How You Can Experience Divine Peace More Fully
“O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”—ISAIAH 48:18.
1. What is needed if we are to experience peace as fully as we might?
THOSE who share regularly in congregational study of the Bible with the help of this magazine recognize the value of the peace that God gives, and they want that peace. The majority undoubtedly do enjoy it. But not all experience it as fully as they might. Why is this? Regarding those who would have divine peace, Jehovah says: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
2. (a) What is implied in the expression “pay attention”? (b) To how many of God’s commandments must we pay attention? (1 John 5:3)
2 Obviously, anyone can benefit from attending meetings where we discuss the Bible. But only those who pay attention to Jehovah’s commandments, making personal application of them and conforming to them, truly enjoy divine peace. Are there areas in which you need to do this more fully? (2 Peter 1:2) It is not enough for us to heed a few of God’s requirements but then sidestep those that we find inconvenient or more difficult. When the Devil tried to entice Jesus Christ over to his selfish way of thinking, Jesus firmly responded: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’”—Matthew 4:4.
3. What aspects of our lives must be brought into harmony with Jehovah’s ways if we truly are to have abundant peace?
3 God’s commandments touch every aspect of our lives. First of all, they involve our relationship with Jehovah. Then they affect our viewpoint toward his visible organization and the Christian ministry, the way we treat family members, and our dealings with people of the world. Those who earnestly pay attention to Jehovah’s commandments in all these matters are the ones blessed with abundant peace. Let us consider a few things that can help us to experience that personally.
Do Any of These Matters Need Your Attention?
4. (a) Why does having a home Bible study or going to the Kingdom Hall not guarantee that we are at peace with God? (b) What is included in exercising faith in Jesus Christ? (John 3:36)
4 Have you recently begun studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses? Or have you perhaps been associating with the local congregation for a number of months or even years? If so, you have undoubtedly found joy in having a knowledge of God’s purposes open up before you. But the fact that a person enjoys a home Bible study or finds pleasure in going to the Kingdom Hall does not prove that he is at peace with God. We were all born in sin, and peace with God is possible for us only through Jesus Christ. (Isaiah 53:5; Acts 10:36) A mere passive belief in Jesus does not bring that peace. It is necessary to appreciate personally our need of the ransom, to exercise faith in the value of Jesus’ sacrifice, and then to give evidence of that faith by obeying his commandments. (James 2:26) One of the commands that Jesus gave while on earth was that those who would become his disciples should be baptized in water. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Have you been immersed in symbol of your dedication to Jehovah through Jesus Christ?
5. Why are dedication and baptism important to our being at peace with God?
5 Is there anything in your life that disqualifies you for baptism? If you know that there is, or if during the course of your study you learn that this is the case, do not delay to set matters straight. Realize that any attitude or conduct that would disqualify a person for baptism is also an obstacle to his being at peace with God. Act with urgency while there is still the opportunity. As indicated at 1 Peter 3:21, those who are granted a good conscience by Jehovah God first dedicate themselves to him on the basis of faith in the sacrifice of Christ, get baptized in symbol of that dedication, and do God’s will. Then the peace that goes with a good conscience because of having an approved standing before God becomes theirs; it is possible in no other way. Of course, it is only a beginning.
6. Why does our attitude toward congregation meetings have a bearing on our enjoyment of peace?
6 Next, consider your regularity in attending congregation meetings and your participation in them as you are able. Do these meetings have a place in your life that you do not allow to be infringed on by the world or by other personal activities? Do you prepare for the meetings and count it a privilege to participate? These things, too, have a definite bearing on one’s enjoyment of peace. Why? Because God’s spirit is with his congregated people, and peace is a fruit of that spirit. (Galatians 5:22) It is at these meetings that we are helped to understand Jehovah’s requirements, and we need this in order to do what is pleasing in his eyes. Here, too, we learn how to promote peace in our relations with fellow humans—in the congregation, at home, at school, and at our secular work. Our meetings are one of the principal ways in which we are taught by Jehovah, and as the Scriptures point out, it is those who are taught by Jehovah that enjoy abundant peace.—Isaiah 54:13.
7. What follow-through on the things discussed at our meetings is needed?
7 A closely related point that deserves attention is the progressive application in our personal lives of what we learn. We do not want to be like those Israelites who Jehovah said would ‘hear again and again but not understand.’ (Isaiah 6:9) Moreover, do we want to be like those whom Jehovah described to Ezekiel—people who would listen to Jehovah’s prophet but not do what he said because they chose to fulfill their unclean or materialistic desires? (Ezekiel 33:31, 32) In contrast, those who would gather at Jehovah’s house in our day and would gain his approval are described as saying: “Let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Micah 4:2) If we truly take to heart the instruction that we receive at our meetings, if at each meeting we isolate at least one point that we personally need and then work on it, we are going to reap peaceable fruitage. As Jesus said at Luke 11:28: “Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”
8. How can sharing in the field ministry to the fullest extent that our circumstances permit benefit us personally?
8 One of the things emphasized at our meetings is the importance of sharing fully in the proclaiming of God’s Kingdom and in helping others to become disciples. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19) How prominent are these activities in your life? If we have truly paid attention to what Jehovah is saying to us through his Word and by means of his organization, we know that this is the most important work being done on earth today. (Revelation 14:6, 7) And it is a well-known fact that those who are in full-time service—as well as those who, though they cannot be pioneers, are truly zealous in the ministry—are the ones among us who are outstandingly happy. The peace they enjoy is not like a mere drop of water, but as Jehovah said, it becomes “just like a river.” (Isaiah 48:18) Is that what you are experiencing? All of us can.
9. What can help us to maintain our God-given peace even when we experience very severe difficulties?
9 Our heeding all this counsel, however, does not make us immune to the pressures of life in the present system of things. But regardless of how difficult situations may be, God assures us of his loving help if we will turn to him. (1 Peter 5:6, 7) Have we learned to seek Jehovah’s help and direction in everything we do, freely turning to him in prayer and, after we have done what we can about difficult situations, throwing our burdens on Jehovah, confidently leaving them with him? (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Psalm 55:22) Warmly we are encouraged at Philippians 4:6, 7: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” What a marvelous provision that is! Have you learned to benefit fully from the peace of God that is thus made possible?
Continually Pursue Peace
10. After seeking peace, what is needed on our part?
10 Once we have such peace, we cannot afford to be careless about it. Diligent effort is required in order to maintain it. Thus 1 Peter 3:10, 11 says: “He that would love life and see good days, . . . let him seek peace and pursue it.” Having sought a goal and attained it, a person would be foolish to treat that goal lightly. After seeking and attaining peace, we need to be on guard against things that could disrupt it. More than that, we should actively pursue those things that contribute to peace.
11. (a) What attitude might endanger our relationship with Jehovah? (b) When should we really be asking for God’s help with regard to temptations? (Matthew 6:13)
11 If we have attained to peace with God through the means that he has provided, we need to be careful not to disrupt that relationship by returning to a practice of sin. Of course, since all of us are imperfect, all of us sin. But there is danger when a person justifies in himself attitudes and actions that God condemns. We cannot afford simply to shrug our shoulders and say, “That’s just the way I am.” (Romans 6:16, 17) We need to repent of wrongdoing instead of justifying it, and then we ought to beg God to forgive us on the basis of our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice. We also need to learn to turn to God for help before we do wrong, instead of trying to fight the battle alone, finally giving in, and then begging for forgiveness. With God’s help, we can succeed in putting on “the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Ephesians 4:20-24.
12. (a) To enjoy peace, what other relationships need attention? (b) What is required of us in this regard?
12 Enjoyment of peace, of course, also involves relationships with other people. True Christians serve God as part of an organization; they are an “association of brothers.” (1 Peter 2:17) As Jesus said would be true of his followers, they are outstanding in their love for one another. (John 13:35) But none of them are perfect. Because of our own imperfections and those of others, we may need to pray earnestly about certain situations and work hard to resolve problems. Hebrews 12:14 urges us: “Pursue peace with all people.” And in our relations with our Christian brothers and sisters, there is a special obligation to persevere in pursuing peace. Pointedly, 1 Thessalonians 5:13 says: “Be peaceable with one another.” That means not merely to refrain from retaliating but to be active peace promoters, taking the first step to restore peace and being willing to yield in the interest of peace.—Ephesians 4:1-3.
13. (a) In promoting peace with unbelievers, what might we do, but how do we demonstrate that peace with God comes first? (b) How is it possible for us to have peace when there is turmoil around us?
13 Outside the congregation, however, not everyone is willing to be peaceable. So, realistically, Romans 12:18 counsels: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.” But our efforts to promote peace do not include compromising with regard to Jehovah’s righteous requirements. We may adjust the times for doing certain things, but we know that it would be unwise to quit attending congregation meetings or to refrain from sharing in the field ministry in order to maintain peace with marriage mates or relatives. And we know that Jehovah would not approve our joining in ungodly practices with workmates or schoolmates in order to have their approval. We recognize that real peace belongs only to those who first of all enjoy peace with God, to those who love Jehovah’s law and walk in his ways. It is that peace that we prize above all else. (Psalm 119:165) True, around us there may be turmoil. Unbelievers may argue and fight with one another; they may even heap abuse upon us because of our faith. But we know how God’s Word has taught us to conduct ourselves. By continuing to pursue a course that is in harmony with Jehovah’s righteous ways, we are not deprived of the peace that counts most.—Compare Psalm 46:1, 2.
14. Even though we personally experience tribulation, what makes it possible for us to continue to maintain inner calm and a bright outlook?
14 On the final night before his death, Jesus told his faithful apostles: “I have said these things to you that by means of me you may have peace. In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) Yes, we do experience tribulation. As Christians, we undergo persecution of various sorts. We may experience injustice, and many suffer severe illness. But divine peace sustains us through all of this. Because we have been taught by Jehovah, we know why Christians are persecuted. We are in no doubt as to why there is injustice and why we suffer illness. We also know what the future holds. We know that as a result of Jesus’ faithful life course and his sacrificial death, deliverance is a certainty. Furthermore, we know that regardless of the problems that confront us now, we can turn to God in prayer with the confidence that he lovingly cares for us and will sustain us by means of his spirit.—Romans 8:38, 39.
15. How is it true that the peace Christ makes possible is not like what the world offers?
15 Appropriately, Jesus said at John 14:27: “I leave you peace, I give you my peace. I do not give it to you the way that the world gives it. Do not let your hearts be troubled nor let them shrink for fear.” It certainly is true—the world has nothing like the peace that God gives through Jesus Christ. It enables us to be strong in the face of situations that would make others give up all hope.
16. (a) What prospect lies ahead for those who now truly treasure the peace that God gives? (b) How can we demonstrate that we do prize that peace?
16 What a marvelous future lies ahead for all who now embrace the peace that comes from God and who give it the prominence that it deserves in their lives! Soon the world that is at enmity with God will be gone. All creation will in time be fully united in peace by the righteous requirements of the Universal Sovereign. May our gratitude for this grand prospect move us to work in full harmony with it now. May all of us listen carefully to Jehovah’s instruction and get his commandments firmly implanted in our heart so that we truly love his ways and do what he requires. As Proverbs 3:1, 2 states: “My son, my law do not forget, and my commandments may your heart observe, because length of days and years of life and peace will be added to you.”
□ According to Isaiah 48:18, what is needed if we are to have abundant peace?
□ By doing what things may we experience divine peace more fully?
□ What is expected of us as to maintaining peace with our brothers and sisters?
□ How can we maintain peace even when surrounded by unbelievers?
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Regular meeting attendance
Applying what we learn
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Sharing fully in the field ministry
Throwing our burdens on Jehovah