1160 West Georgia Street Vancouver, BC, V6E 3H7
7 Ways to Bring Peace and Goodwill to Others
The Christmas season can be the most wonderful time of the year for some, and the most stressful or contentious for others. We hear Christmas songs about ‘peace and goodwill to men,’ but sometimes those can seem like concepts far removed from our own personal situations. As Christians though, we know that through Jesus and His victory over death we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). We know that Jesus gives us the peace of God (John 14:27). But Jesus also wants us to be peacemakers, and when we bring peace to others we will be identified as children of God (Matthew 5:9).
This past weekend Pastor Dave talked about peace on earth and goodwill to men. If you missed it you need to go check it out here.
In light of his message, I’d like to offer seven practical ways that you can bring peace to your friends, family, and colleagues this Christmas.
1. Be Thankful
The Bible says we are supposed to give thanks in every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:18). That doesn’t mean we have to give thanks for every circumstance, but that even in the most difficult of situations there is something to be thankful for. This season you may find yourself in an uncomfortable conversation, or in a painfully long lineup to get that last item checked off of your Christmas to-do list. It’s so easy in these moments to give in to negativity and to start complaining about the circumstance you find yourself in. Choosing to be thankful is more of a preventative step in bringing about peace, and gratitude is the antidote to negativity. We’ve all been in a room and seen how one person’s attitude can change the entire atmosphere through negativity or complaining, but it also works in reverse. One positive, thankful person can change the entire atmosphere to one of peace. So, when someone invites you to join in his/her complaining, just know that you can often change the direction of that conversation by simply sharing what you’re grateful for.
I like what Pastor Rick Warren says, that we are all bottomless pits when it comes to encouragement. I for one, have never been over-encouraged, or seen my kids be either. The Bible says we are to keep encouraging each other until Jesus returns (Hebrews 10:25). I remember hearing a sermon about how we all have a filter that keeps us from saying words we shouldn’t, but unfortunately we also apply that same filter to words that we should say. Ever since I heard that I’ve tried to remove the filter that I have when it comes to encouraging other people. When I think a good thought about someone or see someone doing a good job, I try to not just think it but say it as well. Encouragement is a powerful vehicle for bringing goodwill to others, and we hold on to words of encouragement that people have spoken over, or into, our lives. These encouragements can help bravely propel us to do great things for God’s glory. Encouragement also fosters peace because it’s harder to be annoyed at someone who is saying nice things about you. Let’s try to look for ways to call out the good things we see in others and keep building each other up.
3. Be Generous
The life of a Christian is to be marked by generosity. In fact, the early church members sold personal property in order to distribute their resources to those who needed it. A few weeks ago we heard about the amazing work that Isak Pretorius is doing through his organization, For Afrika. As a church, we have partnered with organizations like these to bring peace to peoples’ physical bodies by feeding them and caring for their needs. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” The Apostle James is challenging us to put action to our faith by meeting the needs of those who are less fortunate. This absolutely fosters peace and goodwill. As followers of Jesus, we are supposed to do good works in order that people would see them and give glory to God (Matthew 5:16).
S. Lewis once said that “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.” This may be the hardest thing to do on this list, especially if you’ve experienced hurt or offense by the family members you’re supposed to gather with, or others in your life. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus tells us that we are to ask for forgiveness for our own sins and extend that same forgiveness to others. And if we don’t forgive then God can’t forgive us. Because the door in our hearts that opens up to allow us to extend forgiveness to others is the same door by which we receive forgiveness from God. So if we close the door that extends grace towards those who have hurt us we have also closed the door to be able to receive forgiveness. This of course isn’t possible in our strength, but we can ask for help from the Holy Spirit who will enable us to bring forgiveness to the table this season.
5. Walk in love (Golden Rule)
Jesus told his followers, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). This is such a simple command, but often hard to live out. If we approach every Christmas gathering or activity with this in mind, we will bring the peace of Christ with us. The word empathy has become a buzzword of sorts in recent years, but Jesus had this idea long before it became popular. It’s simply putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and considering the outcome of your words and actions and how they would be perceived and received. Speak how you would want to be spoken to and treat others how you want to be treated. It’s a simple principle that sums up the 613 laws found in the Old Testament. Jesus made it easier for us by handing us the Coles Notes. Let’s put this into practice.
Worship is such an incredible way to transform the spiritual atmosphere around you. I love how this principle is illustrated in 1 Samuel 16. At that time the King (Saul) was tormented by evil and oppressive spirits, but he understood the power of worship and summoned David the shepherd boy who was known for being an ardent worshiper of the one true God.
“And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul,
David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better,
and the tormenting spirit would go away.”
David’s humble worship brought peace to the troubled king. You too can change the spiritual atmosphere by listening to and singing songs of worship. There have been so many times that I have personally seen the evidence of this working during the darkest times of my life. I have come to know the peace that surpasses all understanding when I praise God in every circumstance.
7. Pray for Peace
This is one of the most important steps in bringing peace. We are to come before the Prince of Peace and ask Him to bring His peace to our situation and to others. The Bible instructs us to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), for the peace of our city (Jeremiah 29:7), and also for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122). Prayer is the spiritual weapon that brings peace. Not only for cities and nations but also in our homes and around our neighborhoods. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 that our battle isn’t against other people and that there are spiritual forces behind evil, division, and conflict. Because this is a spiritual battle we need to use a spiritual weapon. That weapon is the word of God and we are to pray the word of God over our situations that need the supernatural peace of God. This is how we break the power of our spiritual enemies.
I’m so grateful that the Bible shows us how to both give and receive peace. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but my prayer and hope this season, and all year long, is that we would be known as a church full of peace and goodwill.