For this exhortation to work, the troubled person must have Jesus Christ in their heart in the first place. He does not rule anything that is not given to Him, nor can His peace take charge. However, just because He is present does not mean believers are automatically at peace all the time. Christians are just as capable of worry, fretting and anxiety as anyone else.
But we have this amazing resource. The peace of Christ is that incredible sense that God is in control, so that no matter what is happening, we do not need to be upset or anxious about it. If that is not happening, the passage where this verse comes from gives some tips on how to experience that peace that only Jesus can give.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12–17)
From this verse, I get these instructions. 1) Behave myself as a Christian ought to. Like His peace, doing so requires Christ in my heart, but also yielding to Him. I cannot run my own life. Whenever I try it and get in trouble (inevitable), I need to confess what I have done and ask Him to forgive me and fill me again with His Spirit. This is the only way to be kind, humble, meek, patient and so on.
2) Note also some of these qualities are passive or responses to others, but the passage also says to love others. That is an active verb. It requires that I do something and almost always involves a sacrifice. In other words, instead of being upset about my situation or feeling sorry for myself, love gets off that and thinks about the needs and situations of others. Love also does what it can to come to their aid.
3) Perhaps the biggest part of letting the peace of Jesus rule is being thankful. Thankfulness says that I know God is supplying all that I need. This certainty comes from a rich experience in the Word of God. From the Bible, I can hear Him speak. He makes promises and gives instruction. Without the Word, I would not know all the reasons I have for being thankful or know that He is working all things together for my good. As Romans 8:28-29 says, that good is the fact He uses all things to shape me into the image of His Son, even the troubles in life. When I know that and am thankful for it, peace rushes in like a river and rules my heart. It even fills me with a song!
4) Note also the “togetherness” in this passage. Fellowship with others is important to peace as Christians remind one another of the goodness of God. If I stay alone in my sorrows, they grow into giants. Others in the body of Christ help me look at life from God’s perspective and this produces peace.
5) But there is one more important phrase in this passage. It says that whatever I do, I do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. That means that love, thankfulness, fellowship, and all else is for His glory, not mine. I cannot go through this list and perform its instructions for myself only. His peace, while I enjoy it, is not the goal of living as I should. The goal is not an easy life for Elsie but the glory of God.
Father, when Your Spirit rules my life, I enjoy the peace and joy that You produce in my heart, but I know this is not merely to make me happy and worry-free. You do it so that I may honor You and lift up Your name. Grant this day that I speak and act in Your name, giving You glory. May I be thankful for all that You do and all that I experience, even for the troubles that might come my way, for in them, You are still at work for my good and Your glory.