"Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil, but those who counsel peace have joy." Proverbs 12:20
Joy seems to have a special meaning in the vernacular language of Scotland. When one comes out of a job interview, a friend will ask, “Did you have joy?” It has the connotation of flourishing. It has an almost spiritual meaning. When you have joy, you flourish.
But one cannot flourish while planning evil. For such thinking chases away any hope for joy. In other words, there is no peace in the hearts of those who continuously plan and do deceitful things — dare I bring up church parking lot meetings without the pastor, gossiping on the phone or spreading hateful words on social media? These are the very things that are destructive to the community as well as the body of Christ.
In the church, we work for peace. We desire joy. And yet, there is always the risk of deceit in our hearts to crowd out joy which stops us from flourishing, which robs us of peace. It is the peace of our Lord Jesus that should be at the core of everything we think, say and do.
Lord God, in this time of Lent, make sure that all our thoughts, prayers and actions are of peace rather than personal deceits. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.