It is highly likely that I need this blog more than anyone else. Research about the positive benefits of writing to learn—of note-taking to study—reveals that our recall increases by involving not just the head but also the hands and in the learning process. And biblical devotions must also involve our hearts. However, the Lord calls us to learn together in community, not independently or by isolating ourselves. So, I write in spite of my lack of peacefulness this week, knowing that the God of peace is at work and He is not dependent upon my feelings. I am once again concerned about my knee that feels mechanical just when I am about to re-insert myself in all normal activities. Why doesn’t my joint feel more natural? Spiritually, I am asking myself and you, “Why doesn’t the peace of God, that Christ purchased for me by his grace, come to the forefront in spite of our health, financial, or family concerns? Is it wrong for our faith to sometimes feel ‘mechanical?’” There must be times when we obey and move forward in faith in God’s promises even though our present reality is not at all pleasant or spiritually miraculous. Life in Christ isn’t about good upon good upon good; it is the peace of God in the midst of a troubled, broken, twisted world. Christ reigns with his power and righteousness, “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)
I often seek God’s peace through prayer, which is fine, and especially if I verbalize this request. But then I need to be careful not to pray as a technique for obtaining God’s peace, neglecting His praise, thanksgiving, confession, and petition for others. Hopefully, the result of my prayer is a desire to find my peace in God’s glory, which takes me to particular favorite scriptures passages like Isaiah 32:17. I am inspired to be more confident in God’s remedy for my anxiety and fears knowing that Isaiah wrote this verse about Jesus and his righteousness hundreds of years before Christ’s incarnation. God, our Father, had a plan for our supernatural peace through his holiness. Being undone by God’s purity and perfection, as the prophet was, leads to great adventures with him. (See Isaiah 6:1-5.) Just as God had a plan for Isaiah, involving a lump of hot coal to his unholy lips, he had a plan for us—through Christ and the Holy Spirit, by his grace in repentance and regeneration. It is through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness that we have peace withGod, throughhim, and forhim. Christ who has taken my sins upon himself and forgiven us, and the Holy Spirit who works in us to help us stay in the will of God as we live our lives. This peace is only found through Christ; it is not available anywhere else or by any other means. But this is the work of righteousness—to draw my heart to him so effectively for my conviction that my peace is also forGod, not for myself only, but for the upbuilding of others and the glory of God in all things.
You and I know that we will never find peace by being knowledgeable about current affairs and the news, by our profits in the stock market, or by being fashionable, trendy, or technologically skilled. Unfortunately, many people, especially the young discount peace in favor of excitement, looking for the next thing that will make them happy. Trading happiness and excitement for peace means trading short-term glory and pleasure for long-term success and permanent joy. I know because I made this trade for the first thirty-three years of my life and was empty after earning two degrees, making great profits in real estate, and having had four good career positions. I was flat-out done-in by my attempts at self-fulfillment, but still seeking it through a new age seminar when Christ captured my heart with his righteousness, peace, and quietness. The four career positions that I held after my call to faith were leading me somewhere—to the mission field in Africa. “Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Psalms 37:37-38) I was cut off from God and didn’t know it until he rescued me. But in Christ, instead of looking for my own path for my own pleasure, my excitement became grounded in God’s will and pleasure for me. His peace has given me the courage to do things I could never before have imagined or desired.
Reflecting on the effectiveness of God’s peace for His glory is one way to be re-inspired and re-committed to heavenly wisdom. So we need to remind ourselves of this, as did the Christians reading James’s letter, who were being influenced by those who were causing some disorder and disunity. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17) The progression of divine wisdom’s character is that of God: pure, and from purity, peaceful, gentle, reasonable, merciful, fruitful, impartial and sincere, yielding more righteousness. This is not just a list of what we should know about wisdom but a description of the wisdom that is already implanted in us and stimulated by the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Our daily life—our choices, thoughts, attitudes, behavior, and desires today have the ability, by God’s power, to reflect these attributes. “’Peaceable’—this is authentic peace, free of quarrelsome attitude; ‘gentle’—thoughtful and respectful of other people’s feelings; ‘open to reason’—willing to listen to and obey others; ‘full of mercy’—the wise person is not stingy in mercy but demonstrates charity in broad measure; ‘good fruits’—those who partake of God’s true ‘wisdom from above’ will bear ‘good fruits’ because they have been brought forth (regenerated) as ‘firstfruits’ of the beginning new creation (1:18); and ‘impartial and sincere’—the wise person is fair and without deception, deceit, or fraud.” (1) In the words of Matthew Henry, “He who thinks well, or he who talks well, is not wise in the sense of the Scripture, if he does not live and act well…It has no disguise or deceit. It cannot fall in with those managements the world counts wise, which are crafty and guileful; but it is sincere, and open, and steady, and uniform, and consistent with itself. May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and mercy shown in all our actions, and the fruits of righteousness abounding in our lives, prove that God has bestowed upon us this excellent gift.” (2)
Are you as convinced as I am, that we already have peace, for the sake of and through God’s righteousness? Fears, anxieties, and regrets for the future, present, or past are covered by the peace of God through the righteousness of Christ. Let’s go about our business now, in peace.
(1) The Reformation Study Bible, James 3:17, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.
(2) Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, James 3:13-18, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-concise/
April 2, 2019