We live in a turbulent world. We never know what is going to happen to us next. It could be a natural disaster like a tornado or a flood, a house fire, a car accident, a sudden death in the family or a rebellious child who takes our focus away from what we would rather be doing. Somehow things never seem to go according to our plans. Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on our circumstances to find peace.
The word ‘peace’ was a common Hebrew greeting; it was said as we would say ‘good-bye’. That is why in John 14:27, Jesus emphasized the word ‘my’ when He was saying good-bye to His disciples. He was about to leave the earth and return to His Father. Rather than just saying the word ‘peace’, He said ‘my peace I give to you’. He clarified that He wasn’t giving peace the way that the world does. His peace was different, all-sufficient, ever-lasting. His peace would ease their sorrow at His departure, and bring them courage to continue without His earthly presence.
Jesus had already given the disciples an example of His peace when they were out in a boat on the stormy lake. (Luke 8:22-25) Jesus had been asleep in the boat when the storm came up, and the disciples were afraid. Jesus rebuked the storm, and then addressed the disciples, “Where is your faith?” That is the key to peace: faith. If we completely trust God to take care of us in every situation, if we believe His promises that He wants the best for us, (Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 7:11) if we know that somehow everything will work out for our good because we are called according to His purpose, (Romans 8:28) we will have peace.
Can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be if we all followed the two commandments found in Matthew 22:37-40? If everyone’s goal was to please God, and to help each other, the conflict in this world would be erased. You can be sure that Satan is doing everything within his power to keep that from happening. We are in a battle between the ways of Satan and the ways of God. No matter whose side we choose, there will be a constant struggle until Jesus returns.
Galatians 5:19-21 outlines some of the results of following our own sinful desires. Paul gives examples of sexual sins, religious sins, societal sins, and those stemming from a lack of self-control. He finishes his list by letting us know that it is not exhaustive; it includes other actions that put ourselves ahead of God and others. He warns us that by engaging in such activities we risk being consumed by one another, (Galatians 5:15) and that if this is the kind of behaviour we choose, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21) That is not to say, that if we choose to follow God, and to be led by the Holy Spirit, we will never sin, but we must not cater to our sinful nature nor let it dominate our life.
How do we prevent our sinful desires from winning out over the ways of love and freedom in God? We ask the Holy Spirit to help us. We choose every day to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. We cannot do this on our own, and God will not do it without our consent. We are not puppets. God could have taken all these desires away from us when we made the decision to follow Him. Why didn’t He? I believe it is because He always wants to allow us to have free choice, but also that He wants us to realize how much we need Him. We need to realize that we can’t make it on our own. He wants us to acknowledge Him, to remain in communion with Him, and to rely on Him to help us through every situation we face. The good news is that if we choose God’s way, the Spirit will be a continual help to us, and we will be on the winning side.