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Peace Dwelling in our Hearts

December 5th, 2018

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Col. 3:15)

We have so many more reasons to be grateful than complaining. Yet we are so quick to remember all of the undeserved injustices that have come our way, and so slow to consider the many more undeserved blessings that Christ has bestowed on us by His grace.

If we receive negative things that we do not deserve – and I suppose that there is not a man or a woman on earth who does not – let us be even quicker to remember that grace also is undeserved, unearned, and unmerited. And grace “superabounds” (Rom. 5:20) over not only our own sin but also over the sins of others directed toward us. If we have suffered unjustly, we should also rejoice even more enthusiastically in the undeserved favor that God has given us in Christ.

The peace of Christ is to “rule” in our hearts, and this original word, brabeuo, means “to arbitrate.” It was used in secular Greek for someone who sat down with opposing parties and helped to resolve their differences. Its direct meaning in Colossians 3 is to arbitrate or help establish peace and forgiveness between the members and families in the body of Christ. That Christ has forgiven us means that we should forgive one another as well.

Yet it intrigues me that this can also be applied to our hearts and our own thoughts toward all others and toward our own selves as well. We should think and  consider what the reality of God’s grace really means – we should reason it out. This thought is foreshadowed in the words of God to Israel, “Come let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). In Isaiah 65 we read of the promise of a blessed future for Israel, and surely this is God’s intention toward all believers:

For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create… (Isaiah 85:17-18 ESV)

In heaven we will not be “licking our wounds” and recounting our troubles while on earth, rather we will be rejoicing in the grace of God. His grace and undeserved blessings are endlessly more profound things to think about than the bad things that have happened to us here.

Yesterday I wrote about the depth of meaning in the Hebrew word shalom that far surpasses the meaning of the English word “peace.” It means God’s favor, His provision, His rule, and His goodness, as well as His peace. And Paul, in Colossians, followed up on this statement of the peace of Christ dwelling within us and between us, by saying that we should let the Word of God also dwell richly in us (Col. 3:16). Where there is knowledge of the promises of God and of the future blessings He will lavish on the redeemed, there is great peace and assurance.

And isn’t it also what the Spirit would have us to do, to pray for and to aid in the healing of those whose hearts we have wounded? If we have received injustices from others, have we not also at some time in some way dealt unjustly with them? Of course, we may be quick to excuse ourselves by saying that we were just frustrated and simply transferred our hurt and anger on them. But that is also what happened when others mistreated us, that they were merely acting out their own frustrations.

In seminary I had a professor who called negative and condemning sermons “kick the dog” sermons. The preacher angrily rebuked the adults, who, out of guilt and anger, came home and scolded their children, and down it went until the youngest in the family out of anger kicked the family dog. Of course, no one ever thinks to apologize to the dog, least of all the preacher who started it all going that way.

So should we not also think about what influence we have on those around us? Do we start the ball rolling toward anger and incrimination? Or do we start it in the direction of grace and healing? There are times, of course, when rebukes are proper and necessary, and if done with grace they can be considerably powerful. Yet I believe that a gracious Christian smile and a kind word have more power to change people, and thereby the whole world, than the strongest righteous indignation.

Let the peace we have received through Christ with God, and the peace we receive in Christ within ourselves, constantly arbitrate all that life hands us. Let us rejoice more intensely and more often in the undeserved favor we have received in Christ by God’s grace, than we do in the undeserved negative things we receive from others. And let us share His love with one another. Someone is looking at your life today, and wouldn’t you like to know that they will thank God that you crossed their path, rather than curse their luck?

Bless others out of the undeserved favor that God has bestowed on you in Christ. There is always enough grace to share with others.

 

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