“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. 2 Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. 4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
As we continue to look at “Cultivating Christ Like Character” Galatians 5:22 reveals the third virtue of the fruit of the Spirit, Peace. Peace is something we all want but few of us seem to have. Unfortunately today many Christians instead of living in, and living out God’s provision of peace, live in the problems and live out the panic. Peace is one of God’s greatest gifts that not only blesses our lives but also benefits those we pass it onto. Sadly many of us have a perverted view of God, seeing Him as a punisher instead of as a provider of peace. We don’t embrace His peace because we expect punishment. But God promises peace to His people not punishment. It is here in Philippians 4 that we discover three aspects to God’s peace:
Peace with God – This is the vertical dimension. In Romans 5:1 it says: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our sin separates us from God, but the Saviors sacrifice puts us at peace with God. This what I call a saving peace. So, let me ask you do you have peace with God? Has there been a point in your life when you not only admitted that you were a sinner, but accepted Christ as the only Savior for your sin? The second aspect to God’s peace is the:
Peace of God – This takes place internally. Philippians 4:6-7 say: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is a securing peace that calms both our hearts and our heads in challenging times. It’s a peace that transcends not only our understanding but our troubles. The third peace is:
Peace with others – when we have peace with God and we experience the peace of God, we can then extend peace horizontally. Matthew 5:9 says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” Jesus didn’t call us to be “peacekeepers,” but “peacemakers.” Fear tends to bring friction and create factions between people, but peace provides a platform to confront conflict. So that instead of competing we start complementing. We are called to be peace workers not war workers. This is a serving peace, that desires to help not to hinder and hurt. Christians should be known as people of peace who don’t just live in God’s provision of peace but live out His peace by passing it on to others. It’s here in Philippians 4 that we see two women at war with one another. It’s not that they don’t want peace, we all want peace; the problem is that we want peace on OUR terms which instead of leading to peace usually leads to problems and conflict. So how do we have peace with people? It’s here in Philippians 4 that Paul reveals God’s prescription for peace, and he starts first by reminding us of our peace with God as he reminds these women of their:
- Position in Christ
In verse 2 we read Paul pleading with these women to pursue peace based on their relationship with the Redeemer, “Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” As Colossians 1:20 states: “through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” It is at the cross alone that the gospel of peace is discovered. Today we spend millions of hours and billions of dollars in bookstores, courtrooms and counseling offices searching for ways to resolve conflict and attain a measure of peace. But how much of our time and treasure do we wasted on worthless places looking for peace? In our pursuit for peace why do we constantly pass over the only place where real peace presides, the cross of Calvary? Colossians 1:20 reminds us that reconciliation is a result of Christ shedding His blood to buy us back from bondage. He purchased our peace at the cross. Have you knelt at the foot of the cross before Christ, have you admitted your sin before the sinless Savior? Do you believe that the blood of Jesus that has the power to purify you from sin? Do you believe that on the cross Christ conquered sin and defeated death? Have you confessed Christ as your only Savior from sin? It’s at the cross that we discover peace with God and His gift of grace that gives us the power to make peace with others. Because Jesus has freed us from the penalty of sin we can break free from those sinful attitudes and the habits we harbor that foster conflict and pollute peace. Are you pursuing God’s peace, are you making it your priority and passion? What places are you look to for peace? Are you stuck sifting through the millions of supposed solutions or are you secure because at the cross of Calvary you found the Savior?