Colossians 3:12-17 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Ask yourself a question…no comparing yourself to others, no hiding behind the “well, I’m doing better than Bill at church” or “I know I am ahead of Sandra in my sanctification” excuse…is your life substantively, clearly, fundamentally, different than those of the world? Can you honestly say you know a peace they do not know? Does the question bother you greatly?
It is an honest question, and it is one I ask myself. I read these texts and I am reminded over and over again of how easy it is to slip into a worldly mindset, a worldly pattern of behavior. Oh, surely, from an external perspective I look different than most, but I know my mind, I know my heart. Do I worry? Am I truly content? Do I experience a supernatural, “this can’t be explained by natural causes” kind of peace, deep, soul-grounding, spirit-lifting, impervious to the world’s sharpest attacks? These questions force me to the every-day question, “To what do I expose my mind, willingly? Am I dwelling upon God’s Word, abiding in Christ, taking delight in His law?” Do I experience conviction when I read Psalm 119? Do I walk as the Psalmist here?
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
I want the peace of God that passes all understanding. But how much do I want it? Do I want it enough to be disciplined, to pursue it? I pursue many things in life. I am putting out a tremendous amount of physical energy pursuing an exercise challenge right now. Soon I will do my annual triple-trek up South Mountain, riding 44 miles and climbing 4400 feet in “celebration” of turning 44. Talk about pursuing something with all your capacity, the final push up the steepest portion of the climb at the top the third time up will require every ounce of my bodily power. But, can I look at myself and say, “I expend that kind of energy in the pursuit of godliness, the pursuit of holiness, the pursuit of the peace of God”?
For most of us, this is a season of giving to others and experiencing the truth of Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Yet we will be receiving as well, and we may well have answered the question, “What do you wish this year?” Where does the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension stand on your wish list? I would like to invest some portion of our considerations here on this vital topic, for it has wide ramifications, positively and negatively. Positively, so many of us are missing out on the truly spiritual life, settling for the crumbs of the world. Negatively, these texts contain commands, and woe be to us when we choose to neglect God’s commandments for our lives.
My brother or sister in Christ, to what will you expose your mind this day? Will you purposefully dwell upon that which is not good, honest, just, pure, or lovely? Will you take the heart which was redeemed with such a great price and place it firmly in the control of the world, thinking upon that which is sexually immoral, violent, gruesome, ungodly, impure, ugly, or hateful? Will your tongue and your thoughts reflect this inner reality? Do you laugh when someone reminds you of the need of purity? The believer who is at home with the world in these areas simply cannot possess the peace of God in Christ, for these things are at war with what it means to be in this world, but not of it. Let’s consider these texts and make sure our lives are in line with our profession of faith. A person who can dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s in theology but is not living in light of those truths is, of course, a hypocrite, and God has given us clear evidence of what He thinks about that (Matthew 23).