An Instrument of God’s Peace

One of the classic hymns contains the prayer, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.”[1] That petition expresses a loving concern for others. The outcome of love is abiding peace. The Lord Jesus promised His people,

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

When we come to appreciate the fullness of Christ’s peace, we may inadvertently keep it to ourselves instead of passing it on to others. If that were the case, we would be praying, in effect, “Lord, make me a sponge of Thy peace!” That doesn’t sound very noble…

Trusting Christ to live His life through us (John 15:5) implies that His life will be extended through us to others. Such was the pattern of the apostle Paul’s ministry. Consider these examples:

“Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles”(Acts 15:12).

“Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul” (Acts 19:11).

“When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry (Acts 21:19; cf. 2 Co 2:14; Rom 15:18,19).

So we see that the ultimate source of Christian ministry is the Spirit of God. His presence is not intended to merely bless the individual believer; His life is to be expressed through the believer to bless others. The Lord Jesus came to give us life that is abundant, but we must not hoard this abundant life for ourselves.

British preacher and author, Dr. W. E. Sangster, put his finger on this principle in his book, The Secret of Radiant Life:

“This is a moment for complete candour. Even to seek the secret of radiant life as an end in itself and something you want is spiritually impossible. It is self-defeating. God made this peace and radiance a by-product. Open your nature to the life of God; welcome the Eternal into your narrow heart, and peace and radiance will be yours … but only as His life is allowed the ruling place in yours and streams through you to other people. Paradoxical as it may sound, God can only stay in you when He passes through. To covet God just for what you are going to get out of Him is blasphemous and contradictory in its very essence. When the life of God comes into a human soul, it is still the life of God. It cannot be other than it is. It is of the nature of God to love without limit and reach out in blessing to all. He comes gladly to any willing heart that He may pass through in blessing to others. The love of God is not dammed [stopped up]. Where it cannot pass through, it cannot fully inflow … The divine law is ‘Give and it shall be given to you’… ” [2]

The Dead Sea or the Lake of Genessaret?

This principle can also illustrated in the geography of Israel. The Sea of Galilee (also known as the Lake of Genessaret -Luke 5:1) receives water from the Jordan River on its north side. It is fed by springs at the foot of snow-capped Mt Hermon and releases water on its south side. There the Jordan continues its route down the Rift Valley to the Dead Sea. In New Testament times, the Lake of Genessaret had plentiful fish, supported settlements around it, and witnessed much of Christ’s earthly ministry. This Lake can symbolize the believer who receives God’s gifts in order to be a blessing to others (John 7:38; 4:10). Such a disciple is a conduit of God’s grace.

By way of contrast, the Dead Sea can symbolize the person who lives only for him/herself. The Jordan River runs from the Lake of Genessaret at 695 feet below sea level to the Dead Sea at 1,285 feet below sea level. (The lowest part of it being 1,300 feet lower still!) Water evaporates from this sea, but no river flows out of it. The result is the sea’s water has 25% concentrated chemical deposits that make it “dead”–not able to sustain the life of fish. [3]

Which do you want to be a symbol of your spiritual life: the Dead Sea or the Lake of Genessaret? The key is letting the water of life flow through you. These rivers of living water are meant to bring God’s peace to those around you.

Peace with God

We know that peace with God comes through saving faith in the Lord Jesus (Rom. 5:1). Missionary John Hyde, for example, demonstrated the sharing of abundant life through his ministry. A biographer gave this episode from his evangelism in India to show his burden for the lost:

“The fullness of the Holy Ghost in John Hyde’s life made him a prayer warrior, a watchman on the walls (Isaiah 62:6,7)… On one trip to a distant village, Hyde came under the persuasion that ten souls would be won to the Lord. En route, he and the native evangelist, with their ox cart, stopped at a cottage of strangers to ask for water. The missionary presented the Savior, and as he pleaded with the family the native worker became insistent that they move onward. Hyde persisted, however, in his earnest presentation of the Lord, and by the end of the afternoon all nine members of the family had received Christ. ‘But what about that one?’ was Hyde’s reply to the insistence of his native worker that they be on their way. Then it was that the father in the home, just a new Christian himself, brought in a nephew who had been playing outside the house; and all ten were in the fold.” [4]

Peace within

The fullness of life in Christ calls us to witness of His peace within the believer as well. The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom.” It means more than the absence of worry; it connotes wholeness and fulfillment. The Old Testament priests would pronounce this blessing for “shalom”:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26).

We are to be witnesses of the gospel for the lost and the “gospel” for the believer–the saving Life of the indwelling Christ! (Rom. 5:10; Gal. 2:20). He alone gives “the peace which surpasses understanding” (Phil. 4:6,7).

One way to be an intrument of God’s peace is to pass on Christ-centered literature. Robert Murray McCheyne commented on this: “Men return again and again to the few who have mastered the spiritual secret, whose life has been hid with Christ in God. These are of the old time religion, hung to the nails of the cross.” [5]

So if it is possible that you’ve been more of a sponge of peace than a channel of it, reaffirm your prayer to be a means of blessing to those around you. God fills your life to make you an instrument of His peace.


[1] Attributed to Francis of Assisi.

[2] W. E. Sangster, The Secret of Radiant Life, (Hodder & Stoughton), p.47,48 Cf. Luke 6:38.

[3] Note this description of the Dead Sea (known before the second century A.D. as the Salt Sea): “… there is something in the prevalent sterility and the dry, burnt look of the shores, the overpowering heat, the occasional smell of sulfur, the dreary salt marsh at the southern end, and the fringe of dead driftwood round the margin, which must go far to excuse the title which so many ages have attached to the lake, and which we may be sure it will never lose [The DEAD Sea].” -Smith’s Bible Dictionary. “The Salt Sea.”

[4] V.Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret (Zondervan), p. 71,72

[5] Such insights are deposited in classics like the popular devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest. Its author, Oswald Chambers, diligently taught the fullness of God’s grace and peace during his time at the Bible Training College in England and later during his service at the Y.M.C.A. in Egypt during World War II.

Grace Notes (c) 2000, 2010 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non commercial use. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.