The Fruit of the Spirit Series (Part 3): The Fruit of the Spirit is Peace
When I think of the word “peace,” two images simultaneously come to my mind. First, I am reminded of the 2-finger peace hand signal used by hippies in the 1960s. I fondly remember my classmates in elementary school exchanging this peace sign, especially when our teacher told us to remain quiet. Second, I recall the numerous jokes I’ve heard over the years from people trying to tackle world peace or pointing out how impossible of a goal it would be. While it may not be possible to create world peace, the Holy Spirit provides us with a powerful way to obtain personal peace. Personal peace is highly desirable and within our reach.
Hebrews 12:10-12 New International Version (NIV)
10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
Peace Requires Real Effort
We come out of the womb screaming. When we don’t get our way we get mad, act out, or bury our anger inside. We lose our keys, can’t find our cell phone, or the car battery won’t start and a new vocabulary emerges from our body. Let’s face it; living in a state of peace does not come naturally.
When it comes to nations, there are usually internal disagreements on policies and procedures. Take it a step further to the international level and we add differences in worldview, the value of life, and religious difference too. Once again, we see that peace is not the default.
To share a personal story with you, when my first child was born she was a talker. She was always making some type of noise. A few years later when my son was born, he was super quiet. I thought something was wrong with him because he seemed so content. Twenty some years later, they still have the same tendencies. But we shouldn’t confuse quiet for peace. Even my quiet child caused quite a bit of trouble of the years. Needless to say, our home was not always a shelter from the storm.
You Can’t Get Away With Murder
Some people mistakenly think that they can do whatever they want in live and still reap the rewards of hard work. I hate to break it to them but that isn’t going to happen. The majority of us don’t get handed things on a silver platter and we can’t get away with murder. We can’t expect to obtain inner peace unless we’re willing to pay the price for it. In case you think you’re immune to this problem because you would never commit murder in the first place, think again. There are tons of times in life most of us try this without even realizing it. Consider a few of my examples.
But We Think We Can
- Did you ever think you could eat and drink whatever you want on a two-week vacation and not gain weight?
- Wait until the last minute and expect to acquire the hottest gifts for your family at Christmas?
- Postpone scheduling an appointment and then think they’ve saved the most popular time for you?
- Forget to shop for a new outfit and then find yourself with nothing to wear on the day of the special event?
- Not make doing your taxes a priority and end up with late fees because you didn’t submit them on time?
None of the things on the list above is horrible and they probably won’t land you in jail. Nevertheless, you can see how easily they can happen. They happen because of a lack of planning and not making them a priority. I must admit, I tend to forget things easily because I quickly move on the next thing. My lessons have been learned the hard way. So, I need to write things down if I don’t want to forget. I also set up reminders so that I’m not doing important things at the last minute.
The same is true when we seek peace. We need to plan and remind ourselves that we can’t expect peace if we’re not willing to work for it. A great example is how easily we can get stressed out from being overly busy. The cure to schedule related peace is setting clear boundaries and saying no. Recently I had to tell someone that I could not participate in something very worthwhile. There was just no way that I would be able to make the time to do it, even though I thought it was a great thing. Paying the price of possibly disappointing someone and feeling left out was a price worth paying in order to have peace.
Strengthen Your Feeble Arms and Weak Knees
Take notice that the Bible verse above from Hebrews 12:12 tells us that we need to strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees. There is no misinterpreting this verse, God is telling us we need to get stronger. We get stronger by “working out” in a physical sense. But we also need to work out in a spiritual sense too. Spiriting working out is done through repeated practice. And you know what they say about practice; practice makes perfect!
While I’m certainly no body builder, I do lift weights. I lift because it makes me stronger and as I age, the odds are against me. I don’t want to be weak and frail if I can avoid it. So I choose to lift weights. I also choose to take on spiritual challenges from time to time too. Not because I want to, but when I get stronger spiritually, I am able to find greater peace. After years of studying God’s word and having plenty of practice applying it to my life, I now do some spiritually difficult things with ease. But I am still learning, growing, and getting stronger every day.
Finding Peace in the Midst of the Storm
Another area where we are easily fooled is in thinking that to have peace everything in our lives needs to be calm. That’s ideal but not always possible. We don’t have the ability to control other people or many of our circumstances. But we can still find peace in the midst of the turmoil around us.
In Matthew 8, we read about a time when Jesus was sleeping in the middle of a storm. Even though everyone else was afraid, Jesus stayed calm and peaceful. He simply rebuked the winds and the sea calmed down. When you are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, you too can perform miracles and do the impossible if it the Lord’s will. Knowing that, how can we be anything else but peaceful?
Matthew 8:23-27 New International Version (NIV)
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
- On a scale of 1- 10, with 10 being complete peace, how peaceful would you say you are today?
- How do you respond when your circumstances change for the worse?
- Are you ready to be more disciplined and to strengthen your spiritual arms and legs?
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