How can I find peace of mind?
The Bible talks about peace a lot in both the Old Testament and the New. Most often in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used for peace is shalom which denotes not only peace, but also a sense of well-being, prosperity, and wholeness. In the New Testament, the Greek word most often used for peace is eirene which also denotes prosperity and rest, but includes the idea of joining together as one. The primary need for peace in human existence is to find peace with God. Because of our sinful nature, humanity's relationship to God has been fractured. Blessedly for us, Jesus reconciled us to God "making peace by the blood of his cross" (Colossians 1:20). Paul explains that because "we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). So Jesus's sacrifice on the cross and our acceptance of it through faith restores our relationship to God and sets us at peace with Him. Only then can a believer experience God's peace "which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).
Paul calls Jesus "the Lord of peace" in 2 Thessalonians 3:16. This title fits Jesus well. Isaiah 9:6 prophetically refers to Him as "Prince of Peace." Jesus knew that His disciples would be dismayed upon His departing, so after lovingly explaining how He would send the Holy Spirit as a helper to them, He said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27). Jesus gifted peace to His followers not only while He walked the earth, but He continues to do so through the Holy Spirit even today. Peace is a natural outflow of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives; it is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23. Interestingly enough, the Holy Spirit is mentioned as a source of peace even in the Old Testament (Isaiah 32:15–18). Our triune God is a God of peace and He gifts His peace to His people.
However, there are ways the Bible encourages us to experience a greater extent of peace, or in other words, to "let the peace of Christ rule in [our] hearts" (Colossians 3:15). Psalm 119:165 provides one practice to increase our experience of peace. It says, "Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble." The word for "your law" in Hebrew in this verse is Torah, which are the first five books in our Bible and would have been the Scriptures available to the psalmist who wrote this verse. Studying Scripture brings peace to those who love God's Word. As we study His Word, we learn who God is and our trust in Him can increase. We learn that "for those who love God all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28). We hear Jesus say, "… in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Scripture is filled with reassuring verses that remind us of the truth about the God we serve.
A second way the Bible encourages us to experience more peace by increasing our trust in God is by controlling our minds. Isaiah 26:3 says, speaking of God, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Likewise, Romans 8:6 says, "… to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." Focusing our mind on God and who He is increases our trust in Him and gives us peace. We are told to "be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2). Our thought patterns need to focus on knowing the truth about how big, capable, and loving our God is.
A third way the Bible encourages us to find peace is through conversing with God in prayer. While we can "stop telling God how big our problems are and start telling our problems how big our God is," as the saying goes, we should still bring our problems to God. Paul says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving 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" (Philippians 4:6–7). Bringing our anxieties and requests to God will bring peace. However, this verse also highlights that our praying should happen "in everything" "with thanksgiving." Even in our anxieties, we are called to approach God with thanksgiving—to be on the lookout for His hand of blessing in our lives.
We serve "the Lord of peace himself [who can] give you peace at all times in every way" (2 Thessalonians 3:16). We can experience more of His peace as we pay attention to what God has done and is doing for us, as we bring our anxieties to Him in prayer, as we focus our minds on the truth of who He is, and as we love and study His Word.
What does it mean to have peace with God?
Our default human condition is to live in opposition to God. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, we are born with a sin nature that attempts to rule over us, take control of our minds, and keep us from the perfect peace that comes from God alone (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12). Our sin causes us to be at odds with God, deserving punishment (Romans 3:23; 6:23). We cannot reach a place of peace with God on our own. We need a Savior.
God desires all of us to be at peace with Him. In fact, it was His plan to create a way by which we could forever be at peace with Him—this plan was Him sending Jesus Christ, His Son, to earth. After living a perfect life, Jesus was crucified and His sacrifice made provision for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Through Jesus' sacrifice, when we put our faith in Him, our sins are wiped away in God's sight. We have peace with God when we accept His free gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. By placing our faith in Jesus and His sacrifice, our sins are forgiven and we are made pure before God (Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and it is through Him alone that we may have peace with God (Romans 5:1). The gospel message itself is called the "gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15). Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised us the Holy Spirit. John 14:27 says: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." When we are Christ followers, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who provides us with the peace of God on a daily basis (Galatians 5:22–23; Philippians 4:4–9).
When we are at peace with God, it means we are able to be in a personal relationship with Him. We are free from the power of sin when we are submitted to Him as the Lord and the source of all we need. This brings incredible peace to us in all the affairs of our life. When we make mistakes, we can bring them to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness, and finding peace anew with Him (Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 1:9). We have the confident hope of an eternity in heaven with God: "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1–2).
In what way is peace a fruit of the Holy Spirit?
The fruit of the Spirit—the effects the Holy Spirit has on the life of a believer—generally relate to our relationships with others. Among other characteristics, Galatians 5:22-23 lists love, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness, all of which must be expressed toward an object. It's not enough to be kind in one's heart—one must show kindness to others.
Peace is no exception. Biblical peace is more than the cessation of hostilities. It is harmony, safety, friendliness, and relational tranquility. Humans are incapable of creating such conditions, as five minutes' viewing of any newscast will prove. Only God can establish peace.
The peace of God begins with God's making peace between Himself and mankind. A true state of peace requires the unity of at least two parties. It also requires sacrifice as self-interest is subordinated to the good of the relationship. The peace between men and God is no different. God's contribution was to send Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), to submit His life (Isaiah 53:5). When we repent and respond in faith to the gift of God, He saves us, and peace is born (Romans 5:1).
When two people are at peace with God, they will also be at peace with each other. Jesus told the seventy disciples, "Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you" (Luke 10:5-6). If the owner of the home had peace with God, he would naturally be at peace with God's messenger. Romans 14:13-19 shows that those who value the kingdom of God will live in peace. And Ephesians 2:14 says that Jesus is more than just an example of peace or the bestower of it; He is our peace.
God's peace will guard our hearts and minds during times of trouble (Philippians 4:7). It is a peace unlike anything the world can give and is the antidote to fear and anxiety (John 14:27). John 16:33 says, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." Peace with God overshadows conflict in the world.
Romans 8:6 explains exactly where peace comes from: "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." It's "perfect peace," according to Isaiah 26:3. As we allow the Spirit to develop fruit in us, we will have real peace with God and each other.
What does it mean that 'blessed are the peacemakers'?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus opens with a series of statements concerning blessedness known as the Beatitudes. The seventh Beatitude is "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). In what way are peacemakers "blessed"? And who are these peacemakers?
First, we must understand what Jesus means by "blessed." The Greek word translated "blessed" in this verse is one that is also translated "happy." A blessed person will have joy and contentment.
Also, we must understand what a "peacemaker" is. The Greek word simply indicates a person who makes or works toward peace. A person can only work toward peace if he is at peace himself. Believers have peace with God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). God is the source of peace (Philippians 4:7) and calls His followers to exhibit peace in their own lives (Galatians 5:22; Romans 12:18).
Living as a peacemaker follows the example of Jesus Himself. He is called the "Prince of Peace" in Isaiah 9:6. Ephesians 2:14-16 reveals that Jesus is our peace in that He has reconciled Jew and Gentile and reconciled both to God. Jesus offers this same peace to His followers: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27).
Jesus said that peacemakers are blessed because they will be called sons of God. In other words, they will have the honor of being identified as children of "the God of peace" (Romans 15:33). As The Message Bible puts it, "That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family" (Matthew 5:9b). To live as a child of God is to have the greatest relationship in the world. It's a relationship made possible by the Prince of Peace: "for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith" (Galatians 3:26).
A peacemaker actively works toward peace. Whether it's to provide peace between two people or two nations, our world is in much need of those who represent the heart of God to bring peace to broken relationships. Those who assist in such efforts will find joy in the experience of seeing people reconciled to one another and to God. Every believer should be a peacemaker in the sense of spreading the good news that peace with God is possible. "Peace" was part of the angels' message to the shepherds when Jesus was born (Luke 2:14). "Peace" is part of our message to the world because God "through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18)