Wise Living: Peace

This morning, we’re continuing our message series on wise living where we’ll be taking the wisdom of God found in scripture and practically applying it to issues that we face every day. We’ve learned what wisdom itself is and how to receive it.

We know that wisdom is taking accurate information and applying it effectively to our lives. It’s not just knowing information, but it’s living it out.
So far, we learned how to be wise with our anger and the secret to being content in life.  This week, we’re going to take a look at peace.
Peace can potentially exist in several different areas. For example, we can have civil peace because of our laws and those who enforce them. We can have national peace because of our military and their sacrifice to maintain it. The peace that we’re going to be focusing on this morning, however, is peace with each other and within ourselves.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything, even a time for war and peace. Even though there may be seasons of conflict and war in our lives, we are called to be peacemakers and to, overall, live peaceful lives.
There is such wisdom and blessing in leading a peaceful life. It’s a life free from the snares that lie before a life filled with strife, drama, and conflict.
Listen to just a few scriptures on the subject of peace.
Jesus said:

Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Mark 9:50

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

John 14:27

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 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

And proverbs say:

Proverbs 3:1-2
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

Proverbs 12:20

Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.

Proverbs 16:7

When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Psalm 29:11

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Psalm 34:14

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Proverbs 14:30

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

So we see that we are to promote and pursue peace and that the Lord desires to give us peace. However, living a peaceful life and being a peace maker is no easy task! As long as we dwell amongst people whose opinions differ from ours, conflict is sure to be present. Not only do we have conflict amongstourselves, but also life circumstances occurunexpectedly,leaving us with conflict within ourselves. Leading a peaceful life, however, does not mean that we will not have conflict, but that rather, that we are able to appropriately handle conflict when it arises.
Proverbs 17:1

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet, than a house full of feasting, with strife.

We see conflict arising often throughout scripture. Even in the midst of the great signs and wonders and the powerful move of the Holy Spirit in the early church, there was still conflict.  Not only was there conflict between those spreading the gospel and those opposing itbut also amongst even the leaders of the church. In fact, even during Jesus’s own earthly ministry, there were often those who tried to cause conflict and problems with Him and His disciples. It seemed throughout the book of Acts that no matter where Paul and his companions traveled on their missionary journeys, that conflict followed opposing their ministry.
We all know people in our lives, and we may even be one of them, with whom drama and conflict seem to always be present with. This drama and conflict steals away from us, and those around us, the peace that the Lord desires to give us, which comes with wise living.
These might be some familiar statements and thoughts to those living in conflict and in need of peace:
* Show Video *

Where do we go from here? (last line of video)

As always, we’ll seek the wisdom of God found in His word to see how we can navigate away from a life filled with conflict and drama to one filled with His peace. Within it, we find ways for us to be peacemakers and not ones who enable drama and conflict.
Ephesians 4:2-3

2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

The statements that we commonly make in the midst of conflict, as we just watched in this video, obviously do not match the humble, gentle, patient, loving self that we’re called to completely be. In fact, these statements stand in direct opposition to these attributes. Of course, the fruits of having these statements in our hearts are obvious. Instead of bringing about peace and reconciliation, they work to puff up self-righteousness in pride and result in further conflict, strife, and division. They rob us of the peace that the Lord desires to give us and never resolve anything.
It takes two people to have and continue drama and conflict. It’s important for us to understand in these times that before the Lord, we are responsible only for our own attitudes, actions, and responses.  Regardless of the actions of the other person, are we owing a peace maker or conflict encourager? Romans 12:18 states ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’ There are going to be times when others directly oppose us and there is no way possible to be at peace with them. However, we must be very careful to ensure that we are making every effort to be at peace with others and to be sure that our actions, our hearts, and our responses are in agreement with God’s word and His heart.  Weuat be sure that we are walking in the Spirit and following His guidance and not reacting and being guided by our flesh.
After all, look at Christ’s own perfect example. He, the Prince of Peace Himself, could not keep peace with all men and women. He set the example for us, however, to be certain that we are doing the will of God and standing in His truth alone and being a peacemaker to the best of our ability. He displayed for us how to silence those who question and challenge us and not to have foolish disputes and arguments with those trying to trap us. We need to understand that now, just as it was for the early church, that those who stand opposed to the Lord will also always stand opposed to us so long as we are doing His will and His work.
Paul wrote to Timothy and called him to do this:

2 Timothy 2:22-26
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

 Although we don’t like to think it, and trust that everyone generally has good intentions in life, there are those who are held captive to do the devil’s will. The sad part is that they usually do not even know of their own captivity. However, as we are moving forward in the Lord’s work, these ones will oppose us harshly; not only from outside, but even from inside the church. We’re called, however, not to argue with them, but to be kind and to gently instruct and teach them God’s truth in the hope that they will repent and turn to the Lord finding freedom from their captivity. After all, they will be ones that certainly do not possess nor promote peace, but will be the divisive ones in need of peace the most.
I believe that along with being humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love, we find more keys to achieving peace in Romans 12. These keys found in scripture help us to overcome and remove these attitudes from our lives that steal our peace and continue conflict with others.
Romans 12:9-21

9 Love must be sincere.

It’s such a simple statement, yet a very bold and powerful one. How frequently are we hypocritical and insincere in our love for others? After all, if we sincerely loved, we would want to be at peace with others and ourselves. We would not continue foolish conflicts, but would put an end to them as far as we are able to. John brought about this revelation that really challenges us in this area.
1 John 4:20

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

So our love MUST be sincere. The greek word used here for love is agape, which is the unconditional and sacrificial type of love that God has toward us. Building up a sincere love for others is like building up our immune system against conflict. It enables us to see others from God’s perspective. When we despise someone, we’ll find ourselves in consistent conflict with them and rarely at peace with them. This also seeps into our hearts, embitters us, and steals our peace from us. Loving others, however, keeps us at peace as we quickly confess fault, seek forgiveness, and reconcile. We can only extend this type of love because God first loved us in this way; it’s not something that we can do on our own.
Romans 12 goes on in verse 9:

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

David said in Psalm 101:5

Psalm 101:5
Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
I will not tolerate.

Slander and conflict are highly contagious. If we do not hate what is evil and cling to what is good, we are likely to quickly fall into their trap. Slander and gossip are like the changing winds just before the destructive storms of conflict. We must be careful to heed their caution and steer clear of them! We can never both honor one another above ourselves and be devoted in love to another and also slander someone at the same time! When we slander someone, we place ourselves above them in a seat of self-righteous judgment. We are being disobedient to Christ when we choose to do so and have chosen evil over good.
When one begins to slander their neighbor, silence it. When one begins to speak to you slandering another, hate that evil and cling to what is good by speaking of that good to them. Speak only what builds up others and not what tears them down. See what God sees in that person being slandered and speak it out. This silences a slanderer and enables you to cling to what is good. The storms will calm and you will rest in peace. However, when we fall into the evil trap of slander or agreement with it, our peace and rest is stolen and we are forced to be on our guard at all times.

Romans 12 goes on in verse 11:
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Staying on fire for the Lord and serving Him keeps us at peace. When our spiritual fervor is intense, our love for others is an automatic response. When we are busy serving the Lord and fulfilling the great commission that He has called us to, we won’t waste any of our resources into continuing drama or conflict. When we are focused on reaching out to others, our differences fade away as we focus Christ-ward and away from one another. This common goal unites us and brings His peace amongst us just as He desires.
Romans 12 goes on in verse 12:

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
These are not easy things to do or even ones that we would naturally tend to do. However, with the empowering of the Holy Spirit, we can bless those who persecute us and overcome evil with good! We can be ones who lead peaceful lives even in the midst of hardships and persecution. Even though conflict may be raging all around us, we CAN have peace. The apostle Paul also goes on in the book of Romans stating that:
Romans 8:6

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 14:13-19

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Let’s rise up and stop quarreling over disputable matters and allowing ourselves to be a stumbling block and obstacle! Not only in being a stumbling block to others receiving Christ, but also to them and our own selves having the peace that we are called to have. Let us always walk in love and retain our peace and joy in the Holy Spirit and do what leads to peace and mutual edification. Let us seek God’s wisdom in resolving our differences with a win-win solution.
We’re also given this wisdom in scripture even to a people who were successful in loving one another, but needed further advise in gaining peace as we are seeking after this morning.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

In closing, we also see this wisdom from the Lord in receiving His peace despite our current situation in life.

 Philippians 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 This morning, do not leave with drama, conflict, or unrest in your life. I invite anyone in need of this peace that only God can offer which transcends all understanding to come down to the altar. Leave your conflicts before the Lord and let them in His able hands. Walk away this morning at complete peace and do not allow it to be stolen away for it is worth far more than winning any argument or proving yourself right before man. Allow His peace to come in and guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. And even if you are facing circumstances beyond your control, allow His peace to comfort you during this season of life as He guards and comforts you.