“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
-Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
Hello readers, and welcome to part four of my series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit! I apologize for the long absence; there are a lot of changes happening in my life right now, and I’ve been taking some time to relax and adjust.
Today I want to write about peace, the third Fruit of the Spirit. The word peace has many meanings. Used as an attribute to describe somebody, it can mean that a person is at peace, as in not afraid, anxious, or worried; it can also mean that a person is peaceful in his or her relationships, and not in unnecessary or unresolved conflict with others. Both of these meanings are important. A follower of Christ should be a person of peace, because Jesus was the Prince of Peace.
When you trust in God, it’s probably because you know that he loves you, he is good, and he will provide for all of your needs. It is easy to trust in God when you truly believe these things without a trace of doubt. The trouble, at least for me, is getting rid of that trace of doubt. Doubt is something that I battle with all of the time, probably at least a few times each day. I have to constantly tell my doubt to go away. I know that the devil wants to plant seeds of doubt in my mind so that I don’t experience the full awesomeness that God has in store for me. When I trust God and believe that he has the perfect plan for my life, I will see that plan take effect. But when I doubt God, I allow the enemy to steal that away.
In Mark 11: 23-24 Jesus made a big promise when he said: “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” (NLT). He reminded us that we must believe that we have received what we ask for as we ask it. That is called faith, and that’s what opens up our lives to God’s amazing power.
When we have faith like this, peace follows easily after. The truth is, we can’t always have exactly what we want. Psalm 37:4 says “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (NLT). God isn’t a genie. He is a loving Father who longs to bless us with great gifts. When we seek his will above our own, trust him and find joy and peace in him no matter what our circumstances may be, that’s when he starts to give us the desires of our hearts. Why? Because then, and only then, are the desires of our hearts Godly things that he, as a wise parent, is eager to give us. If the desire of my heart was to be a billionaire, then I wouldn’t be delighting in the Lord; I’d be delighting in money! And God knows that focusing on money cannot lead me to live the best life that I can.
It brings me peace to know that God will enact his plan for my life, not my plan for my life. He has much better foresight than I do, after all! As ironic as it may seem, I am very grateful that God does not always give me what I want, or what I ask for with the wrong motives. I would much rather let him have control. His plan is perfect, plain and simple. Knowing that brings me peace!
Right now, I am waiting to see if Cory and I were approved for a lease on a house that we looked at yesterday. We really, really like this house. It feels perfect for us, and I cannot envision a much better place for us to live. Honestly, I will be disappointed if this is not what God has for us. But I will only be disappointed for a moment, and I will not be anxious or worried. Because if he doesn’t put us in this house, then I know he will put us in an even better one! I can rest, knowing that everything is in God’s capable hands. That, to me, is the essence of peace.
The other aspect of peace is related to our relationships with others. Christians are called to live at peace with each other, whenever possible. Of course, if somebody comes against me because of my beliefs or I am confronted with injustice, it is my duty as a Christian to fight against that. But whenever possible, I am called to make peace and to be peaceful. In Mark 11:25, right after Jesus promises us that we will receive what we ask for in prayer, he reminds us: “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (NLT). We cannot expect God to fill our lives with blessings and the Fruit of the Spirit when we are harboring grudges. Every Christian has been forgiven for their mistakes; how could we dare to not forgive others for theirs? If the perfect God of the universe can forgive us, and anybody else who asks, then surely we can forgive others too.
Luke 6:27 says, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (NIV). We are given a clear command to forgive others and love our enemies, whether or not they apologize or change their ways. That doesn’t mean that we have to put ourselves in the same situation and be hurt again! It just means that we let go of our anger, and let God take care of righting wrongs.
Forgiveness doesn’t just go one way, either. When we do wrong, we need to apologize to those we have hurt. Whether or not they forgive us is up to them, but we need to take that first step to admit to our mistakes. Sometimes, it isn’t even other people who we should seek forgiveness from. Sadly, it seems that we often hold grudges against ourselves. I want to say once and for all that guilt is not from God. Guilt is from the enemy. That nasty little guy wants to make sure you feel like a terrible person, unworthy of love and especially unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness. But that nasty little guy is stupid and wrong. God loves you, no matter what you may have done. He has offered his forgiveness to you, and if you accept it, he will see you as 100% clean and clear. Thank Jesus for that!
Being at peace within ourselves and with others is a Godly calling, something that we should aspire to. None of us are perfect, but we should still strive to be the best that we can out of love for our God. We should be slow to anger. Romans 14:19 tells us to “…pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” If you are a Christian, be an example to others. Don’t be quick to fight. Don’t be that guy or that girl who tries to stir up trouble. Recognize the danger of gossip and hurtful words, and strive to use your words to help and uplift other people. We are called to be peacemakers. What would the world be like if we actually lived that way? I’d like to find out.