The fruits of the Spirit, described in Galatians chapter 5, verses 22-23, are qualities that emanate from a life lived in harmony with the Holy Spirit. Recent preaching at my church was on the topic of living in step with the Holy Spirit. In many ways the words of Jesus from Matthew chapter 7, verses 16 to 20, tell us that it is by the fruits (of the Holy Spirit) that we can recognise the authenticity of a believer.
In the bustling and chaotic world we inhabit, the pursuit of peace often feels like an elusive dream. Yet, for us believers, the concept of peace goes far beyond external circumstances; it is an essential component of the fruit of the Spirit. Among the fruits of the Spirit, peace stands out as a powerful and transformative force that can bring inner serenity and harmony even in the face of life's storms.
Peace, as one of the fruits, holds a special place. It is more than the absence of conflict; it's a profound sense of inner tranquillity and trust, even in the midst of trials and tribulations. This peace is not solely a result of external circumstances; it is a deep-rooted sense of assurance in God's providence and love. When the Spirit of God is at work within a person, it brings about a transformation that enables them to experience and share peace in a world often filled with chaos and strife.
For myself, the last month has seen me deal with more than the average share of trials and challenges. First, in mid-September my work contract ended. At the end of September, the original plan was to bring my 92-year old Dad on a very last trip to Penang, Malaysia for a family reunion and celebrate multiple birthdays, one of which was for his sister turning 90 years old. As things emerged, my Dad started experiencing pain which resulted in hospitalisation – just 24 hours prior to the time of departure.
After an extended weekend of treatment in hospital, he was scheduled to be discharged, only for a fall from his hospital bed to occur in the early hours of that day. Needless to say, the overseas holiday has since been cancelled. Furthermore, the fall resulted in a few extra days of hospitalisation and then the most recent two weeks in rehabilitation. With discharge planning held earlier this week, his latest transfer is into temporary residential respite care with the view that this will become permanent.
Now all of this is a lot for anyone to handle, but as the earlier paragraph mentions, the deep-rooted assurance of peace from God helps me revitalise daily and not be overwhelmed.
The different perspectives of peace
The above is a good example of peace in troubled times. No matter the adversity and external challenges of what has transpired, or what is to come, the peace that is the fruit of the Spirit helps me remain calm. God offers us a steadfast hope and trust that He is with us.
The pursuit of peace can also be channelled to having peace with God. This perspective of peace aligns with reconciliation and how Jesus reconciles us to God through the gift of salvation. In this way, Jesus lives up to his identity as the Prince of Peace.
Peace with yourself can be achieved through realising that our identity is best rooted in God. We are all sons and daughters under His Lordship; when we step into this identity with confidence, God's sovereignty helps us align to both an inner peace as well as peace with Him.
The final perspective of peace is towards one another. Living in harmony and peace is a key characteristic of being filled with the Holy Spirit. We are all called to be peacemakers, as part of also adopting the holistic fruits of the spirit – love in particular.
Jesus: the Prince of Peace
One of the titles for Jesus is that he is the Prince of Peace. The source of this is Isaiah chapter 9, verse 6: "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, and it is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquillity of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word eirene means "unity and accord"; Paul uses eirene to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual's restoration with God. This aligns with the second nature of peace mentioned earlier.
Jesus never promised peace would be easy; He only promised help. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation and trials. Jesus also said that, if we called on Him, He would give us the "peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension" - Philippians chapter 4, verses 6–7. No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for a peace that comes from the powerful love of God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us.
May you build your life on Jesus, the Prince of Peace.