Have you ever seen the bumper sticker “No Christ, No Peace, Know Christ, Know Peace”? I nod my head and shout “AMEN!” every time I see that graphic. To know Christ is to know Peace. God planned it from the beginning. The Bible is God’s Love Story to us about His sending the Messiah. Christ, the Prince of Peace, a ruler who died to take away our sins! As the world heads towards destruction at warp speed, Believers know Peace. He will never let us down.
The word ‘peace’ appears in the Bible over 350 times. Paul is giving worthy items for the Philippians – and us - to focus on. Paul says what we put into our mind will come out in terms of words and actions. Uh oh - yeah, that’s what he is teaching. As computer folks say “Garbage in, Garbage out”. It is true in our lives as well. That’s a scary thought, eh? What did you watch on TV last night? What was the last video you rented? What webs did you surf the last time no one was home? What conversations did you participate in during interactions with non-believers? What’s the topic of the last joke you told or laughed at? Paul teaches us to infuse our minds with excellent thoughts that are worthy of praise!
That is not an easy thing to do! Guys, try turning on TV, going to the mall, going to the lake or anywhere these days without seeing images that kick-start lustful thoughts! Guys, on average, think about sex 33 times a day. Be honest - our lustful thoughts are not always pure thoughts about our wonderful wives! Ladies, your thoughts may not be as sexual as men’s but common issues creep into the female mind: keeping up with the Jones’, pride, vanity, envy, jealousy, thoughts of gossip – that often lead to actions and words! Regardless of our gender, our minds are constantly at work. We truly will act out and say what we program ourselves for. Let us work diligently to program our thoughts to be worthy of praise just as Paul teaches.
When we read Paul’s words in the Scripture or when we hear them taught by our Pastor, the words are easy to forget. It is important for us to literally ‘practice what we hear preached’. God expects us to do more with His Word than just be familiar with it. He wants us to put it into practice and when we do, our actions lead to obedience to God’s will.
Our thoughts can become non-peaceful and our lives filled with discontent when we become preoccupied with ‘stuff’. Through the Scriptures we read that Paul knew how to be content whether he had plenty or whether he was in need. Where are you? Are you content with your car, house, clothes, “stuff”, etc.? Are you discontent because of things you want? Paul drew on Christ’s power for his strength and he was totally content. One of the things that I focus on in my prayer life is basic and simple. I ask God to give me wisdom. Wisdom, godly wisdom, brings with it contentment. As I age, I understand more and more how Paul, who at times had absolutely nothing but the clothes on his back, could be content in the Lord alone. I watch the news and see millionaires, billionaires, television and movie stars, sports stars, rock stars, etc. reveal how discontented they are; going from mate to mate, from one rehabilitation facility to another, taking up ‘causes’ to make themselves feel ‘fulfilled’, etc. It goes on and on. Contentment can only come from our Savior. Know Christ, Know Peace – regardless of the “stuff” we possess.
God will supply our needs. When we get ‘greed’ confused with ‘need’, discontentment sets in. When we constantly “need” something, there is a void in our life we are trying to fill with ‘stuff’. People walking closely with God understand that ‘stuff’ in our lives complicates our lives. The ‘Stuff’ we long for does not bring contentment. ‘Stuff’ usually brings more grass to mow (larger houses), more vehicles to maintain, more items requiring insurance, more items requiring our attention on a regular basis that take away our time doing the things we should be doing – ministry, family time, relaxation time. There is hope! When we begin to look at our life from God’s perspective, our thoughts turn to what we should be doing and away from what we want. Paul concentrated on God’s will for his life instead of ‘stuff’ and this freed Paul up to do the will of God. That’s Peace!! In the end, the person with the most toys does not win – regardless of what the bumper sticker says.