Things That Make for Peace
By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministries
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9
Hello Northpoint Family,
We’re familiar with the so-called shortest verse in the Bible, and we know that Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus, even though He would soon raise Him from the grave. In Christ, we rejoice in the hope that one day, those who hope in Christ will also rise.
But Jesus came to conquer sin as well as death. Sin and its destruction also broke Jesus’ heart and caused Him to weep. On His final approach to Jerusalem before the crucifixion, Jesus paused amid the crowds cheering Him, and looked up at the so-called “Holy City.” The sight brought tears to His eyes.
His “triumphal entry” was devoid of genuine worship from His people. Their cheers of “Hosanna” would soon turn to cries to “crucify, crucify Him!” His response to the sight of His city was pointed and chilling. “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). Their Messiah had come, and they weren’t ready to receive Him (John 1:11). Really, they wanted nothing to do with Him.
Since Jesus is God, He looks on the heart, not on the outward appearance. He knew what was inside their adoration. It wasn’t a passion for God’s kingdom and righteousness, but something else. Something that had nothing to do with holiness or “the things that make for peace—peace with God or with man. Little did the lauding crowd know they were on the eve of destruction. “For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:43-44).
What we delight in—what occupies our time and attention—reveals what matters to us most, and there’s more to being a Christian than merely professing—or even praising—Jesus. Our appetites need to be trained, and our desires weaned from earthly to heavenly things. The great temptation for the people of God has always been to use Him for our own purposes and co-opt the gifts of heaven for our earthly pleasures.
And since we live all our lives on earth and breathe in its air every day, the things of earth dominate our intake. Just going about the business of living becomes a primary preoccupation that determines everything we take in. Then there’s downtime, relaxing, and fitting into our surroundings and the people in them, and filling our minds with whatever the world puts out there.
What we take in, influences us, and the things of earth naturally displace the things that make for peace—the things that draw us close to God and prepare us for when He comes. To shape the hearts of the Philippian believers, Paul refocused their attention. He directed them away from temporal distractions and onto things of eternal worth. He urged them to give careful, reasoned attention to “whatever is” …
• honorable: deserving respect, pleasing to God
• true: honest and reliable, enabling us to reject what’s false, deceptive, and uncertain
• just: conforming to God’s values and perfect standards
• pure: wholesome, spiritually healthy, with no trace of moral impurity
• lovely: promoting peace and harmony with others, dispelling conflict
• commendable: well spoken of, positive and constructive, not negative and destructive
• excellent and worthy of praise: anything worth focusing our minds on
As we turn from earthly things and “think about these things,” in loving anticipation of Christ’s return, we learn to “practice these things”—the things that make for peace. That’s how the hope of Jesus’ return changes us, purifies us, and prepares us to meet Him, as we live to the praise of His glory.
Northpoint Prayer Ministries