John Broger, a friend of mine, put it well when he summed up the counseling truth I teach by saying, “My peace and joy doesn’t depend on anyone else.” It doesn’t. It depends solely on my relationship with Christ. Christ is the “Lord of peace” (2 Thess. 3:16). That means, among other things, that He sovereignly dispenses peace, of the sort He alone can give, to whom He wishes, on the terms He sets. Peace depends on Christ and one’s relationship to Him.

All too often today, as in the first experience of man with the effects of sin in the Garden, we fail to recognize this. Instead, we insist that if “things”—circumstances, happenings—had only been different, “then I would have had peace and joy.” But Christ, not the shifting situations of life, is the dispenser of joy and peace. He is not only the Lord of peace, He is also the Lord of joy. He urges us to ask the Father in His Name for those things that bring true joy so that our “joy may be complete” (John 16:24). Joy and peace, therefore do not depend on circumstances. Christ is already in the circumstances working His sovereign will. We must affirm that and properly relate ourselves to Him and the circumstance. When we do, we see not only the circumstance itself, with all of its attendant difficulties or tragedy, but also opportunities in the midst of trial that we could in no other way understand. We see life not as some absurd course of events through which we are fated to stumble, but as a part of God’s program for honoring the Name of His Son. If Christ is in the event, working out His own pleasure, making the wrath of men to praise Him, then it all has meaning!

You can see how important the principle is. Your peace and joy do not depend on circumstances.

Nor do your peace and joy depend on your husband or wife, your parents or children, your boss or your employees, or any of the other persons around you on whom you regularly blame your lack of peace and joy. It is wrong for you to say, “If only my wife had…, then I would have…” No, your peace and joy do not depend on what your wife does or does not do. The only question is this: Am I properly relating to Christ in whatever happens in my life? When your wife wrongs you, do you fall apart, become bitter and resentful, go hold a pity party on your own or with whomever will hear you, or do you talk to the Lord Jesus Christ about it, pray for her, and in response, do whatever He tells you in His Word? If you return good for evil, pray for those who despitefully use you, turn the other cheek, and so on ― all to please Christ ― you will know peace and joy regardless of what others may do to you. No wonder Paul declares, “God’s empire is …righteousness and peace and joy by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

If, therefore, you are peaceful and joyful, it is because you are in the proper relationship to Christ. Both circumstances and persons may bring happiness to us at times; that is good. In the providence of God, this is one way in which the miseries of this life are offset. But this is not the peace or the joy about which Paul was speaking. Biblical peace and joy are deeper and more abiding. A believer, rightly related to Christ, may have a sense of peace in danger and a sense of joy in trouble. These qualities remain even when the outer circumstances of life grow dark and cold, because they are dispensed by God. Paul can write, “Now may the God of hope fill you with every sort of joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13).

So, my Christian friend, ponder this fact with all of its many implications: “Your peace and joy depend on your relationship to Christ.” There is both hope and responsibility bound up in that statement. These two, hope and responsibility, are always the two sides of one piece of paper.

Ask yourself, “Am I joyful? Am I at peace?” If you cannot honestly answer yes, then examine your life. Ask yourself, “In what ways have I been displeasing God? How have I failed to do what He requires? Have I been depending on circumstances or on the goodwill of others for my peace and joy in stead of depending on Christ and His Word?” In such a self-evaluation and in repentance leading to a new course of life in the future, lies the way of peace and joy for you.

Jay E Adams

Institute for Nouthetic Studies

100 White Meadow Ct
Simpsonville, SC 29681

(864) 399-9583




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