The Promise Of Peace.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:7
Paul closes out his letter to the Philippians detailing simple instructions which promise to provide peace in the heart of the believer. Paul writes these words while he is incarcerated. This leaves little doubt as to whether Paul was putting this practice to use himself. Even under the threat of death by Rome, Paul understood how to experience peace from the Lord.
In this day and age, trials of the heart will abound. If the last several years have been any indication of what the future holds, then every believer will need to know how to secure peace of mind and heart as we journey toward the return of Christ. Perilous times are sure to come.
There are three basic instructions that I’d like to cover—instructions given in Philippians 4:4-6, respectively. If we follow Paul’s instructions, I am sure that we too will experience God’s promise of peace that passes all understanding.
The Exhortation To Rejoice
In Philippians 4:4, Paul tells the believer that rejoicing should be never-ending. Our reason for rejoicing is the fact that we are “in the Lord.” This would indicate that we are saved, our names are written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and that God’s continual presence in our lives is guaranteed. The believer does not rejoice because of trials. He doesn’t rejoice in a vain effort to work up the emotion of joy. Instead, the believer rejoices because of knowledge of who he is “in Christ.”
Diverse circumstances will come and go. The one constant in our lives is the knowledge that we are right with God, we are at peace with God, and that God is always working behind the scenes on our behalf. If I truly believe this, then there will always be a reason to rejoice, regardless of circumstances. Paul exhorts the believer to put on the garment of praise whenever a spirit of heaviness attempts to attach itself to the heart and mind.
Treatment Of Others
In Philippians 4:5, Paul speaks of the need for moderation. This word may have been better translated as gentleness. When life gets difficult there are people around us who travel through the battle alongside us.
Sadly, when stress rises, we tend to strike out at the ones we are close too. When undergoing stressful circumstances, our emotions and minds are stretched extremely thin. Small situations that would normally fail to produce a negative reaction may now bring out the worst in us. It seems that we are usually most comfortable blasting out our emotions upon people we love most.
Faith in God’s ability to handle our situation is the only cure for this dilemma. When we are under stressful situations, we must be careful how we treat other people. The goal should always be to treat others gently, in the same manner and with the same loving mercy that God has extended toward us. To allow your spirit to react poorly under pressure will only exacerbate the problem at hand. Bear in mind that the Lord is with you and He is watching your response to the present difficulty. This too is a part of the test that we must learn to pass.
The Exhortation To Pray
Prayer is spoken of as the third instruction in verse six. Prayer is not something that should be foreign to the believer. Neither should it be our practice to pray only when difficulties come. Prayer is an individual act of faith. We pray to a God that we cannot see who we believe will be able to help us with the situation at hand. Paul exhorts us to pray and pray earnestly, and to include thanksgiving.
The believer should establish a time frame daily where he communes with God in prayer. This prayer life may take on different forms. But at its core there should be praise, inquiries, requests, and a heart that listens to what God has to say in response. If one is having a difficult time hearing God speak, a daily time of reading God’s Word can oftentimes provide the opportunity for God to make His voice clear.
I can’t tell you the numerous times that I have asked God to help me in a current dilemma or situation, only to have Him direct me through His Word as I read it a short time later. Don’t ever hesitate to go in prayer to God. He wants to hear from you. He wants to hear how you feel and what you think. The knowledge that we have a God who cares, hears, and acts on our behalf brings tremendous benefit to those who have been emotionally upset by trials of life.
Peace That Passes Understanding
Time and space do not allow me to give examples from my own life of experiencing God’s peace. Yet I promise you, they abound! There is no mental means by which we can grasp the experience of peace. But we will recognize it when it comes.
God’s peace can overwhelm a disturbed spirit like a hot bath eliminates the chills. This peace will eliminate present worry, even in view of the troubles that had previously disturbed and upset our hearts. God is able to set a spiritual guard around the heart and mind of every believer who travels through the above stated processes. It makes no sense at all as to how it comes about; to be honest, we should be worried. But God has promised us that He will deal with our situations.
As we keep our hearts and minds focused on His ability, His warm blanket of peace can both guard and settle the soul that has been emotionally distraught. There is no explaining the peace that God gives. But I guarantee that if you will trust Him and depend on Him that you will experience this peace, which passes all understanding.