The Peacemaker Monthly
Part Two – Get the Log Out of Your Eye
The Peace Instruction Manual
by Cara McLauchlan
“When we overlook the wrongs of others, we are imitating God’s extraordinary forgiveness towards us.”
– The Peacemaker, page 82
With the holiday season in full swing, there is nothing like all the relatives, shopping, stress, and activities to push us to the edge of our peaceful limits. Come winter, I start out believing this year will be different. This is the year I finally set limits on things I do not want to do, not letting relatives press my buttons or feeling guilty about pretty much everything. In short, I will make peace my guest, not guilt or stress or worry.
A Christmas gift came early this year with the discovery of a sweet little “instruction manual” in The Peacemaker on how to keep peace in your heart and mind. I have read this passage by Paul many times; I have even written it out on beautiful paper and posted it on my fridge as a reminder. I have memorized it and found myself slowly saying each word in a whisper as a way to change my heart in a stressful moment. Yet, I have never thought of it as a perfect guide to peace until it was described as such in the book.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:2-9)” (page 83-84).
In The Peacemaker, author Ken Sande dives in line by line to discuss the five steps to peace and resolving conflict found in this rich gem of scripture. You should read it. It is amazing. I will give you the snapshot version here, but the book details give a deeper satisfaction which is even better than sugar and spice Christmas cookies. Truly.
The Peace Instruction Manual
(paraphrased from The Peacemaker and Scripture – page 84)
Step One: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
Always? Really? What if I have a good reason not to—such as my relatives are mean or my Aunt Gertrude picks out a sweater that is hideous and two sizes too large? (Just kidding, that would never happen.) I know, I know, always. There is always something to be grateful for if you look for it.
Step Two: “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
This statement makes me ask myself, “Is my gentleness evident?” Do people experience that when they are with me? This is a reminder to slow way down, listen, see people, be in the moment, and let the Holy Spirit infuse me with gentleness. Only then can it be evident. It has to be at work in me first.
Step Three: “Replace anxiety with prayer.”
I want this to be my first thought when worry and doubt creep in. I get caught up in such silly things during the holidays, such as whether or not I am creating enough memorable moments or if the holiday meal was magical or if my gifts I have selected were from the heart. I can take all my “enoughs” and release it to Him in prayer. As my prayer offering, I can know everything is enough in Him.
Step Four: “See things as they really are.”
I call this the “don’t miss the forest for the trees” step. When I am angry at someone or something, I can get carried away with piling on negative circumstances and exaggerating criticisms. In Scripture, Paul encourages us to remember the best way to overcome this is to think about Philippians 4:8 and see what is good.
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8)” (page 84).
Step Five: “Practice what you’ve learned.”
It was pretty smart of Paul not to expect only words to be enough to change hearts. He reminded us that we actually have to practice it and live it out. He says, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:9)” (page 84).
What I like best about all of this is the word “practice.” To me, practice does not mean I have to do it perfectly. I can try, mess up, and try again, but the key is practicing all that God is teaching us and we are learning.
I do not think I will ever look at this passage of scripture the same again. I love how God’s wisdom can be made fresh and new in different seasons of our lives. I pray that peace and gentleness will be the perfume of my wake in this season and beyond. I pray this for your family too. I pray this will be an amazing year in discovering more of the Lord’s truth, beauty, and goodness for all our families.
Read Along in The Peacemaker
Read Part 2 – Chapter 4 (page 75-99)
- When do you find it hard to rejoice in the Lord? How do you handle it?
- When you think of the word “gentleness” what comes to mind?
- How is your gentleness made evident in your faith walk?
- When you feel anxious about life, what do you do?
- When do you think it is best to overlook someone’s wrongful behavior?
- When do you think it is best to address someone’s wrongful behavior directly?
- When you feel angry about someone’s actions towards you, how do you handle it?
- Have you ever thought about your faith journey as “practice”? What helps you to remember to put into practice what you are learning?
- What has helped you find peace during stressful seasons and situations?
- How will you draw closer to the Lord this year?