Everybody is looking for peace. We want peace in our souls, peace in our country, and we want peace in our homes. Peace is perhaps the most precious possession that anyone can have. The exciting thing for the Christian is, when you have Jesus in your life you can have peace on a daily basis regardless of your circumstances! On the other hand, it is possible to have a mansion, great job, perfect body or prosperous finances and still not have peace.
As a teenager I was a fan of Jerry West, the great basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, “Mr. Clutch” he was called. He wrote a book, and I noticed the subtitle was, “My Special Life, And My Tormented Life.” Being successful, rich and a person of notoriety doesn’t ensure that you’re automatically going to have peace. Yet, conversely we can have next to nothing, and still have perfect peace. That’s because God is peace. He’s the author of peace and He wants to give us that peace. The truth is we can’t make peace (not in our home or in our marriage), but what we can do is sow the right seeds. As we sow the right seeds and as we water them with our tears and prayers, its incredible how that peace can grow. Let’s look at our next principle on the home.
“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house” (Proverbs 21:9).
The ancient middle-eastern homes were often flat roofed. Apparently they would have a getaway place, sort of like a giant porch up on their roofs. According to this Scripture, Solomon said it was better to crawl up to the top of the house just to get away from his wife, and hopefully get a few moments of peace. Man, to be in the house with a brawling woman . He had a beautiful house (a wide house), riches, notoriety and yet he didn’t have peace in his home. Though the context of this verse is that of a contentious woman, it could just as easily be about a surly man. There’s no reason to think that women are more argumentative than men. But the fact is, a quarrelsome mate is pure torture. It’s not like this person was cranky just once in a while, the sense is that it was a constant challenge. The husband or wife just could not get away from the irritableness.
I’m sure in his mind he was thinking something like, “I really don’t get it, we have a lovely home, a good life, plenty of food…what is it that you’re so unhappy about?” He couldn’t deal with her ungrateful spirit any longer. Apparently things had gone on like this week after week, month after month, perhaps even year after year. So finally this fellow came up with a solution for self-preservation: residing in a corner of the housetop. It really is sad how far down some relationships can go. When God gave Adam and Eve to each other, He told them He was going to give them the greatest blessing He ever could – a soul mate! It was His number one earthly blessing. Adam already had animals, a garden and a job; just about everything a man could wish for. But God poured out His special favor when He said, “I’m going to bless you with a life-long companion.” That is what makes this verse in Proverbs so pathetic. A relationship that was meant to be a great blessing and strength had degenerated so far, it was tearing him up on the inside. Regardless of which spouse is causing unrest in the home, our goal must be to seek peace in it.
“But,” you say, “I can’t make my home be peaceful; I can’t make my spouse be settled, and I can’t make them feel comfortable.” True, but what you can do is sow seeds!
If we will practice sowing the following 6 seeds, then we will make great head way towards bringing peace to the home:
1. PRAY for Peace
I’m convinced that a lot of times we try to negotiate peace or manipulate peace. When first, we should pray for peace! In Psalms 122:6 God says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem...” In a sense, that Jerusalem can be our home. Consider Acts 1 when God told His discouraged disciples, to begin a concentric outreach to the nations, “I want you to reach out from your home (Jerusalem), then to your region and finally to your world.” We all have our own “Jerusalem”, it’s where we live - our home. Praying for the peace of our Jerusalem then is praying for the peace of the gospel to touch everyone in our home front.
Can you imagine what would happen if every husband and every wife began to cry out for peace in their Jerusalem? What would happen if fathers and mothers would walk from room to room crying out to the Lord, “God, bring peace to my son and bring peace to my daughter. O God bring a settled heart!” Imagine what would happen if a wife began to pray, “O God, bring peace to my husband as he is lying here sleeping.” Perhaps she just leans over while he is sleeping and gently lays her hand on his shoulder and asks God bring peace to his spirit. I believe if we practiced praying for peace instead of breaking the peace we would see the miraculous! We easily overlook the importance of praying for peace in our homes. If we’re going to bring peace to our marriage we should begin by praying for it.
2. SPEAK Peace
David was deeply affected by the fact that the people around him weren’t speaking peace: “For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land” (Psalms 35:20). Typically, we use the word “peace” as a noun. The word is used as something that is a place arrived at or a thing that is achieved. But in Scripture, often the word peace is used in connection with a verb. God tells us to extend peace or to pursue peace or to love peace or to make peace or to proclaim peace. David lamented that the people around him were not speaking peace. Peace is something that we should all speak. We’re all human, and even the most meek and mild person is still a unique individual that has opinions and views. As we communicate our individuality, we must purpose to speak peacefully by using words that are cheerful, encouraging, healing, helpful, positive, respectful, supportive and sweet. Nobody is responsible for our words but our self. We alone are responsible for our countenance, our tone and for the choice of our words.
In the Growing Kids God’s Way parenting seminar, the speakers point out that at times, parents submarine their own disciplining efforts through incendiary words. We ought to try to speak our commands positively. For example, rather than saying, “Don’t spill your cereal,” as the children are on the way to the table. Say positively, “Let’s try to be careful as we go to the table.” Now, of course, all of us need to learn to obey and respond to direct commands, but saying things positively is following the admonition of Paul. He told fathers, “...provoke not your children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4). Rather than saying, “Don’t talk so much”, say positively, “Let’s learn how to be good listeners.” Being made in the image of God requires that we treat each other with dignity.
3. KNOW Peace
This reminds me of the saying “Know God, know peace; no God, no peace.” When you know God, you know peace, “For he is our peace…” (Ephesians 2:14). We cannot be at peace with others if we are not at peace within our self. When we aren’t at peace within our self it is likely because we don’t have peace with God. As I look in the eyes of some people all I can see is troubled water. I’ve been to the ocean at times when the water is just foaming and churning. I’ve been at other places early in the morning when the water is like a mirror, not even a ripple…just as smooth as could be. Some lives are troubled like a foamy sea and others just as placid as the morning still of a mountain lake. Peace like a calm lake, is what happens when Christ comes in.
I’m convinced there is a lack of peace in homes, at times, simply because people have not been saved by the blood of Christ. The older I get in Christ and understand the things of the Lord, I recognize that the story in 1 Kings 19 where God states that only 7,000 people in all of Israel had not “bowed their knee to Baal” is so true today as well. Charles Wesley said, “When we get to heaven we’re going to be surprised at the people who didn’t get there…” (he also added we’re also going to be surprised at all the people who did get there that we didn’t think would). Frankly, I meet church people regularly that don’t really understand salvation in Christ. When you know the Lord, there is a deep down peace, a real calmness that exists.
I want to sit down with some people and rationally ask, “Why are you constantly upset; what’s the root of the issue?” Everything bothers them: if it’s not the weather, it’s the government; if it’s not the government, it’s their job; if it’s not the job, it’s the neighbor; if it’s not the neighbor, it’s the car; if it’s not the car, it’s the house – at some point I wonder to myself, “Where does it stop?” When do we find peace? When you find Jesus, that’s when! Somehow and some way He always brings peace! If we want peace, we must certainly be saved.
4. SEEK peace
We can’t have peace if we don’t strive for peace. What do I mean by seeking peace? “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him…seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:10, 11). The word “ensue” in verse 11, is quite similar to the word “pursue.” Seeking peace means to be proactive about it, to make it happen. Don’t just let peace come if it comes; seek it. Actively speak words that bring peace in the home. Seeking peace means that we need to seek forgiveness. Say things like: “What have I done? How can we make this right? Is everything alright?” We all need to swallow our pride, humble ourselves, speak soft words, submit in the matter, yield, and make peace somehow. What will it take to make peace? What will it take to get this matter taken care of? Obviously we can’t submit to sin or that which is unrighteous, but we can usually do something to make things peaceful. To seek it is to eagerly pursue it!
Lynette and I had very few arguments really, but like any couple we certainly had our moments. Sometimes she would be the bigger person that would seek peace and try to make things right and sometimes I would. I painfully remember one particular instance, after we had been married only a few years. I was helping her do the laundry and was folding the towels in a way that made sense to me, that is, fold them in half a couple of times and then you stick them up on the shelf. I could tell however, that she was getting a little edgy. I was thinking, “Ok, what am I doing wrong?” Finally, it came out that the way I was doing it was not the way she wanted them folded. “There’s a right way to fold towels? Really?” I pontified. “Yes there is, actually”, she replied. I was irritated and she was unhappy. Her way of folding actually was a handsome, space saving way. Mine? Well let’s just say it was not! I realized this was her jurisdiction and this is what she wanted, so I backed off pushing my position and tried to fold them her way as well as this “laundry challenged” guy could.
I have counseled with couples at times that come in furious at each other. “Okay, what’s the matter?” I inquire gently. They then will typically throw out a couple of “tidbits”, but they’re not going to get to the meat of the matter for a while, because it’s embarrassing. I will probe, “Could you give me an example of what you are having issues with?” You wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve heard over 40 years of counseling. If it weren’t so sad it would be hilarious! I mean, fighting over getting paint on the doorknob? Fighting over not having salt and pepper on the table? That’s where the fight is? Wow! Likely there have been deeper things building up, but here is the fact – if one person would have been the pursuer of peace, things would have never gotten to that point. When we’re upset, we can sure stand our ground over the stupidest things!
5. ESTABLISH Peace
Establishing peace means making peace the “government” of our home. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end… and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever…” (Isaiah 9:7). That’s what we all want, amen? Don’t you want His (God’s) government in your home? Every home has to be governed, and I for one want His government established in my home. In order to have peace in our home we need good government. Having government means doing things in a planned way.
On a very practical note let me just say, we certainly need to have physical order in the home. It’s simply amazing how de-cluttering the home can bring peace. If we want to establish peace in our souls, there really needs to be peace in our environment. I’m not saying you need an interior decorator but, I will say that our home does need harmony. God makes us with a need for spiritual, mental and physical symmetry. God didn’t make us with lopsided eyes, almost all humans have two eyes, two ears…we need symmetry. I think a home also needs to have symmetry. For example, I hate pictures on the wall that are crooked. They drive me crazy. I have even been known to straighten the paintings in public places (no, I don’t have OCD). Here is what I am saying: when days of dirty dishes are piled up in the sink, stacks of books and papers are all over the living area and our house is in disarray, it does not bring peace. One of the best things we can do to create order is to learn to organize and simplify.
Not only should we de-clutter our houses we should also examine our priorities. Establishing God’s government and peace may mean adjusting our priorities. Our spouse is to be our number one earthly priority. I’m convinced that one way wives and husbands create disharmony in the home is because of a lack of understanding priorities. A peaceful home is one where the basic needs of a husband’s and wife are met. Our first earthly priority is our mate, not even the children. If our spouse is suffering, we need to do something about that, we need to watch our priorities. Once our physical home and our priorities are in order, we can work toward organizing the household government in an atmosphere of peace.
6. STAND for Peace
“I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalms 120:7).
One of the ways I believe we stand for peace is when we love the Word. The foundational principle of every home must be: In this home, we base our decisions on the Word. We will not make any decisions that are unbiblical. Having genuine peace in a home is based on the living the Bible way, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalms 119:165). When we love God’s Word, there is peace. One of the best choices a family can ever make is to base all their actions on God’s Word. God’s role for the wife and God’s role for the husband are to be based on Scripture not culture. When we do that, God’s great peace comes. Any other way, however good it might seem, is a worldly way and will eventually work towards disharmony.
We also stand for peace is when we love righteousness. We make a stand for godly rest when we do right according to the Word of God, “…righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalms 85:10). What this verse means is that peace and doing right are inseparable. There’s no way to have peace without righteousness. When you have peace it’s because there’s been righteousness. We are apt to be drawn into the world by our own flesh, but when we stand up and do right, peace comes. Peace comes when the husband and when the wife are living right. That doesn’t mean perfect or sinless. Stuff happens, but when it does, we make it right by seeking forgiveness from God and man.
I love the word Shalom (Hebrew word for peace). “Shalom” is a common greeting in Israel. Instead of saying “Good morning” they say “Peace.” Wouldn’t that be a great way to wake up every morning? You look at your mate and just say “Peace.” May it be so, dear Lord.