Peace & Rest, Faith & Works

I have a standing appointment every single day. During the week, it happens right after work. I come home, I feed my dog, I do any dishes that need to be done, then my standing appointment comes.

It’s 30 minutes of uninterrupted time as I take my dog Lottie for a walk. Some days I spend the 25-30 minutes just listening to music and walking to whatever beat is coming through my earphones. Other days, I spend time thinking and praying. The last couple of weeks have been filled with a need for peace. And something that has brought me comfort is I know a lot of people who are in the same boat.

Yesterday evening as I walked around my apartment complex, I enjoyed the gray and somewhat puffy clouds in the sky. The way the sun was coming through the atmosphere and the light was hitting the clouds was created a warm glow. Rend Collective was being piped into my ears. At one point I looked up and noticed the sunset. I can’t say I notice many sunsets these days (sad) so when this one caught my eye I spent the rest of my walk gazing up at it every few seconds. Creation sings praises to the Creator–that was the only thought in my head for a while. My God made that sunset, and He made me. And knowing me, He used that sunset to bring peace in my heart for just a few minutes. Peace–because it’s high in demand and far too many feel it’s in short supply.

I think something every person is after at one point or another is peace. The gift of peace when your circumstances are out of control is so valuable. When I receive it in a time of need I treat it like fine gold, it is precious. Sometimes it comes in a moment of darkness and I have to hold onto it for dear life, and enjoy it, because soon life’s struggles will come rushing in once again, pushing every ounce of peace back out. And still other times, I think we long for rest, a somewhat deeper peace where we don’t have to worry about anything. But biblically speaking, peace and rest are different. In Hebrews 4 we are told that rest is coming in eternity; it is not attainable on earth. However, peace is. Just this week alone I have found and relied on multiple verses to cling to when my peace is in such agonizingly short supply.

Here are just a few of them:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” —John 14:27

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:6-7

“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” —1 Corinthians 14:33

“Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” —James 3:17

“The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” —Isaiah 32:17

If Jesus Himself told the disciples in the gospel of John that He would leave His peace for them, obviously peace is something we can attain here on earth as we wait for eternal rest. God Himself is peace, and He freely gives it to us when we need it. And peace is a characteristic of a believer as we know from Galatians 5:22-23 and Ephesians 6:14-15. It is meant to mark us as His children.

So what does that mean? What should our lives look like in any situation we encounter? Do we have to work for peace? Or have works to have peace?

Here is the answer: You do not need works to have peace. Period. Simple as that.

Peace—like His grace, like His salvation, like His love—is a gift. It cannot be worked for, it cannot be earned. If it could be found apart from the gift God offers, people would be running around like crazy trying to find it. And the fact that it is offered by God, a perfect God and a loving God, means there is absolutely nothing that can be done to dole out the worthiness that would compel Him to give it. A perfect gift offered by a perfect God can never be earned. And the more it is worked for, the farther away it gets, and the more you will ultimately need it. It is going to be an exhausting life trying to earn what has already been given.

Now the application. If I, a child of the King, have been given the peace of God and I trust in Him, how am I supposed to set myself apart? mark myself with peace? make my works reflect the peace I have? Because something important to remember is that peace is not because of my works, rather it fits with my works. And James tells all believers that faith without works is dead, which simply means that the outward expression of our faith should be a result of what’s always being transformed inwardly. So what am I to do?

Seeing as I get the most fulfillment from the people in my life, this means I must maintain peace in my relationships. I want my life to be reflective of peace. When my people are around me, I do not want them to feel any ill will, any hostility, any harm. No turmoil. I want them to feel like they have been listened to, and like they may have problems but they are not the problem. And I want them to understand when I pray for them I only pray for the most abundant blessings for them. I want them to have an amazing life as they pursue Jesus with everything they have.

That means offering prayers for the people in my life regardless of what they have done or how they have lived their lives. It means loving them with my words and actions, working my hardest to give them a safe place where they can be themselves, giving them a listening ear, offering a hug, praying diligently for them. And when the occasion calls for it, being a silent friend in the midst of their turmoil, simply being a presence to remind them they are not alone.

I’m sure I fail every single day at maintaining peace. But part of the peace God has given me includes the strength to get back up off the floor and keep trying. Do not underestimate how much God loves you and how He so desires to bless you with an abundance of peace, and eventually your eternal rest will come. And please remember that although your life should be marked by peace (part of the outward works you do to show your inward faith) the peace that is offered is not because of your works. It is a gift. Accept it.

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