And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NASB
Christians long for and seek after the peace of God. It’s amazing when we experience it – a peculiar comfort and lack of worry about something that would otherwise be shaking us to the core. Yet, we just know it’s going to be okay. Other times this peace is elusive, and if we’re not careful it can take over our thoughts and dominate our lives in very unhealthy ways. So how can we hold onto a lasting peace from God that surpasses all comprehension?
Today’s verse is really a continuation of the thought we find in Philippians 4:5-6, so let’s put it all together so we can soak up what the Apostle Paul was telling his readers:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:5-7)
We’ve exposited these verses individually, but put back together we can see the message Paul wrote to this church is just as valid today as it was almost 2,000 years ago. There are four takeaways we must consider as we seek after the promise found in verse 7.
The first is to rejoice in the Lord always. If we aren’t joyful even in hard times, we certainly cannot expect to find peace from God. Rejoicing is an intentional action on our part.
The second is to be humble and gentle to everyone. Raging in anger is the antithesis of peace and is a poor witness of our faith, so we need to stay in control.
The third is to be anxious for nothing. If we allow worry to take over our thought life, we really aren’t giving God any space to provide comfort because we are trying to fix things ourselves. We have to release worry and give over our troubles to God’s sovereign control.
And finally, we are to pray and then pray again, and to do so with thanksgiving. We’re commanded to pray with a grateful heart, knowing that God hears us (cf: 1 John 5:15).
Looking at it this way, it’s almost like Paul gave us a simple four-step program to have the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension. Be joyful, humble, don’t worry, and pray with thanksgiving. If we do each of these, is there room for stress, worry, and anxiety? No. And the result is that we gain an incredible peace from God because we are putting our lives in the trustworthy hands of our Creator.
But there’s even more to the promise in this verse. When we live in this manner, we not only gain a supernatural peace from God, but this peace will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus.
What does Paul mean by guard? This word is from the Greek phrouros and means to protect, keep in custody, or guard for safety. Considering this, when we exercise our faith in these four areas – joy, self-control, prayer, and gratitude – we gain greater confidence in our salvation, which is a peace that certainly surpasses any problem this world can through at us.
Peter spoke on this in the beautiful opening to his first epistle, where he wrote:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected (phrouros) by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NASB
If we believe that God the Father, through Christ, can protect and maintain our salvation, shouldn’t this give us the utmost confidence that He can also handle everything else we face? Yes, and this is truly the peace of God!
Life will have plenty of challenges, and in seasons will be tested and face various trials (cf: Hebrews 12:6, James 1:2, 1 Peter 1:6). But our true, lasting peace lies in the hope of spending eternity with God and His blessed Son, Jesus Christ. We must keep our eyes fixed upward on Christ and not downward on our worldly problems. The latter will pass away over time, but it is in Christ where our hope, peace, joy, and faith abide.
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