Summary: The peace that makes our hearts kind and gentle, the peace that overcomes worry, and the peace that protects us from our own fleshly failings and the devil’s lies.
What an experience it must have been to be in the Old Testament Church. There you are in the Temple. Gold sparkles in the sun. Finely polished wood enamors the eye. Rich tapestries, exquisite engravings, and flawlessly hewn stone make up the Temple of God.
And just as memorable must have been the sacrifices offered within. Occasionally you would see and take in the incense wafting up into heaven and the smell of roasted lamb from the morning and evening sacrifices. What vivid reminders God gave to show that real forgiveness was being given for the sins of the people.
But those sacrifices of old did not forgive sins in and of themselves. They only forgave sins because they pointed forward to THE sacrifice of sins that Jesus would one day make on Golgotha’s stony slope.
And so God’s old-covenant people lived in hope. It was a hope that looked forward to the day when the Savior, the Messiah, would come and fulfill all the sacrifices they saw, felt, smelled, and experienced in the Temple.
But we, too, in the new covenant also live in hope. We live in hope, knowing the same Savior who once came to take away sins, will come back and take us to Himself in heaven. Jesus has already fulfilled the ancient hope, for He came and atoned for sins. Now He will come yet once more and bring all believers into His eternal kingdom.
Jesus wants us to live, eagerly looking forward to that moment. We are to believe and trust that Jesus is, indeed, coming, and that truth will bring us the peace and joy to live out the faith and keep us in His heavenly kingdom.
Our epistle reading tells us, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” That word “reasonableness” doesn’t fully give us the richness of what the Apostle Paul was getting at. When we think of reasonableness, we think of not going to extremes, of taking the middle road. But that’s not the idea here. That’s because one word in English can’t carry the richness of what Paul was getting at.
What then was Paul getting at? He meant gentleness, consideration, the opposite of being stern and overly harsh. He meant being gentle, kind, patient, and yielding to others. Psalm 103 describes this trait well: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14).
That’s the love we are to show and live toward others--to friend and foe alike, especially to the weak and helpless. We are to be kind, generous, and thoughtful, not selfish, rough, or pushy.
But it’s one thing knowing that we should live such love toward others; it’s another to create it. The Law says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). But here’s the problem: the Law can’t make you love your neighbor; it can at most only change outward behavior. It can only threaten and punish you for not doing it.