Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Quiet and Peaceable Life

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." - 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Had any peace and quiet lately? I don't know exactly what the Apostle Paul meant when he encouraged us to pray so that we may "lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty", but I guess that not only are we typically not doing it, but we probably don't plan on doing it at any time in the future. There seems to be two issues here. The first is that we typically aren't praying for "kings and for all that are in authority" and secondly we don't seek after the "quiet and peaceable life". Let's look at both of these briefly and see if we can get a better understanding of this exhortation.

In the First Century, when Paul was writing to Timothy, in fact, in most centuries, it was very important to look to the king and others in authority as being critical in leading a peaceful life. Wars, pestilences, famines, floods, riots, civil unrest, invading armies, roaming bands of thieves and other dangers were part of everyday life. Without peace, there was no "peacefulness" and no prosperity. You could plant, build, and hope but more than likely, your efforts would ultimately come to ruin by the edge of a sword or through the anger of your king. If a kingdom could have a period of relative peace and quiet for a generation or so, it was truly unique and blessed. This was not only true in Europe and in Asia but even an African proverb says, "peace is prosperity".

This was not the way God intended life. Fortunately, in the United States and even for most of the developed Western nations, we have democratic governments that have found the way to largely bring us peace and the prosperity. Wars, while some claim to be ever increasing are actually actually fewer in these fortunate areas. It's a truism that democracies tend not to go to war with each other.

What do we do with this peace and prosperity? We become anxious and fearful. In fact, we end up having anything but and peace and quiet but more like hectic and busy which means we miss also the target of godliness and honesty. Do you doubt this? Have you watched the evening news lately?

The second verse the 23rd Psalm is one of my favorite scriptures. "He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters." Those words speak peace, don't they. They mean that God's best for you should likely include a much slower pace. He wants our first priority in life to be worshipping and praising Him. God desires that we spend sufficient time with our families too. He wants us to lead others to the truth and grow spiritually. Then, all our needs will be provided by His riches in glory.

So, this is too bad. It's kind of like George Bush (41) missing the "peace dividend". Here in the United States, we have the opportunity of a peaceable life but we not only miss it but we also don't have the godliness and honesty that it is to bring. Being godly is to knowledge that God is the one that is in control of our tomorrows. He is the one that brings order out of chaos. He is the one who raises up and He is the one who brings low. To be godly is to acknowledge that God's rule for our lives is absolute. His rules and order and chosen conduct for living is to be embraced and held in the highest regard.

Honesty is a closely related virtue. It speaks of truth. The bible says that God is truth. Jesus tells us he is "telling the truth" 119 times in the New Testament. Jesus held a high regard for the truth and knew that unless He pointed it out, we may miss it. Today however, many don't believe the truth. They would rather believe a lie if it fits better with their viewpoint.

Here is my action plan to lead the "quiet and peaceable life". First, remember to pray. Our leaders need prayer and the relative harmony of our world can easily be shaken by poor decisions and ungodly leadership. Secondly, slow down. We fuss and become anxious over relatively minor things. We have much to be thankful for today and we need to understand how to live within our present prosperity rather than to mortgage it for more stuff.

Third, remember to be Godly. That's right, bring out the old capital "G" on "godly" as we have one God who has given us his rule book for our life. We will find success and happiness when we live within the guidelines that God has established. Finally, embrace the truth. Opinions are one thing, the truth however is still the truth. There is an ultimate truth and it can be found. Pray to find the truth while you are praying for our leaders and those in authority.

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