The Fruit of the Spirit (Part 4)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:23-25).
Peace is a universal desire of mankind. Politicians and activists talk about it endlessly. Psychologists write books about it. Leagues of nations set policies designed to foster world peace. Despite our best efforts, peace never seems to come.
War will continue. Matthew 24:6 says that there will always be wars and rumor of wars. Lloyd Cory said, “Peace is that brief glorious moment when everybody reloads.” The Society of International Law states that during the last 4,000 years there have been only 268 years of world peace.
Poverty will continue. Social justice will never come, no matter which party is in power. Jesus says in Matthew 26:11, “the poor you have with you always.” Neighborhoods will never be free of cries and violence, nor free of the sounds of gunshots and sirens and foul language blared over loudspeakers. Mankind will never be free of disease, injury, controversy.
The church offers no shelter from unrest, for persecution will find those who are at peace with God and themselves. Jesus says in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
There can be no peace on earth because sin will always mess it up. Human peace—not on a large scale between nations, nor on a small scale between individuals—will never be achieved. As long as there are sinners, there will be a lack of peace. God says in Isaiah 57:20-21, “the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.”
If man’s great efforts to achieve peace has failed, what hope is there that anyone can have it? The peace the Bible speaks about is not the “peace of mind” everyone craves. Peace is not to be found in worldly pursuits. Jesus says in John 16:33, “these things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
The Bible says a lot about peace. God is called “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33). Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The gospel is called “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). How can anyone hope to claim it in this sin-tossed world? This peace comes from God, by reconciliation through Jesus Christ. On the day Jesus was born into the world, angels announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14). How did Jesus secure it? Colossians 1:19-20 says, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” The gospel, the fix for sin, brings peace to the hearts of mankind.
It is said that when Jesus left the world, he made out His will, so to speak. His clothes went to the soldiers. His body went to Joseph of Arimathea. His mother He entrusted to John the Apostle. His soul He committed to His Father. But his peace He gave to His disciples. Jesus promised in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Peace is therefore something not which man achieves, but which man receives, as a result of his relationship with God.
A Christian should display the fruit of peace daily. Or as Colossians 3:15 says, “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Peace has nothing to do with circumstances! “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). Christian peace, therefore, is a peace that transcends trouble and shines like a beacon. Maybe one of the best examples of peace in the midst of storm is Jesus’ tranquility on Galilee (Mark 4:35-41). Paul also displayed this peace: while his ship was “violently storm-tossed” (Acts 27:18) he comforted and encouraged everyone on board.
Take seriously Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:6-7, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Don’t be wracked or paralyzed with worry. God gave us Christ, certainly He looks out for our good. Communicate with God through prayer. Be thankful. Focus on the good stuff, count blessings. Let those around you notice your calm resolve in the face of unsure times and circumstances.
Christians ought to be at peace with one another. Paul says in Ephesians 4:1-3, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Members of a congregation that can’t get along have not yet learned the fruit of the Spirit, and don’t advertise Christ to the world very well.
Christians should show peace and tranquility to a chaotic world ready to fight. “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18).
-- John Guzzetta