Piece of Mind or Peace of Mind?

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. –Romans 12:2 NIV

It had been a long week. I was learning a new job at work, driving all over western Pennsylvania shopping for a car for my daughter—and suffering sticker shock in the process—hanging out laundry after dark, and trying to keep my cool.

The flat tire fifty miles from home didn’t help much, but I was proud of the way I handled myself after Mr. Road Rage tailgated me for several miles, then gave me a not-too-friendly wave as he roared past. Could it have been that I was just too tired to respond? Or was it that I was still thinking about the man who saw me and my daughter struggling with the jack and stopped on his way home from work and changed the tire for us?

Although this incident happened many years ago, I never forgot it, nor the life lesson it hammered home: I really am what I think (Proverbs 23:7). My thoughts have a powerful effect on what I do and say, on my attitude about anything. Dwelling on the obstacles I face, the mistakes I make, and the unkind things people do only makes me frustrated, stressed, and angry. But thinking about the good things that happen, however small, helps me to get through the tough times and become a better person.

Sins of the mind are subtle and sneaky because of their very privacy. No one knows what I’m thinking unless I reveal it. So I can think all the thoughts I want, no matter how bad they are, right? Wrong!

Sins of the mind are like a slow-growing tumor that masks its presence behind easily explained symptoms—until it becomes so big and exerts such devastating effects it can no longer be ignored. It must be dealt with, and swiftly. If you wait too long, the damage can be irreversible.

What are the sins of the mind? Harboring unhealthy thoughts, whether they be about the ways people have hurt us and the revenge we could seek, fantasies that have no substance in real life but give us momentary pleasure, addictions, a “poor-me” mentality that dwells on how everything seems to go wrong for me and right for someone else, another person’s faults … the list goes on—you fill in the blanks.

There’s no such thing as the thought police who bang on the door of my mind and arrest my unhealthy thoughts. I am the only one who controls what I think. It is I who must capture every thought and rein it in (2 Corinthians 10:5). That’s why sins of the mind are so dangerous. It’s like the fox guarding the henhouse. I need help!

When I want to rinse out a glass of water into which one of those pesky ladybug-like insects falls, I often hold it under running water, letting the clean water displace the contaminated water. This principle of displacement works for cleaning out unhealthy thoughts from the mind, too. Replacing the bad thoughts that contaminate my spirit, behavior, relationships, and reputation with good thoughts doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.

Getting rid of the bad thoughts by filling my mind with the Word of God is like placing that dirty water glass under a wellspring of clean, fresh, renewing water (Hebrews 4:12). “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things,” Paul wrote. “And the peace of God will be with you (Philippians 4:8).”

I have a choice—piece of mind or peace of mind. Piece of mind leads to turmoil. Peace of mind leads to harmony and serenity. Funny how it all comes down to one letter—the letter “I.”

Examine me, God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any deceit in me, and guide me in the eternal way. Amen. (Psalm 139:23–24 TEV)

READ AND REFLECT: Look up Philippians 4:8 in several Bible translations and meditate on the variety of words used.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Piece of Mind or Peace of Mind?

peace-candle

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14 (NKJV)

I almost blew it. I almost made a bad situation worse, a complicated situation more complicated. The temptation was strong. My words and actions would’ve been justified—so I thought at that moment.

While I can’t give the details of what happened, I can say this: I was ready to give someone whose behavior was offensive—and had long been offensive—a piece of my mind. I’d kept my mouth shut far too long, I reasoned. Enough was enough.

Before I picked up the phone, though, I took a prayer timeout. I slipped into my bedroom, shut the door, dropped to my knees, and poured out my anger, frustration, and pain to my heavenly Father. The battle between what I wanted to do and what I knew I should do—what God would want me to do—was intense.

The needle gauge on my faith tank was pointing to Empty. Faith that God would answer my prayers for change, for healing for the persons involved, for a transformation of heart, mind, and spirit—something only God can do.

I left my prayer room still shaken, still trembling with emotion, clinging to something called self-control for all I was worth.

Over the past week, I’ve had time to reflect on what happened, and I’ve realized several things:

I can’t control another person’s words or actions, however hurtful they are, or their impact and consequences. I can only control, with God’s help, my own actions and reactions, which should reflect the growing fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Acting in the heat of the moment, succumbing to pressure, saying words that can’t be unsaid, doing something than can’t be undone, is never the right choice. Taking the situation, in all its ugliness, your emotional turmoil, your jumbled thoughts to God, is. It’s never right to give a person, however offensive they are, a piece of your mind. It is right to set firm boundaries and let them know, in a loving way, where those boundaries are.

Convincing another person they’re wrong is not my job. I need to remind myself often, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” (Billy Graham) Even when loving is hard. Even when there’s no love left in your heart for that person. Even when you don’t even want to allow God to love that person through you.

I can’t always be the peacemaker, no matter how hard I try. But I can pray for God’s peace to prevail—in the situation and in my own heart, mind, and spirit. I can pray that my negative emotions shrivel and die, crowded out by the love, joy, and peace that come from God.

Sometimes we have to live with the thorn in the flesh, but God’s grace is all we need to endure and triumph over it (2 Corinthians 12:7–10).

And finally, God reminded me of another impossible situation, many years ago, that I thought would never change—another person who was a thorn in my flesh for a long time despite my prayers. In His time and in His way, God worked a miracle, and that person was transformed.

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, when we light the candle of Peace. While we have little control over external peace—or the lack of it—we do have control over our own inner peace. It’s simply a matter of submitting to the Prince of Peace.

As I light the second Advent candle, Lord, may Your peace prevail in my heart, mind, and spirit—and be a beacon of light in a hurting world that so needs Your peace. Amen.

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Read and meditate on the following PEACE verses:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18 (NIV)

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. – Romans 14:19 (NKJV)

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. – 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6­–7 (NIV)

 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone. – Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)

. . . be at peace with each other. – Mark 9:50 (NIV)

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. – Psalm 34:14 (NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – Jesus, as quoted in John 14:27 (NIV)