Dec. 5, 1999 Phil. 4:1-9
How can I have Peace?
If someone were to come and ask you, “WHAT IS PEACE”, how would you answer them? Peace is one of those things that everyone wants, but no one has a real clear answer of what it is or how you can get it and keep it. I like to look in the dictionary whenever I have a word that I need a clear understanding of. Webster’s dictionary has this to say about peace: it is the “freedom from or stopping of war; freedom from public disturbance or disorder; freedom from disagreement or quarrels, harmony, concord; an undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict; calm, quiet, tranquility.” Someone once said that “Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading.” [Lloyd Cory, Quote Unquote]
All the explanations of peace that I have mentioned so far and probably many of the explanations of peace that you might give talk about peace as if it is something that happens when conflict and problems are not present. I have to get rid of all those things that create anxiety in my life in order for me to have peace. I have to get rid of my husband or my kids, or my boss or my neighbors or my bills. If this is so, then you will never have peace, because as long as you are alive, you will always have conflict, and you will always have problems. I want us to see today that peace comes not by getting rid of our problems but by focussing our thoughts on what God wants us to think about. Someone else said “Peace is that calm of mind that is not ruffled by adversity, overclouded by a remorseful conscience, or disturbed by fear.” [as quoted in The tale of the Tardy Oxcart] Peace doesn’t come with the absence of the storm; it comes in the presence of the storm because Jesus is walking there beside us, and we’ve got our eyes on Him.
1. Peace comes through a mind that forgives. (vs. 2-3)
The church that Paul was writing to, the church in the city of Philippi, did not have peace. (By the way – the book of Philipians is the only book in the Bible that was written specifically to West Virginians. It was written to Philipi even though we pronounce it differently here). One of the main reasons for this lack of peace in the church was two women that were fighting with one another. There names were Euodia and Syntyche. We have no record of what they were fighting about, but whatever it was, it had separated their friendship with each other. I read this week of two unmarried sisters who lived together. Because of a slight disagreement over an insignificant issue, they stopped speaking to each other. Unable and unwilling to move out of their small house, they continued to use the same rooms, eat at the same table (separately), and sleep in the same bedroom. Without one word. A chalk line divided the sleeping area into two halves, separating a doorway and fireplace. Each could come and go, cook and eat, sew and read without crossing over into her sister’s domain. Through the night each could hear the breathing of the foe, but because neither was willing to take the first step to reconciliation and forgiveness, they coexisted for years in grinding silence. This situation was creating enough of a problem that word had gotten all the way to Paul in prison about their conflict. Paul knew that this was something that he had to deal with because he knew how destructive fights between individuals within the church can be to the life of that church.