What can be done to bring real and lasting peace into our lives?
Francois Fenelon weighed in on this question when he wrote:
"Real peace in this life must be attained with a full view of one’s own imperfections, neither slurred over nor tolerated, but, on the contrary, condemned to the full extent. Then one bears the humiliation of one’s frailty in peace, because there is no more clinging to self. We are troubled by our own faults more than those of other people, not because they are our own, but because it is our duty to correct, to conquer, to renounce, to humble ourselves, in order to accomplish the will of God, even through the sacrifice of ourselves. The disposition which you need to cultivate is faithful attention to the light thrown upon your imperfections.
Try not to vex yourself by forestalling the future, any more than by fretting over the past. Resign yourself to God, and do with simplicity the best you can, according to the light of the present moment."
Fenelon understood what Paul was communicating in Philippians 4:
". . . do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and earnest entreaty,
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
4 So, my brothers whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, do stand firmly in the Lord, and remember how much I love you.
Be united, be joyful, be at peace
2-3 Euodius and Syntyche I beg you by name to make up your differences as Christians should! And, my true fellow-worker help these women. They both worked hard with me for the Gospel, as did Clement and all my other fellow-workers whose names are in the book of life.
4-5 Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.
6-7 Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
8-9 Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you.
The memory of your generosity is an abiding joy to me
10-13 It has been a great joy to me that after all this time you have shown such interest in my welfare. I don’t mean that you had forgotten me, but up till now you had no opportunity of expressing your concern. Nor do I mean that I have been in actual need, for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either poverty or plenty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me.
14-17 Nevertheless I am not disparaging the way in which you were willing to share my troubles. You Philippians will remember that in the early days of the Gospel when I left Macedonia, you were the only church who shared with me the fellowship of giving and receiving. Even in Thessalonica you twice sent me help when I was in need. It isn’t the value of the gift that I am keen on, it is the reward that will come to you because of these gifts that you have made.
18-20 Now I have everything I want—in fact I am rich. Yes, I am quite content, thanks to your gifts received through Epaphroditus. Your generosity is like a lovely fragrance, a sacrifice that pleases the very heart of God. My God will supply all that you need from his glorious resources in Christ Jesus. And may glory be to our God and our Father for ever and ever, amen!
21-22 Greetings to every true Christian, from me and all the brothers here with me. All the Christians here would like to send their best wishes, particularly those who belong to the emperor’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.