The Genesis of Peace
Charles Naylor, 1941
This world is full of unrest and turmoil. There is turmoil in hearts and homes, in communities, churches and nations. There is international turmoil, until the world is a seething mass of unrest. People are longing for peace, but peace can begin only when the turmoil in the world is removed, and it is removed only by the eradication of its cause. Unrest, wherever found, indicates irritation. Unrest is a fever. It is a symptom that something is not going right somewhere.
When there is not peace in the heart, it is because two forces are striving against each other. When the forces of nature are at rest—then everything is quiet and peaceful. But when the strong wind rages across the face of the sea—then the wild waves toss and roar. When it wrestles with the mighty forces—then they sway and creak and strain. So it is in the human heart, in the family, the community, the church, the nation, and between the nations. Where there is not peace, it is because there is irritation, and the only way to bring peace is to remove the source of irritation.
If we do not have peace with God, it is because there is something causing irritation in the heart.
One thing that causes irritation and destroys peace, is SIN. We never can have peace with God, with sin in the heart. The soul can never be at rest with that quiet peaceable rest, while indulging in sin of any sort or while sin that has been indulged in is unrepented of. But there is a remedy for sin. That remedy is available today. So, reader, if your heart is not at peace with God because of sin, you may get that source of irritation out of your heart by confessing it and taking God's way out. Do this at once—then his peace will fill your soul.
Another source of irritation in the soul is UNBELIEF. It is destructive of peace; so if we will have peace with God, calmness and rest in our souls—we may find it if we will believe in God. There is a sweet rest of soul that comes from trusting God—a peace that may be known in no other way than by trusting. The doubts and fears that irritate and trouble, that destroy the peace and bring heaviness, discouragement, and sometimes almost despair—will vanish when belief comes into the heart; and peace like the calm after a great storm will settle down over the soul. But peace cannot come so long as unbelief irritates and annoys the soul.
Another thing that prevents peace in many a soul is SELF-WILL. There is a lack of submission to God's will, and so the relation with God cannot be a relation of peace and sweet confident trust. To have peace, we must rid ourselves of self-will. We must submit ourselves to the will of God. We must say from the bottom of our heart, "Not my will, but may Your will be done." We must be willing actively to engage in doing his will. Then the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds, and we shall know the blessedness of true rest of soul.
Self-will is the cause of the lack of peace that exists in many families. This one feels he must have his way; that one feels she must have her way; and so there is a clashing of wills that brings irritation, unrest, dissatisfaction, and results in ill feeling, resentment and bitterness.
Self-will brings unhappiness wherever it operates. Self-will is selfish; it is inconsiderate of others; it asserts its own right, to the exclusion of the rights of others. It will have its way, but when it has its way, it brings sorrow and unrest. Peace flies away from self-will. Peace cannot abide in the same heart or in the same home, with this destroyer of happiness.
Self-will in the church is the cause of more trouble than any other one thing. That disposition to demand that things go the way we think they ought to go, and the setting up of our will above the will of others, the winning of our way—may give us temporary pleasure of a certain sort. It may give us a selfish satisfaction that comes from having our own way—but it will destroy the peace of the church and the peace of our own hearts.
Submitting our will, is the hardest thing we have to do, but it is the thing we must do before we can have true peace. Self-will is based on pride. Where there is contention in the family, in the community, in the church, in the nation—we can easily locate the trouble. We can easily find the root of the matter. The wise man tells us that, "Pride only breeds quarrels" (Proverbs 13:10). Here the destroyer of peace is traced back to his den. Excess of self-esteem, which is a form of pride, causes people to be self-willed, and self-will destroys peace.
The nations could be at peace, if they would justly esteem each other and each other's rights—but this they will not do. In the same manner, communities could be at peace, but pride brings contention. Homes could be at peace, churches could be at peace—if they would get rid of that pride that breeds quarrels. It is useless to deny the source of contention. People do not feel disposed to contend, unless they have pride in their hearts.
To be sure we must contend for the faith sometimes, but this is quite another thing. We may contend for the faith in a thoroughly peaceable manner—or we may do so in a self-willed contentious manner. The latter never brings peace, but only turmoil and division.
Would you have peace with God? Do you wish rest, comfort, and happiness in your soul? God is not your enemy. His thoughts toward you are thoughts of peaceableness (Jeremiah 29:11), and he tells us that the effect of righteousness, shall be peace (Isaiah 32:17). To be at peace with God is to get rid of those disturbing elements in our own hearts and minds—get rid of our sins by trusting in Christ for salvation—get rid of all unbelief by taking God at his word and trusting him sincerely—get rid of our self-will through the blood of Christ and through submitting our wills to God—then we may have peace with God and peace within ourselves. We shall have "all joy and peace in believing" (Romans 15:13).
But to keep this peace we must follow after the things that make for peace (Romans 14:19). We must "seek peace, and pursue it." We must do those things which belong to peace. We must hold that attitude that brings peace. Peace will begin and peace will abide—when those things are removed which destroy peace.