If a Christian from our time was transported to the First Century, how would he or she find other Christians. They would have no Internet, no pamphlets, no phone books. Would they be able to simply notice the individuals who had calmness of spirit, purpose in life, joy, and love for others. If they could find these qualities in someone then or now, chances are good they would find one who knows Christ. Do our lives reflect these qualities for others to see?
Romans 14 addresses how Christians handle personal convictions that are not addressed by scripture. In verse 16, Paul warns against letting our good works being seen negatively due to our emphasis on the physical over the spiritual. Anxiety, doubt, and guilt can crowd out the joy and peace of spirit we can have in Jesus. They hinder our ability to share Christ with those around us.
Peace of Spirit
Our Lord understands this struggle between peace and anxiety. Much of the Sermon on the Mount deals with this conflict. Matthew 6 repeatedly addresses the problem of anxiety over food, clothes, lifespans, and other everyday problems. Matthew 13:22, amidst the parable of the sower, acknowledges the draining power the cares of this world can have over our spiritual peace.
Luke 10:38 records Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha, and verse 40 records Martha as being distracted by her work. She is anxious and troubled about many things, but Jesus says Mary has chosen better things to worry about. Martha is drawn in multiple directions – just as we are. We worry about the economy. We worry about politics. We worry about our health. We worry about the speed of service at a restaurant. When these cares distract us from giving our best and having lives filled with peace and joy, there is a problem. The solution is in finding balance.
Balancing Our Lives
If I am to allow others to see Christ in me through my conduct, I have to find balance. Philippians 4:6 admonishes us to be anxious for nothing, rather turning to God for all things. We achieve peace in our lives when we learn to turn things over to God. Likewise, I Peter 5:6-7 encourages us to cast our anxiety on God in humility, allowing Him to lift us up. There are some things I can do, but there are other things only God can do. If we are to have peace, we have to let God do what He can.
Like there are things we cannot do, there are things we cannot know. We have doubts and worries, but John assures us throughout his first epistle that we can eliminate doubt about our spiritual state. I John 2:3-6, 3:19, 4:13, 5:13 – these verses and more assure us we can know our relationship with the Father. We can feel assured in our salvation and lose the doubt that plagues our lives.
Anxiety and doubt, however, may have a common foundation in guilt. Perhaps we have sought out God’s forgiveness, but we have not yet forgiven ourselves. In Jeremiah 31, the prophets speaks of a new covenant between God and His people, and verses 33-34 say a cornerstone of this covenant is forgiveness. God says He will forgive and forget. Isaiah 55:6 invites God’s people to call upon God in repentance for forgiveness. Thinking of the sinfulness the people of ancient Israel had descended, we ask, “How could God forgive them?” The answer is in verses 8-9: His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. He can forgive what we view as unforgivable.
We carry around too much guilt, anxiety, and doubt, making it impossible for anyone to discern us from those lost in worldliness. Galatians 5:22-23 reminds us what it means to walk spiritually. This is who we are to be if Christ is in our lives. Romans 15:13 encourages us to abound in the hope of our Father, a hope in which we can be assured and confidant. Philippians 3:1 and 4:4 remind us we can rejoice in our God. Finally Hebrews 12:2 calls on us to look to Jesus as our example, enduring trial after trial while remember in the joy waiting ahead.
Others should see Jesus in our conduct. We should be joyful based on the confidence we have in our relationship with our Savior. Do we have that joy? Do we have that peace? We can lay our doubts and fears aside, and we can walk in the spirit every day of our lives.
lesson by Tim Smelser