Recently a college student came with a question that troubled him. “Some of the finest people I know are not Christians. They openly spurn the Bible. Yet they seem to be happy and get along well with other people. Some of the leading people in our church are much harder to get along with and do not appear to be as happy as those who are not Christians. If God’s way is the only way to peace, then why are these non-Christians peaceful and these Christians not?”
That’s a good question. It brings out the point made in the previous chapter, that one’s conduct does have an impact on others. This young man’s faith was being shaken by the conduct of professing Christians. According to his observations, it did not seem to matter if he did not place his faith in Christ and God’s Word.
His observations were correct, but you can become confused by observing others. The Bible says: “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
As a counselor, I see many people who are woefully unhappy individuals but who never give any outward indication of it. A man’s outward behavior does not always give a measure of what is going on inside him. God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). We should be careful about making judgments based on the success or lack of success of others. Paul said: “Let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13).
Whom Will You Trust?
Where will you place your faith? In the conduct of a man? In the words or writings of some individual? Or in God and His Word? You must make this choice alone and then face the ceaseless temptations to change your choice.
Remember the definition offered earlier: You face a choice in which the wrong action is so seductive, so plausible, so pleasurable that it takes a conscious act of will to reject it. In the college student’s case, when questions arose about the conduct of Christians and their adjustment to life, it seemed reasonable to turn away from the Bible and to take the viewpoint followed by those who appeared happier. This young man had to make his choice.
Now it is our privilege to “tempt” you with our viewpoint. It is that we have found, and have helped others find, that the Bible is your sure guide to peace.
We have discovered that the man who violates biblical principles will be unhappy, whether he appears to be or not, just as the man who disobeys the rules of health will be sick, whether he looks it or not. We say this by faith. But we say it by experience too. The unhappy, tense, anxious, miserable person who comes to a counselor for help is usually knowingly or unknowingly violating some biblical principle.
How do you approach the God who can give you inner peace? “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Also, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
You must approach God by faith. You must trust Him fully, with your mind set on Him and His ways. “You [God] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Jehovah, the Lord, is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:3-4).
As you trust God, He will give you assurance that you are on the right path. But trials, troubles, conflicts, other viewpoints, unexpected failures (on your part and on the part of people you admire) will challenge your evidence and throw you back on faith alone. A combination of faith and temptation will make your choice of the Bible as your guide a difficult one to maintain.