And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This is not a wish or prayer, like the benediction of 2 Thessalonians 3:16; nor a precept like Colossians 3:15; but is one of the exceeding great and precious promises. The world is weary for peace; the army after a long campaign, the country bearing the burden of a protracted war, longs for peace; but not more earnestly than men tossed on the waves of this troublesome world. This blessing is for the spirit satiated with the vain pleasures of the world; for the spirit tried with sorrow; for the Pharisee tormented with the incumbrances of his over righteousness; for the publican standing on the threshold.
I. ITS SOURCE.
1. It originates with Him. Man by sin has placed himself in antagonism to God. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." The transgression and enmity were ours, yet God devised means whereby the banished might be restored, and sends to rebels the ambassadors of peace. It was not from man the sinner that the overtures were made.
2. It has reference to Him. It is not only peace from, but with, God. The ambassadors are sent to proclaim that God has devised the means, has made peace. It is no imaginary reconciliation; it is a peace wrought by real means, purchased at a real price — the blood of the Son of God (Colossians 2:14). And when the sentence of condemnation is blotted out there is no condemnation to those who believe (Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1). This act is the foundation of all peace in the heart. It is a peace which the world can neither give nor take away.
II. ITS CHARACTER. It passeth understanding because —
1. Man unaided cannot attain to it. There are many voices which cry to man of pleasure and rest. But they are delusive. "Peace," they cry, when there is no peace. Wherever sin is there is unrest. There is no peace to the wicked. They "are like the troubled sea which cannot rest," continually straining after some haven of repose, but only to be cast back by the waves of passion. And not only cannot the sinner, unaided, attain this peace; he cannot, unaided, even receive it when provided for him. The things which belong to his peace are hidden from him. But this does not make void his responsibility. God hath revealed it by His Spirit, whom He gives to those who ask for Him.
2. There are depths in it which the richest Christian experience cannot fathom. There are mysteries in grace as well as in nature and providence. The source of this peace is God, and its guarantee the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. All the gifts of God are inexhaustible.
III. ITS EFFECT — "Shall guard." Our hearts and minds are in need of continual guardianship, and where shall we meet with one more reliable?
1. It can keep our hearts. We understand by the heart the source of the affections and passions; but not unfrequently the inspired writers use the word to signify the affections and understanding acting together. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." The affections are apt to stray from their centre. There is a fatal affinity between the evil within and the evil without. "Keep thy heart with all diligence," etc. It needs a strong power to watch over it, but the peace of God is equal to this. There is a strength in it to stay your stray reflections; for it gives you in your heart something on which your love may centre. The lustre of the ballroom and the gaudy trappings of the stage looks tawdry in the daylight; and the loves of the earth look tinsel indeed in the light of a Saviour's love and the brightness of the peace of God.
2. The mind. That is prone to be carried off by merely speculative problems. The peace of God keeps the mind not by enslaving its faculties or starving their energy, but by rightly balancing them. By giving us a clear conception of the relative values of things temporal and eternal, by revealing the due order which presides over all God's works, we are taught to estimate aright the true value of speculative and practical problems.
3. Both the heart and mind are kept. In some natures the thinking faculty is the most active: such are in danger of neglecting the keeping of the heart — the spirit of devotion. Others are exposed to the reverse temptation. To neglect either is injurious. Let us give to each its sustenance; storing our minds with Divine truth and yet increasing in love and grace.
IV. THE CHANNEL THROUGH WHICH IT COMES. There is no blessing which comes not through Him — in nature, Providence, salvation. He is our peace.
(Bp. W. Boyd Carpenter.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.