Think about it this way – which would you prefer, a beach and sun vacation in the Caribbean with a family member you are quarreling with, or a happy, peaceful home in the dead of a Wisconsin winter?
I know – you would prefer a peaceful Caribbean vacation…and so would I, but that wasn’t an option. No, no, peace of heart is a glorious thing, unsurpassed by…well, I can’t think of anything.
There is a reason that the writer of Proverbs said, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh…” Proverbs 14:30 (ESV)
Quarreling with family members is one of the things that destroys this peace, but I’m actually thinking about something else that forces us live with a troubled mind – guilt, and all that goes along with it.
“Should I have done that?” “I wish I hadn’t said that.” “Oh, if only I could take that back.” “Have I done enough?” “Should I do more?” A mind filled with these kinds of regrets and questions is a mind filled with pain, sometimes lower level pain, and sometimes more significant inner conflict, but however you slice it – pain.
The law does this to us. It puts our minds in a vice grip and causes us to worry and wrestle, to fret and fear. At least this is what it did to the brothers and sisters in Antioch. You see, a group of Jews had come from Jerusalem to tell these new Gentile converts that they needed be circumcised in order to be saved. And of course, it wouldn’t have stopped there. They would have told these new brothers that they needed to obey the entire law if they wanted to receive the forgiveness offered in Jesus. So the leaders of the fledgling church gathered in Jerusalem for one of the most momentous meetings in the history of the world. And the end result was a letter that highlighted this lack of peace…
“…Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions…” Acts 15:24 (ESV)
That’s what the instruction to be circumcised did – it unsettled their minds – and yet there was a better way that they came to see – it was the way of justification by faith, not law, and resting totally in Christ’s work on the cross. Since Christ had fulfilled the law, they had fulfilled it “in Him”. They were “holy, without blemish and free from accusation.” (Colossians 1:22)This led to a “settled” mind, or as Paul would later put it in his letter to the church at Rome: “…peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1 (ESV)
And I’ll take that over a thousand vacations in the Caribbean any day.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 3: Acts 16