Thank you for reading the previous posts on the Fruit of the Spirit (Fruit of the Spirit #1: An Introduction, Fruit of the Spirit #2: It all begins with Love, Part 1, Fruit of the Spirit #3: It all begins with Love, Part 2 and Fruit of the Spirit #4: Joy).
In this post, I’d like to take a brief look at the next Fruit of the Spirit that follows Love and Joy, which is Peace.
More than the absence of strife, Peace (Eirene) is described as tranquility, calm, harmony and “well-being prosperity.” These characteristics are vital to us and others because like the fruit of Love, we benefit internally when we work to develop these qualities of Peace but others also benefit externally when we thoughtfully, deliberately and intentionally practice and share this worthwhile fruit.
As you will read and hear in this post, there have been many people who have beautifully and boldly spoken about the subject and the fruit of Peace. I think they’ve done so because they understand how vital this fruit is to all of God’s creatures, especially to all of His children, the inhabitants of the human race.
In the three sections that follow we’ll hear these different voices elaborate about the significance and benefits of Peace. Let’s listen now.
Section One: Experiencing Peace With God
“Our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you” – Augustine of Hippo (354–430), in Confessions.
“What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” – Job 3:25-26 (TNIV)
I don’t have to convince you about this point. There are many things that bombard our sanity and serenity in life that create discomfort, disturbance, discord, anxiety, terror, strife, guilt and shame within us.
Most of these disturbances that steal our inner peace originate from outside of us and are out of our control but some of the actions have a self-sabotaging component to them and are of our own doing.
Regardless, God would want us to experience internal Peace, and He suggests that a closer and vibrant connection with Him will facilitate the development of this beneficial fruit. Hear what the Psalmist and others have said about experiencing inner Peace because of their connection with God:
“A heart at peace gives life to the body…” – Psalm 14:30 (TNIV)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” – Jesus in John 14:27
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored… – Job 22: 21-23 (TNIV)
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” – Step Two of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“I will listen to what God the Lord will say; He promises peace to His people, His saints – but let them not return to folly” – Psalm 85:8 (TNIV)
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you” – Isaiah 26:3 (TNIV)
A song that spoke to my inner spirit and facilitated peace in my life in the months that followed after I became a Christian in 1977 was Andre Crouch’s song “Perfect Peace.” If you have some time, click on the image to hear his message:
God is the Author of Peace, and would love for us to experience tranquility, harmony and inner peace that He freely and generously provides to us through His Spirit. I needed God’s peace in my life, and I hungered for it and craved it. Why? Because the restless spirit I had as a prodigal son as well as the substitute and counterfeit ways that I sought peace just didn’t pay off. I needed a mature and fruitful peace that “surpasses comprehension,” especially since the way I was comprehending life was not working so well! So let’s take a closer look at inner peace in the next section.
Section Two: Making Peace Within Ourselves
“First keep peace with yourself, then you can also bring peace to others” – Thomas a Kempis
“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset” – Saint Francis de Sales
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him” – Step Three of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Through the years of my life, God has helped me to experience a maturer Peace because of His love for me, but also because I wanted it, craved it, needed it and stopped contaminating it.
I’m thankful that He never gave up on me, but on the other hand, it helped me to realize that daily work in the garden of my life (head and heart) helps to promote the growth of this necessary, valuable and edifying fruit in my life. If I do my work one day at a time, God definitely shows up to do His; actually, He was there all the time and per the scriptures in this document, His only agenda was to cultivate peace in my life.
In light of this reality, I practice spiritual disciplines like Prayer, Study, Solitude, Worship and Service, which help me to maintain a conscious, balanced, positive and empowered (in addition to calm) contact with God. Today, these behaviors help me in my effort to silence the cognitive distortions (Black and White thinking, Fallacy of Control and Heaven’s Reward Fallacy) as well as Ego Defenses (Regression, Acting Out, Projection) that war within and threaten to derail the inner peace I craved and needed.
I really get George Harrison’s heart, heartbeat and craving for the Peace that flows from Love, as conveyed in “Give Me Love.” If you have a few moments, please listen to it; perhaps his cry of the soul to have God “help him cope with this heavy load” resonates with your own inner need for Peace. It sure does with me. Feel free to click on the image below to hear the song:
When I’m in harmony with God, I tend to see clearer, which helps me to make better personal and relational decisions that are in line with His heart and Spirit, chief of which is to experience and demonstrate Peace in all my affairs with others. This takes us to our last section Peace.
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures” – John F. Kennedy
Section Three: Peacemakers: Making Peace With Others
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” – Romans 12:18 (TNIV)
“Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends. Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (Good News Translation)
If you have tasted this sweet fruit from God and have been impacted by the infusion of it, then more than likely you’ll want to pass it on. Just as Jesus did to me (per the scripture above), today I am passionately moved to speak about and work with others to cultivate and experience the benefits of reconciliation, chief of which is intra- and interpersonal Peace.
I’m fortunate to work in a profession where I get to help people look at the subject of reconciliation and hopefully, to become “ministers of reconciliation” themselves. The core meaning of Reconciliation (Katalasso) simply means “to lay aside wrathful behavior and to impart peaceful behavior.”
Reconciliation (and restoration of some sort) is an outcome of one’s engagement in the process of peacemaking. Again, per the scripture above, reconciliation involves a change from a state of enmity between people to one of friendship. Peacemakers bear the fruit of Peace, which means the seed that was planted into their life will bear the fruit that resembles that seed.
This also means that peacemakers don’t work to evidence hostility, aggression nor combativeness, but they work to put an end to strife, in their own lives and in their relations with others.
So a few questions come to mind: If you have tasted the fruit of Peace and experienced the benefit of peace within your own mind, heart and life, where are you moved, called or motivated to demonstrate this behavior? What “wrathful” behaviors are you convicted to eliminate and what “peaceful” behaviors are you moved to cultivate? Closer to home, who is the closest neighbor to you who needs to experience the fruit of Peace from you? As you consider the world you live in (and as the song below prompts), how does being a peacemaker encourage you to engage in behavior(s) that make a difference?
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King stated: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one” – John Lennon
As I shared in a previous post, one particular song that impacted me then (as it does now) is Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” As I just viewed it, I’m reminded of King Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 1:9: “What has happened before will happen again. What has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new in the whole world.” The images that were captured circa 1987 are similar to the ones that I am seeing some 30 years later in the world that I live in; which makes the drive to grow, develop and deliver the fruit of Peace all the more urgent. If you have time to listen to it, my prayer is that your prayer is to let peace begin with me. Crossover.
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love” – St. Francis of Assisi
In closing this post on Peace, the Apostle Paul offers sage advice on how Joy leads to Peace, and how operating from that state of mind could be maintained as God’s Spirit impacts our thinking and subsequently our behavior. His words are:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” – Philippians 4:4-9 (TNIV)
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