Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
ACROSS the meadow from where I live there is a pool. It is a place of peace. No fish ever breaks the water’s surface; no bird ever disturbs the reeds. Across the pool’s surface there is a layer of thin green weed. There is peace here—it is the peace of stagnation. It is the peace of death.
Life can be like this. It is possible to be detached from the things which cause stress and strain. To be free from anxiety because you ignore the cares of life. You will never be upset by other people’s problems if you are not aware of them. You will not be saddened by the injustices in the world if you are not interested in them. This is a peaceful life—but it is the peace of stagnation.
The peace of God is different. Consider this, from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Colosse:
Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful (Colossians 3:14–15).
“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts”. It’s thought that when he wrote this letter Paul was in prison in Rome, daily and hourly expecting a violent death. This was a time of persecution and difficulty for believers. The letter to the Colossians abounds with earnest pleas, instructions and warnings. This tells us something fundamental about the peace of God: it is unaffected by outside circumstances. You do not have to be leading a quiet life to have it. It is an internal condition, a heart condition.
Peace Through Christ
What is the key to this state of mind? In the first chapter of this letter Paul tells us:
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight (Colossians 1:21–22).
Jesus died to reconcile us to God, to bring us into harmony with Him. If we are baptised and become part of God’s family, we are in harmony with God. Is there anything more positive than this? We are at peace with God.
I must tell you that I cannot fathom it. I know about the awful discord in my heart, and in the world around me. I know I have sinned against God and I am afraid of Him. I know how hopeless I am. Then I consider what Jesus Christ has done for me, and it defies analysis, it transcends explanation. I can only tell you this—I am no longer afraid. My sin has been cancelled.
The Example of Christ
Think for a moment of the Lord Jesus himself, and the peace that was in his heart. Think of him standing trial for his life before the Roman governor Pilate. (You can read the account in John chapter 18 from verse 28.) Of the two men, Pilate and Jesus, who do you think had real peace? Jesus going to his death or Pilate going to his breakfast? Pilate was a man whose mind was in a turmoil and whose conscience was tearing him apart. Jesus is presented before us as serene and composed. There was a “joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) of which Pilate knew nothing.
Jesus could have evaded his execution, and gained peace for himself. But that would have been the peace of stagnation. Instead he faced life and death with all their reality; he met sin face to face—met and defied and mastered it. And there was peace in his heart.
Jesus once said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33).
There is many a man who would give you a cheque for £10,000 if you could give him peace. But the peace of God is ours if we will accept it. In times of hardship and adversity it calms your spirit. It illuminates every dark cloud; it soothes every bereaved heart. When men’s hearts are failing them for fear it will keep you steady.
And it is all true because the Son of God made peace through shedding his blood on the cross.
Put On Love
Let’s return to that passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians chapter 3. Look at verse 14: “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” The Greek word which is translated ‘bond’ is used of the ligaments of the body. The ligaments hold the body together and enable it to work properly.
I believe that the proportion in which love is in our hearts, dominating, flourishing, mastering, is the proportion in which we shall have the peace of God. Peace is love’s confidence.
When love is the sentinel in our heart we shall always be on duty, never say or do anything to hurt our fellow, always forgive what is done to us, never fail in the integrity of our relationships.
Let Peace Rule
Our passage says in verse 15: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
The Greek word translated ‘rule’ here occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The best meaning we can give to it is to ‘preside’—like a judge over a court or a chairman at a meeting. A judge or chairman keeps order, and prevents opposing forces causing disorder. They will not allow anyone else to take charge or disrupt the proceedings.
So, says the Apostle, is peace. It will rule in your heart. It will keep all things in their right place. It will ensure that the right priorities are instituted. It will not permit ungodly things to ascend the throne in your heart.
This does not mean that if we have the peace of God in our heart we will not have any difficulties or be free from anxiety; that we will not be worried or upset or have hard things to do or painful things to endure. We will still be concerned about things, and that is right—to be indifferent when things go wrong would be a sin. But when we have peace in our heart, worry and concern will be in their proper place. Peace will rule.
Peace to Come
One day the Kingdom of God will come. And then the peace of God will roll across the sin-laden, fear-filled, war-weary continents of the world. And the person who has the peace of God in their heart—small atoms though we be, an infinitesimal part of the universe—will be in harmony with that peace, in harmony with the order of a redeemed and peace-mastered world.
In the Kingdom of God peace will be fulfilled. When peace reigns on the earth you will see beauty you have never imagined. We have hardly begun to realise the wonders of this planet.
The Kingdom will be given to those who have sought for it, those who have striven for peace in their lives here and now. And remember that the best and only place to find it is at the cross, where Christ made peace through the shedding of his blood.