at the Water's Edge


Living life and learning all I can along the way!

The Fruit of the Spirit - PEACE

Our bible study group has decided to take some time to look at the so-called “fruit of the spirit” as listed in the book of Galatians – and to study each one of these fruits, evaluating the prevalence of each in our own lives.  I hope to be able to share parts of my study and reflections here, as we go through each of the topics.

This time we are looking at the concept of peace.

Peace is called a “fruit of the Spirit” – meaning that somebody who is living a life God’s way, by his Spirit, should have a life characterized by peace.  You should be able to sense and feel peace in the life of the Christian.  There are a lot of different ways I could look at the concept of peace, but I want to look at a two-fold idea that I think encompasses peace as a fruit of the Spirit.

Firstly, though, let me touch briefly on the idea of our peace with God.  We are all sinners (Romans 3:23).  We have all done something wrong or failed to do something right.  If you’re anything like me, it happens a lot.  Because “the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)” – God intervened and sent his Son to die the death that we deserved so that we could instead have the life that we do not deserve.  The prophet Isaiah spoke about this before it even happened, saying:

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5

Paul also speaks of our reconciliation to God and the peace which Christ brought:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. – Romans 5:1-2

So firstly, we must have peace with God, by accepting the sacrificial death of Jesus as atonement for our sins.  Secondly, I think part of continuing in sanctification and growing in our relationship with God includes living a life that reflects who God wants us to be – as exemplified in Jesus, and also as expressed in Galatians as the so-called “fruit of the Spirit.”  So how can we live a life of peace?  What does it mean to have peace in our lives?

I think there are two main areas in our lives where we can show that we have peace, and I will call them “peace without” and “peace within”. 

Peace Without
What I mean by “peace without” is essentially peace with others.  Peaceable interactions with other people and relationships that are not tainted with anger, resentment or hostility.  The bible is clear that keeping the peace in our relationships is essential and should be one of our top priorities.  When Jesus was giving his famed “Sermon on the Mount” he talked about the importance of keeping the peace in this way:

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23-24

Offering gifts on the altar of the temple was the way that people made peace with God before Jesus’ death.  But here, Jesus tells us that before we can be right with God, we need to be reconciled to one another.  Go, and make peace with your brother.  Then you can truly have peace with God.

To me, one of the most striking verses in the Bible about peace is the following:

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. -- Psalm 34:14

I think the reason I find this so profound is that I tend to think of peace as something passive.  I’m naturally inclined to avoid conflict.  But I deceive myself if I think that sitting back, being passive, nigh complacent, is what God meant by living a life of peace.  To seek and pursue peace implies action.  What does it look like to actively seek out and pursue peace in your life?  I think it means that we are to look for ways to restore relationships and bring reconciliation.  We are commanded, as Christians, to put forth effort to keep the peace and quell hostility.  Paul says this in both his letter to the church in Rome and the church in Ephesus:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. -- Romans 12:18

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  -- Ephesians 4:3

There may be some things beyond our control, but we are to do everything in our power to make and keep the peace – I think, particularly among the Christian community.  How can we have peaceable relationships with the world if we can’t even do it amongst ourselves?

Paul also warns the young pastor, Timothy, and urges him to pursue peace and to avoid foolish quarrels:

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. --2 Timothy 2:22-23

When we pursue peace, I believe others can recognize that as a “fruit of the Spirit” – or as something in ourselves that is different from other people.  Peaceable people can create an environment of peace around them.  Consider this proverb:

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. -- Proverbs 16:7

Jesus also encouraged the pursuit of peace in his “Beatitudes,” saying:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. -- Matthew 5:9


Peace within

It’s obvious that we are called to live peaceably with others.  However, I think there’s another kind of peace that should reign in the life of the Christian, and that I will call “peace within.”  What I mean by this is a sense of calmness within your spirit; contentment; the absence of worry or anxiety.

Jesus encourages his disciples to have peace, even though things may not always being going well.  Just like joy, we can pursue peace within our own hearts despite our circumstances.  Jesus heartens us with these words:

Peace is what I leave with you.  I do not give it as the world does.  Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. -- John 14:27

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. --John 16:33

So what do you do when life has you worried and anxious?  How do you go about pursuing that internal sense of peace?  Paul gives us a great answer in his letter to the Philippians:

Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.  And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus --Philippians 4:6-7

I think when we remember that God is sovereign, that He is “over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6),” we can set our hearts at ease knowing that he will take care of our needs – all we need to do is ask him.

Paul also encourages the church at Colossae similarly, saying:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful. -- Colossians 3:15

Furthermore, in Peter’s first letter, he tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).”  We have no need to live in worry or fear, because we know that God is with us.  Jesus himself says it this way:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. –Matthew 6:25-34

When we trust in God to provide for us, instead of turning to useless worry, we can begin to be at peace.  The prophet Isaiah says:

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you --Isaiah 26:3

As always, God is the source of our “fruit” and He will grant peace to those who seek it.  True peace comes from God alone.  This much I know:

When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace; you alone, O Lord, keep me perfectly safe.  –Psalm 4:8

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ABOUTME

Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Happy Gilmore. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!

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