It is hard to find peace in this chaotic world. So many things are pressing for our attention, time, and sanity. Once we have peace, we have to guard our peace at all cost. There are “Peace Robbers” out there that will steal our peace away from us if we let them.
This is a two part message. In part One; “Pursue Peace,” we found out how to get peace and now in part Two, we will see what robs our peace and how to protect it.
1. Being Busy
Being busy is the biggest tool the enemy uses to rob us of our peace. Business makes you think you are doing good. Often being busy is where you wrap your identity in. Have you ever answered someone’s question; “How are you doing?” with “Keeping busy!” It is easy to fall into the trap of business. After all, we are usually productive and have good motives. Yet, being busy keeps us distracted from the true purpose for our life. God cannot bring you to your destiny if you are too busy with insignificant things, which you have chosen, to take up your time.
Not all the business is wrong or bad. We have to decipher between the pressing and the important. There is a difference. Most of the time the “pressing” wins out. We add so many extra things on our plate that we can’t even finish eating what was there before. Have you heard the expression: “Your eyes are bigger then your stomach?” This is a statement to show you want more then you can handle. Our stomach is only so big, but our eyes see more “good things” and grab it and place it on our plates thinking we can eat it all.
“Simple active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work can actually be the counterfeit of spiritual activity.”
Utmost For His Highest
Being busy makes one look like they are accomplishing a lot, but in reality their spiritual life suffers. Even if what you are doing is for God, it is still “simple active work” compared to where your relationship is with God and cultivating that relationship. Spending time with Jesus, the Prince of Peace, allows us to be more like Him and His peace fills our hearts. It is imperative to grow in Christ. If we are too busy doing vague, thoughtless and foolish things, our relationship with God suffers.
Ephesians 5:14 – 17 (Amplified Bible)
“Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise [sensible, intelligent people]. Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”
Do you find yourself tired all the time and never seem to get enough sleep. If you have ruled out anything physically wrong with you, chances are it is because of being busy. Seriously, if you can’t “Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10),” something is very wrong in your life.
You might be afraid to be still. Maybe there are issues in your heart you are afraid to look at or address. Maybe God is pricking your heart about something and if you slow down, you will have to look at them. Ask yourself; “Am I peaceful?” In other words, if these things are robbing you of your peace, then by all means address them and deal with them and stop ignoring the Elephant in your living room! You are waisting time by running into business to escape dealing with these tuff issues. You will be free and find your peace the moment you decide to stop running and start dealing. The enemy uses this weapon agains people every second of the day. The sad thing is people think they are “okay” or “have a handle on it” when in reality they are drowning in their business that will eventually kill them. Let go of being busy and grab ahold of God’s joyful peace.
If you are afraid of all your business being taken away, and it brings pain in your heart, this is a sign your identity is wrapped up in what you do, instead of who you are in Christ. I know first hand how this feels. I always wanted to be busy in ministry. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving a church without another position lined up for me to walk in. The busier I was, the more important I was feeling. I didn’t realize I was placing what I did before my relationship with God. It became my idol. Yes, ministry became my idol. You see even the good can become bad if it is placed wrong on our priority list.
Remember that everything is the Lord’s. The earth, and all that is in it is the Lord’s (1 Corinthians 10:26). The heavens, and the earth were made by the Lord (Psalm 115:15). Who are we to get wrapped up in the things of this earth to the point it takes our peace away? It all belongs to the Lord. We are just passing through. We are renters and eventually we will be moving out and moving into our mansion in heaven when God calls us home. Hold on loosely to the things of this world.
Proverbs 11:28 (Message)
“A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.”
Being busy is a peace robber. Recognize it and make some changes in your life to let go of the things that really don’t matter, and to hold on to the truly important. Your family, friends, and even yourself, will be happy you did. Don’t settle for the “good” when you can have the best! It’s okay to say; “no” to protect your peace.
Proverbs 16:3 (Message)
“Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; GOD probes for what is good.”
2. Walking in the flesh
a. Emotions – Our emotions can rob us of our peace. We can get ourselves all worked up over something or someone to the point we have no peace. Constantly thinking about, or even obsessing about something is not healthy. Having healthy emotions should be our goal. Allowing God to help us manage our emotions and applying His wisdom to them, will help bring peace back in our life.
Proverbs 15:15 (Message)
“A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song.”
Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)
“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.”
Jealousy is like a cancer. Thinking, dwelling, and wanting what someone else has is a sin. It will corrupt your life and rob you of any peace. Jealousy is the opposite and an antonym of contentment. Contentment brings peace. Jealousy brings stress and strife. When someone is jealous, soon their actions will show it and others will see it. How you talk, and interact with others will be affected too. This is letting our emotions runaway with how we feel. It is walking in the flesh. I like how the Message Bible states that verse.
Proverbs 14:30 (Message)
“A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones.”
Emotions are fickle. They come and go and often we can’t rely on them. Emotions are not good or bad, they just are. That is why we need a proper perspective on them. God gave us our emotions to enjoy and experience life. Jesus showed and experienced human emotions by weeping when Lazarus died, or by getting angry when in the temple and people were using it for exchanging money and buying and selling things. So to say emotions are wrong or bad, is not truth. But to rely on and express negative emotions to the point of hurting or affecting others is a battle of self-control. It is what we do with our emotions that affect our peace.
Proverbs 14:29 (Message)
“Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.”
There are many emotions that rob us of our peace. The crime of uncontrolled anger vented towards someone or something is an instant peace robber. Believe it or not Self-pity is an emotion too and can rob us of our peace. Feeling sorry for yourself is trying to move forward by digging a whole underneath you. You will never go anywhere and end up in a big pit.
b. Constantly being negative, critical or judgmental – Being critical often is an outward manifestation of an inward lack. We are feeling bad about ourselves or have low self-esteem and hate seeing others succeeding. Being judgmental is a sin. Pride is involved with judging others. Thinking you are better or could do better then they are doing.
It might just be that you don’t like a person and are critical of them and what they do or say. This peace robber happens all the time. The more you talk about another person, the more you condemn yourself. In reality we don’t see it that way, but we live in unrest and constant turmoil and don’t know why. When we judge others it will come back on us.
Matthew 7:1 – 5 (NLT)
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Being a critical, negative, judgmental person will isolate you from others because they won’t want to be with you. They are afraid they will be the next topic of your gossip. Keep a guard on your tongue, this will keep a guard on your peace. Stop seeing the negative in life and in others. Negative people never reach their full potential. Critical people never enjoy life. Judgmental people will be judged with the same measure of judgment they give out. All of these people are robbed of their peace.
a. Expectations we put on people – Putting high expectations on others is a bondage builder. It puts people in bondage. They will never measure up to your standards and will fail in your eyes often. Yes, it is good to want the best for others, but not at the expense of someone always trying to please you. The only expectation we should have is in God and what He will do.
Psalm 62:5 (NKJV)
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
Notice this verse states; “For my expectation is from Him.” We long for God to move. We have expectancy and it actually comes from God to us. He wants us to put our expectations in Him alone.
Psalm 145:15 (Message)
“All eyes are on you, expectant; you give them their meals on time.”
Are your expectations on God or man? When high expectations are placed on people and they are not met, stress comes to all parties, including ourselves. We can expect our friends, or our spouse, or our family to meet our needs. When they don’t, we get frustrated with them. It is not their job to meet our needs. Let people be themselves. God is the one who is more then enough for what we need.
Let go of high expectations you place on others so they can have peace and you can too.
b. Expectations we put on ourselves – This is not easy to stop doing. We all expect more out of ourselves then we do others, especially if we are perfectionists. A perfectionist always feels they are never good enough, or that they never measure up. Their self-esteem is very low and they always feel there is something wrong with them. How do I know this? Because I have walked in those shoes a good portion of my life.
A perfectionist seldom has peace. Why would they after placing too high of expectations on themselves. They make goals and once they obtain them, they either feel it wasn’t done right, or they could have done a better job. Often times they reach a goal and never enjoy the reward because they placed higher expectations on themselves. Higher and higher the measuring rod goes for them to reach and they never really reach it because they push it higher. Give yourself a break. No one can live like that. Not only is there no peace in their lives, but no peace in their family, work, and anything they are connected with.
Let go of to high expectations on yourself. Allow God’s peace to flood your heart that you are acceptable just the way you are. It is okay to be yourself and being yourself brings peace and freedom.
4. Unhealthy Relationships
If you fight low self-esteem, being a perfectionist, or feelings of inadequacy, chances are you pick unhealthy relationships with people that are not good for you. If it is not wrong people, then your relationships are extremely tense because of putting too high of expectations or expecting others to fulfill your needs. Co-dependency or emotional dependency comes when you are looking to others to meet your needs in stead of God. We can even be co-dependent on our friends or spouse. If you are placing people higher then God and your relationship with Him, chances are you are emotionally or co-dependent on them. This subject could stand alone in a book, but we don’t have time here. Mainly, I wanted to get your attention that unhealthy relationships can rob us of our peace, our time, our relationship with Christ, and so much more.
Hanging around the wrong crowd automatically puts you in unhealthy relationships. Their morals and standards might not be Biblical. They might not have any morals at all. We become who we hang around, so choose your friends wisely. Don’t allow your peace to be stolen by making a bad choice in a relationship. Ask God if you are questioning if you have unhealthy relationships, He will show you.
a. Fear of the unknown – Always worrying about tomorrow, or what is going to happen will put you in bondage and take away your peace. Remember the Prince of Peace holds your tomorrows. He knows what tomorrow will bring so it makes sense to rely on God every day. The good thing is that if you are a believer, we can rejoice that God is by our side. He is the One who fights our battles when we lean on Him. Remember that God loves you unconditionally. His love is perfect.
Perfect love cast out all fear, and this is the love God has for you.
1 John 4:18 (GW)
“No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.”
If you live your life in fear of the unknown you will never have peace in your life.
b. Fear of man – Always fearing what people think or what they are going to do is bondage. It prevents you from being free to live your life. You will never please everybody. I have come to this harsh reality. For years I tried to make people happy. I was a Worship Pastor for many years and tried to do the songs or hymns everybody wanted, but I still heard complaints. I finally got to the point I would pick songs that the Holy Spirit told me to bring into the congregation. Then, when someone had an issue with a song, I just told them to take it up with the Holy Spirit. Soon, people stopped gripping about what kind of worship I would lead.
I also was afraid of what people thought of me. I could never be “myself” thinking people wouldn’t like me. But trying to be someone I wasn’t put me in turmoil. Christ died for our freedom, this includes being free to be ourselves. There will always be people who will disagree with you and think bad thoughts about you. Like me, you need to get over yourself and over this issue. It will rob you of your peace and put you in a trap your entire life. Then you will look back on your life and wished you lived differently. Now is the time to recognize you have the fear of man and what they think, and to release it to God and allow Him to heal you of any insecurities and events in your past, so you can truly live your life to the fullest being free to be yourself.
c. Fear of failure – Always being afraid of making a mistake is torment. No one is perfect, even a perfectionist. Failure is only failure if you stop and give up. How many Inventors, Scientists, Entertainers, Public Figures, and more, who kept going even after failing time after time, till one day they found the answer? There are many. Don’t give up, you could be one step from your breakthrough. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just get back up and dust yourself off, and try again.
There is a story about a man who was walking across the street and tripped and fell down. The next day one of his friends walked by and saw him. They asked, “Are you okay?” He said, “I tripped and fell down yesterday.” His friend asked, “Are you hurt?” “Do you have any broken bones or internal injuries that prevents you from getting up?” The man said, “No.” “You don’t understand, I fell down and I can’t get up.”
This would never happen in real life. If you tripped and fell on the ground, you would quickly get back up and look back to see what made you trip and fall. Far too often people fail and think they can’t go on. Even before they attempt to do something new, they give up because they don’t want to fail. They are afraid they will look bad in front of people. This will rob you of your daily peace. “If only’s,” and “should of’s” will haunt you for the rest of your life. Let’s be a people who are not afraid to try something new. The worse thing that can happen is it didn’t work for that attempt. Tomorrow is a new day, and with God on your side, all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26 (ESV)
“But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
6. Self acceptance
a. How do you see yourself? – I have notice often that most people really don’t like themselves. If we don’t get along with ourselves, we won’t get along with other people. When we reject ourselves, it may seem to us that others reject us as well. Relationships are a large part of our lives. How we feel about ourselves is a determining factor in our success in life and in relationships.
Our self-image is the inner picture we carry of ourselves. If what we see is not healthy and does not line up with Scripture, we will suffer from fear, insecurity and various types of misconceptions about ourselves.
People who are insecure about themselves suffer in their mind and emotions, as well as in their social and spiritual lives. I know as I have talked to many and have seen what their insecurities have done in their life. Also, I know as I myself have suffered in this area. Studying the Word of God and receiving His unconditional love and acceptance will bring healing to our life.
b. God approves of you – God never intended for us to feel bad about ourselves. He wants us to know ourselves well and have self-acceptance. God approves of you, shouldn’t you approve of yourself?
Jeremiah 1:5 (Amplified)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew and approved of you [as My chosen instrument]…”
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”
What do you think about yourself? Where ever you go, there you are. You can leave the presence of friends, family, co-workers, but you can never leave yourself. When you go to bed, there you are with yourself. When you wake up in the morning, guess who is right there? You are! Do you like yourself? Start today accepting yourself. You cannot get away from who you are. If you struggle in liking yourself, ask God for help, after all He created you.
“And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, and a sixth day.”
Rejecting ourselves does not change us, it actually multiplies our problems. Acceptance causes us to face reality and then begin to deal with it. We cannot deal with anything as long as we are refusing to accept it or denying its reality.
Webster’s II New College Dictionary defines accept in part as: 1. To receive (something offered), esp. willingly. 2. To admit to a group or place. 3. a. To consider as usual, proper, or right. b. To consider as true.
Notice from this definition that acceptance involves the will. If we apply this definition to self-acceptance, we see that we can choose or not choose to accept our self. God is offering us the opportunity to accept our self as we are, but we have a free will and can refuse to do so if we so choose. We also see from this definition that when something is accepted, it is viewed as usual, proper or right.
People who reject themselves do so because they cannot see themselves as proper or right. They only see their flaws and weaknesses, not their beauty and strength. This is an unbalanced attitude, one that was probably instilled by authority figures in the past who majored on what was weak and wrong rather than on what was strong and right.
The word acceptance from the same dictionary is defined in part as “approval” and “agreement.” If we are having problems accepting ourselves as we are, we need to get into agreement with God that what He created is good – and that includes us.
“Do two walk together except they make an appointment and have agreed?
To walk with God, we must agree with God. He says He loves us and accepts us; therefore, if we agree with Him, we can no longer hate and reject ourselves. Self-Acceptance will bring peace, self-rejection will rob your peace from you.
7. Not giving God Control
Many people struggle with this issue. They fight over having control of their life. Trying to make things happen or not happen in their own strength, and then get frustrated when things don’t go the way they want them too.
Not giving God control is a peace robber. If you have asked Jesus in your heart as Lord and Savior, that means you have made Him Lord of your life. Being Lord, means He has full reign in all areas.
Written from my journal July 12th, 2012: “There is a place in my love walk with God, a deep desire to please Him in every area of my life. I have to be pro-active and guard it. This love I have for God compels me to give you control. You see everything and know all. There is nothing I can hide from you, nor do I even want to. Having an open relationship for you to show me areas I need to lay down or change is what this Christian walk is all about. Why would I ever want to hide or prevent you to have total freedom in my life? This relationship is not like any other earthly one. My relationship with You is so precious and tender and stable. The fact that you would never leave me no matter what I do is truth that this relationship transcends all other relationships. I never want to allow my flesh or self-will to hurt my relationship with you, my loving God. I want to get to the point it grieves my spirit if ever I demand my way by not giving control.”
Giving God control doesn’t mean He will change you into something you don’t want to be, or do something you don’t want to do. Giving God control is saying, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Self-will is a peace robber when it comes to giving God control. It is not worth the struggle. To be truthful, the moment you give God control, you will find peace. You will say to yourself, “Why didn’t I do that a long time ago?”
Guarding your peace at all cost is vital to your Christian walk, and a healthy lifestyle. Don’t allow these “Peace Robbers” to take away your peace. Be vigilant. Be alert! Be pro-active in who you are. Yielding to God’s correction and love is the only way for a peaceful life.
From one Peace Keeper to another,
Pastor Kris Belfils