And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.
St. Paul is not exactly desiring that the peace of Christ may have a large place in the hearts of his readers, that it may be unfettered and dominant, that it may govern all the affections and passions of the soul, as the translation in our Authorized Version would lead us to read his words, and as they are commonly quoted. Instead of the word "rule" we should read "arbitrate." The apostle would have this peace arbitrating among the conflicting claims of various interests and the mutually opposing forces of various thoughts and feelings. In fact, it is to be an umpire.
I. WE NEED AN UMPIRE IN OUR HEARTS. The conditions of our troublesome inner life prove this necessity.
1. The war of passions. Earthly desire fights against heavenly aspiration, bodily appetite against spiritual hunger, selfish greed against generous love, wild passion against pure emotion.
2. The conflict of claims. Public claims conflict with private claims. Future interests do not agree with temporary advantages. We are drawn hither and thither by cross attractions, confused by a babel of contradictory voices, urged by the force of a tempest of impulses.
3. The distraction of doubts. Our thoughts will not harmonize. One idea clashes with another. We hear no music of the spheres in the circling doubts of our troubled minds. We need an umpire to help us to discover what are true among so many prophet voices.
II. PEACE IS THE UMPIRE SEEDED BY OUR HEARTS. When we possess our souls in quietness we are able to see the right and the truly desirable as we never can while we are distracted by exciting influences.
1. Peace arbitrates between the passions. Like a runaway horse who has taken the bit in his teeth and rushes on blindly to destruction, passion sees nothing, and the soul possessed by passion wrecks its highest interests. We must be calm to know what feelings may be indulged and what must be curbed.
2. Peace arbitrates between conflicting claims. When all claimants shout together it is impossible to discover the rights of any. There must be quiet in the court of justice. There must be quiet in the soul, that a calm consideration of apparently opposed duties and interests may be made.
3. Peace arbitrates between distracting thoughts. While the storm rages the sea is turbid. The waters must be calm if we are to look down to the pearls that may lie in their depths. We must think quietly if we would think truly.
III. IS CHRIST WE FIND THE PEACE WHICH WILL BE THE UMPIRE NEEDED BY OUR SOULS. It is vain simply to exhort the heart to beat more calmly. The very effort to do so only increases the perturbation. It would be cruel mockery for a man to say to one in distress and tumult, "Let peace arbitrate in your heart." You may as well command the wild waves of the sea to hush themselves to rest.
1. Christ gives peace. He who said, "Peace, be still!" to the waters and there was a great calm, speaks peace to the troubled soul: "Come unto me,... and I will give you rest."
2. Christ gives his own peace. The peace of Christ is that which dwells in him. As he desired that his joy might be in his disciples, so he also blessed them by leaving his own peace as a legacy when he departed. "My peace I give unto you" (John 14:27). Nothing is more wonderful, nothing is more beautiful, than the calmness of Jesus among the storms of human foes and diabolical temptations that beat upon him. Like the steady beams of the lighthouse shining calmly over a wild waste of howling waters, Christ, the Light of the world, shone in quietness of soul over all storms and tumults. Now he gives this his peace to his people. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.