The peace of God comes to you in three ways. (1) God gives it to you. (2) You have to think about the right things to have God’s peace. (3) God’s peace will either be helped or hindered by those closest to you.
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Ultimately, God is the provider of peace. All good gifts come from the Lord. If you experience peace, the Lord is the giver of it. But God did not create robots. He is a relational being who wants you to engage Him and others in a relational way. You are called to work out what the Lord is working in you (Philippians 2:12-13) because your faith is alive, which is perceived by your works (James 2:17).
The Implication Is Clear: the Lord gives peace, but it can be helped or hindered by how you interact with others, especially those close to you. Paul powerfully makes this point in his letter to the Philippians.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9
I’m sure you know this passage well, but I wonder if you have connected the two verses the way Paul did. He is wrapping up a little talk on peace in verse nine when he tells the Philippians how they live before others is not insulated from others.
- In verse eight Paul is talking to the individual about how he needs to think right to have peace.
- In verse nine Paul changes direction by talking about how someone can help or hinder peace in others.
His boldness in verse nine is unnerving, as well as convicting. If you take up his challenge by practically applying what he said in verse nine, it will be transforming to you and your friends.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9
Did you see that? Did you hear what he said? He gave the Philippians a fourfold promise that appealed to them to imitate his life into their lives. His fourfold promise says,
- If you practice what you’ve learned from me
- If you practice what you’ve received from me
- If you practice what you’ve heard from me
- If you practice what you’ve seen in me
Paul’s redundancy was his way to make sure the Philippians did not miss his point: if you carefully scrutinize and imitate my life, you will have peace. Are you ready to say what Paul said? Do you want to live a healthy Christian life?
Call to Action
With verse nine in mind, what is your responsibility in exporting peace to others? What if you went to your spouse, child, or friend and asked them to imitate your life so the God of peace would be with them? Maybe you could say it this way:
Hey (pick any person), I want you to studiously practice all you learn, receive, hear, and see in me. And if you practice those things, here is my promise to you: the God of peace will be with you.
- Would you be willing to have that conversation with your spouse, child, or close friend?
- If you are a child, who is a Christian, would you have that conversation with your parents or siblings?
- What if you and your friends discussed this in your small group?
- Are you an exporter of peace to others? Do others feel at ease around you?
Jesus, as always, is our great example. He exported peace. After spending time with Him, you wanted to relax. He put you at ease because shalom is what characterized His heart. He had the peace of God that came out of Him, and it affected others. You cannot export what you do not have (Luke 6:45).
Perhaps you live in a chaotic home, or you have a turbulent marriage. Do you have the peace of God that Paul talked about in verse eight? Maybe that is where you should start; you need to be thinking about the right things. If you don’t have it, you can’t export it. All Christians are in the import/export business.
- The peace of God is imported to you (verse 8) as you take your thoughts captive.
- The peace of God is exported to others (verse 9) as your life affects others.
What effect does your life have on others? Are you humble enough to ask those closest to you? Most people’s first tendency is to look outward to blame others for what is wrong in the relationship. There is a time for that, but Jesus would ask you to look at yourself first (Matthew 7:3-5).
- Do you have God’s peace?
- Are you exporting God’s peace to others?
- Do people experience the peace of God after spending time with you?