others?

Pursue peace with others

Where do we spend the majority of our waking hours?

  • In the family,
  • in the workplace, and
  • with our fellow Christians,

however, we should not forget others such as neighbours, fellow travellers and so forth.

In all of these areas we need to strive to get the balance between achieving peace and not compromising Bible principles. Let us therefore now examine these areas to see how we can pursue peace by being peaceable with others. As we do so we need to bear in mind that there are limits to what we can do. In many situations we may have to leave some of the responsibility in the other person’s hands once we have done all we can do to contribute to peace with them.

Being peaceable in the family, workplace, and with our fellow Christians and others

While the letter of Ephesians was written to the Ephesian congregation the principles mentioned in chapter 4 apply in each of these areas. Let’s just highlight a few.

  • Put up with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
    • The first is verse 2 where we are encouraged to be “with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love”. (Ephesians 4:2) Having these fine qualities and attitudes will reduce any friction and potential for friction between us and our family members, with the brothers and sisters and with our workmates and clients.
  • Having self-control at all times. (Ephesians 4:26)
    • We may be provoked but we need to apply self-control, not allowing any anger or wrath even if one feels it is justified, otherwise this could lead to retaliation. Rather being peaceable will lead to peace. “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with YOU in a provoked state” (Ephesians 4:26)
  • Do unto others as you would be done by. (Ephesians 4:32) (Matthew 7:12)
    • “But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another, just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.”
    • Let us always treat our family, workmates, fellow Christians and indeed all others the way we would want to be treated.
    • If they do something for us, thank them.
    • If they do some work for us at our request when they are working secularly then we should pay them the going rate, not expecting it for free. If they waive payment or give a discount because they can afford to, then be thankful, but do not expect it.
    • Zechariah 7:10 warns “defraud no widow or fatherless boy, no alien resident or afflicted one, and scheme out nothing bad against one another in YOUR hearts.’” Therefore when making commercial agreements with anyone, but especially our fellow Christians we should make them in writing and sign them, not to hide behind, but to make things clearer as a record as imperfect memories forget or only hear want the person wants to hear.
  • Speak to them as you would like to be spoken too. (Ephesians 4:29,31)
    • Let a rotten saying not proceed out of YOUR mouth” (Ephesians 4:29). This will avoid upset and keep peace between us and others. Ephesians 4:31 continues this theme saying “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from YOU along with all badness.” If someone screams abusively at us, the last thing we feel is peaceable, so likewise we risk disrupting peaceful relations with others if we act like this towards them.
  • Be prepared to work hard (Ephesians 4:28)
    • We should not be expecting others to do things for us. “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28) Taking advantage of others generosity or kindness, especially on a continual basis without regard for their circumstances is not conducive to peace. Rather, working hard and seeing the results give us contentment and peace of mind that we are doing all we can.
    • Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith …” (1 Timothy 5:8) Not providing for one’s family will only sow discord rather than peace amongst family members. On the other hand if the family members feel well cared for then they will not only be peaceable to us but will have peace themselves.
  • Be honest with all. (Ephesians 4:25)
    • “Wherefore, now that YOU have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of YOU with his neighbor”. (Ephesians 4:25) Dishonesty, even about small upsetting things will make the upset and damage to peace worse when discovered rather than upfront honesty. Honesty is not only the best policy it should be the only policy for true Christians. (Hebrews 13:18) Do we not feel peaceful and unafraid when we can trust people to be honest, perhaps in our home when we are away, or lending something to a dear friend to help them out with something, knowing their promises are genuine?
  • Only make promises you can keep. (Ephesians 4:25)
    • Peace will also be assisted when we “Just let YOUR word Yes mean Yes, YOUR No, No; for what is in excess of these is from the wicked one.” (Matthew 5:37)

How will True Peace Come?

At the beginning of our article under the heading ‘What is needed for True Peace?’ We identified that we need intervention by God and some other things that are needed for true peace to be enjoyed.

The book of Revelation gives prophecies yet to be fulfilled which assist us to understand how this will come about. Also Jesus gave a foretaste of how Peace would be brought to the earth by his miracles while here on earth.

Freedom from weather extremes

  • Jesus showed he has the power to control weather extremes. Matthew 8:26-27 records “getting up, he rebuked the winds and the sea, and a great calm set in. So the men became amazed and said: ‘What sort of person is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” When he comes in Kingdom power he will be able to extend this control worldwide eliminating natural disasters. No more fear of being crushed in an earthquake for example, thereby having peace of mind.

Freedom from fear of death due to violence and wars, physical assault.

  • Behind the physical assaults, wars and violence is Satan the Devil. With his influence at liberty there can never be true peace. So Revelation 20:1-3 foretold a time when there will be “an angel coming down out of heaven … And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, … and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore …”

Freedom from mental anguish due to death of loved ones

  • Under this government God “will wipe out every tear from their [peoples] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor paid be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Finally a new world government will be put in place which will rule in righteousness as Revelation 20:6 reminds us. “Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; …. they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.

The results if we seek peace

The results of seeking peace are many, both now and in the future, both to us and those we have contact with.

However we do need to make every effort to apply the Apostle Peter’s words from 2 Peter 3:14 which says “Hence, beloved ones, since YOU are awaiting these things, do YOUR utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace”. If we do this then we are surely much more encouraged by Jesus words in Matthew 5:9 where he said “Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’”.

What a privilege indeed is available to those that “turn away from what is bad, and do what is good” and “seek peace and pursue it”. “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous ones and his ears are toward their supplication” (1 Peter 3:11-12).

While we await the time for the Prince of Peace to bring that peace to the whole earth let us “Greet one another with a kiss of love. May all of you who are in union with Christ have peace” (1 Peter 5:14) and “may the Lord of peace himself give you peace constantly in every way. The Lord be with all of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Tadua