Working my way through the First Book of Peter, internally sighing over his insistence on pointing out all of my worst areas of sanctification (suffering without retaliation, submitting to authorities, blessing my enemies, etc), I came across this:
Formula For the Good Life
"Whoever would love life and see good days must (1) keep their tongue from evil and (2) their lips from deceitful speech. They must (3) turn from evil and (4) do good; they must (5) seek peace and (6) pursue it."
Hah, I thought, no problem here! I've been trudging on the great Road of Sanctification for a good many years now, and I've got this turning away from evil down pat....ho boy. Apparently there's a pride issue that yet again has to be taken to the throne. See what I mean? Peter, always pointing out everyone's flaws (mine).
First Step - Keep My Tongue From Evil
Since I now work from home, that's usually not a problem unless someone calls on the phone or my husband comes home. Then the mouth opens - then there's opportunity for all sorts of things mentioned in James 3. Sadly, keeping it shut all the time isn't really an option, as I'm far beyond hope for a Reformed nunnery.
Second Step - Keep My Lips From Deceitful Speech
This step was more of a poser. It's not as broad, and I'm really not sure that my habit of half-truthing it is really acceptable in the Lord's sight. Apparently, He's a little more keen on me keeping away from both active and underhanded evil, which brings up the third point: turning from evil.
Third Step - Turn From Evil
When I first started crawling toward the cross with real intent - not because it would get me points with the parents - I thought I was doing pretty well to just not do what I'd done before. Perhaps my former lifestyle (I Peter 5) wasn't carousing and orgies (unless you can count rebelliously reading until 3 a.m.) but I wasn't really old enough for that, plus our social circles didn't really offer those opportunities. My introvert orgies were sneaky and secretive and all on the inside. Combine that with a lack of desire to confess sin and ask for help, and these habits can become lethal - especially if you have a habit towards building up pride via knowledge.
Fourth Step - Do Good
A good illustration might be the difference between toddler faith and teenager faith. It's not just enough to walk away from evil, there's the replacement factor of turning from stealing to giving, turning from gossiping to becoming compassionate and service-oriented, turning from lying to telling salty truth with grace.
Fifth Step - Seek Peace
Sure, who doesn't want peace? Well, people who like the noise and pride of life and indulging in orgies - and introverts who want peace on their own terms with no one around to mess it up. Really, it's just a party of one gone mad. If you haven't been in a habit of turning your feet from evil and then doing good - which necessarily involved other people - then peace will be really hard to find. Real peace necessitates communion with the Peace-Giver. (Now I sound like Max Lucado.)
Sixth Step - Pursue Peace
If peace were a deer, you'd have to quietly and slowly stalk it through the underbrush, learning how to place your feet just so (on the right path), and move in rhythm with the surrounding area, so that you won't scare off the Peace Hart. Mature believers are quite serious and focused when they want something, they know how to quietly and doggedly pursue. It's toddlers and teenagers that crash around a lot more, drowning out peace with excitement and discoveries. A really good hunter, or pursuer, will sometimes run and sometimes walk, but never turn aside until the prize is won.
That's where I want to be.