Yesterday we looked at the solution for anxiety: “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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
Today, I want to look further into what it means for the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Those who choose prayer and trust during times of anxiety will experience the “peace of God”. When by faith we choose to believe and follow Jesus, we have peace with God, but we don’t have necessarily have the peace of God.
We can have the peace of God if we choose (and yes it is a choice) to worship God no matter our temporary circumstances here on earth, and to be thankful for all He has and will do. Will we allow the circumstances and the father of lies to rule in our hearts, or will we “let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Col 3:15).
This peace offers three important positives. First, God’s peace is supernatural and unexplainable. It is truly amazing how God can and will respond during times of difficulty. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Is 26:3).
Second, God’s peace “will guard our hearts”. The heart was seen as something to protect at all costs, since it influenced all of life (Prov 4:23). If God is peace, then to know God is to bask in His peace. The closer we draw to Him, the more of His peace we can enjoy (James 4:8). God gives us clear instructions about how to draw near to Him: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Ps 24:3-4)
Scripture is also clear that we cannot make ourselves clean enough or pure enough to earn the presence of the Lord (Rom 3:23). So how do we draw near enough to experience His peace? Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). We can only come into the presence of the Father through His Son (John 14:6). When we allow Jesus’ death and resurrection to purchase our forgiveness from God, we are counted as righteous (2 Cor 5:21). Our sins are forgiven because Jesus already paid the price for them. Only then can we have peace with God (Rom 5:1).
Third, God’s peace will guard “your minds in Christ Jesus”, which is connected with love for God and others (Matt 22:37-40). Living in peace can be compared to the petals of a flower unfolding in the morning sunlight. The petals of peace in our lives unfold as we learn more about God. We discover that His character is always faithful. We experience His continual goodness. We read more of His promises (Ps 115:11). We learn to bask in His overwhelming love for us (Rom 8:38–39). We refuse to allow ever-changing circumstances to determine our level of contentment, relying instead upon the character of God that never changes (Mal 3:6).
When we develop a lifestyle of making the Lord our refuge, we begin to live in the peace of God (Ps 46:1).The secret to living in the peace of God is dwelling or abiding in Him: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.'” (Ps 91:1-2)
That secret place in our hearts is where we go to meet with God. When we choose to live there and hide away under His shadow, staying in constant communion with Him, we can remain peaceful, even when circumstances may not be. When we learn to cry out to Him in times of trouble, we find that His peace really does pass all human understanding (Phil 4:7).