Have you ever labored long and hard over a puzzle, only to discover near completion that you were missing a piece? The overall picture has come together beautifully, but as you look at the fruit of your labors, your attention is drawn immediately to the one piece of peculiarity. Its absence screams for your attention. A puzzle of a thousand pieces can be ruined by one missing piece.
So it is with life. We lead very full lives, yet something is missing.
Peace. Say the word out loud. Seriously, say it. “Peace.” Doesn’t it sound good? Doesn’t it sound refreshing? Repeat the word in your mind. Peace. Doesn’t it feel good? Doesn’t it feel like exactly what you need? We could all use a little more peace in our lives, couldn’t we?
Even warriors desire peace. We all desire peace. We just have a difficult time finding it. Perhaps we struggle to even define it, but we all know when peace is missing. We know we need it, but how do we get it? How can we find the missing peace? How can we truly experience peace?
We tend to think of peace as an absence of conflict. If we end all wars, put a stop to violence, and keep people from hate, then the peace will be won. Conflict cessation may be a form of keeping the peace, but don’t we desire more?
The Hebrew Scriptures speak of peace as shalom – a rich word pregnant with meaning. It can refer to prosperity and success, completeness and intactness, personal welfare and health, deliverance and salvation, and, of course, the absence of conflict and war. It is healing. It is wholeness in place of brokenness. It is the one true God picking up the shattered pieces of wrecked humanity and forming out of them something beautiful, something whole.
The New Testament speaks of peace as eiréné (i-ray'-nay). It can refer to peace, harmony, and concord between governments and individuals. As it corresponds to the Hebrew shalom, it carries forward the ideas of personal wellbeing and welfare. Most significantly, peace with God refers to a right relationship with God, the hope of eternal life and the assurance of eternal salvation. The gracious bestowal of peace with God can be personally experienced only through faith in Jesus Christ as sufficient Savior and risen Lord (Ephesians 2:8-9). Hell cancelled, Heaven guaranteed – that is the confidence of all who have peace with God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
Further, the reality of peace with God brings to present experience the shalom of God, whereby the Divine Potter picks up the broken pieces of our lives and makes out of them something useful, something beautiful, something glorious. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Therein lies the rub. Perhaps, like me, you know the confidence of forgiveness and the assurance of salvation. You’ve experienced moments of peace, but they are fleeting. As Christians, how can we who know the reality of peace with God experientially enjoy the peace of God?
We know certain practices lead to peace. Prayer comes first to mind. God could not be more unambiguous than He is in Ephesians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Are you anxious? Pray. Worried? Give thanks. When you do, God promises to replace anxiety with peace. Like a sentinel keeping watch over sleeping soldiers, God's peace will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus so that you can rest in Him.
Likewise, in the search for peace, the daily practice of forgiveness is a given. So also is kindness. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Of course, experiencing peace in our personal relationships does not depend entirely on us. After all it takes two to get tangled. That’s why, in one of the most qualified commands in all of Scripture, the Apostle reminds us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).
This much we know. But in our quest for peace, we have neglected the one practice, the one attitude that lies at the very heart of our pursuit. Both the living experience of the peace of God and the daily enjoyment of peace with our fellows hinge upon one thing: The “Secret” Simplicity of Humility.
THE "SECRET" SIMPLICITY OF HUMILITY
The ancient fathers of our faith and the devotional writers of the Christian era all attest to a simple secret: Those who experience peace are those who embrace humility.
I like to define humility as seeing ourselves as God sees us – nothing more and nothing less. We are created in God’s image. We are sinners saved by divine grace. We are new creations in Christ Jesus. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. we are completely dependent upon our Father in Heaven. That’s why we sing, “I need Thee every hour,” and “Prone to wander – Lord, I feel it.” Humility is a sober self-assessment. It is seeing ourselves as God sees us, but there is more.
Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. The humiliation of the cross and the exaltation of the crown set the pattern for every Christ-follower (Philippians 2:5-11). He who was rich for our sake became poor, so that we by His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Humility is doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. It is prioritizing others above ourselves. It is considering not only our own interests, but also the interests of others. It is possessing the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:1-5).
If humility is the secret of peace, then pride is the thief. In his inspiring devotional masterpiece The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis writes, “True peace dwells only in the heart of the humble; but the heart of the proud is ever full of pride and jealousy.”
Pride keeps us from prayer. Pride keeps us from seeking forgiveness from those we have hurt. It prevents us from offering forgiveness to those who have harmed us. It is pride that keeps us awake with memories of unfair attacks, unjust words, and thoughts of “If I had only said this or if only I had done that.” The truly humble do not concern themselves with being misheard, misunderstood or misrepresented.
Slights and tones and sideways glances and dirty looks stick to the heart of pride. They slide right off the humble. The humble heart heeds neither disparaging remark nor unjust evaluation.
Pride plans revenge. Humility moves along. The humble leave vengeance in the hands of the Gracious Avenger, confident that He will repay, thankful that He is merciful and forgiving. The humble respond to attacks by praying for repentance and offering forgiveness. They offer the benefit of the doubt, refusing to judge motives, remembering, “There - but by the grace of God - go I.” This is the secret simplicity of humility – the key to discovering the missing peace.
The proverb rightly asserts, “A man's riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat” (Proverbs 13:8). Like the pursuit of riches, pride brings complex rewards. Humility, like contentment, brings the reward of simplicity. The humble are the poor in spirit. They possess the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3). They know the peace of God.
"Do not trust in your own knowledge, nor in the cleverness of any man living, but rather in the grace of God, who aids the humble, and humbles the proud. Do not boast in your possessions, if you have any, nor of the influence of your friends; but glory in God, who gives all things and desires above all things to give you Himself… Remain humble. It does you no harm when you esteem all others better than yourself, but it does you great harm when you esteem yourself above others."
True peace dwells only in the heart of the humble. This is the “secret” simplicity of humility.
 A Kempis, Thomas; translated by Leo Sherley-Price (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1952), 35.
 Ibid., 34, 35.