Galatians 5:22–23 (NKJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Today we consider that the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Peace is more than the absence of war – it is the presence of harmony, understanding, fellowship, and camaraderie. The Spirit of God gives the gift of peace.
First, the Spirit of God establishes peace with God. Though by nature we are enemies of God, estranged from God and rebels against Him, the Spirit reconciles us with God through the sacrifice of Christ. He gives us faith so that we might believe in Christ and appropriate the benefits of the crucifixion, so that we might be justified, set right with God, by faith in Christ. “Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Second, the Spirit of God then enables us to live at peace with one another. This is to be particularly evident in the relationships that we have with fellow believers but also evident generally. “Live at peace with all men,” Paul commands, “especially with those who are of the household of faith.” We are as far as it depends upon us, to live at peace with all men. We do not have the option of holding grudges, nursing bitterness, destroying fellowship. Such actions are sinful and not the fruit of the Spirit. They are actions which the Lord hates.
So how are we able to live at peace with one another? What is the logic the Spirit uses to enable us to live at peace? First, we are able to live at peace with our neighbor because we understand the cause of warfare and its solution. The cause of quarrels and conflicts is sin, lust, selfish desire. The solution, therefore, is grace and a forgiving spirit. How is it that we are reconciled with God? Because God in His grace and mercy forgives us through the death of Christ on our behalf. So how are we reconciled with one another? Because we grant the same grace and mercy to others that was extended to us. Having been forgiven we are empowered by the grace of God to forgive.
Second, we are able to live at peace with our neighbor because we know that whatever trials have come our way as a result of our neighbor’s sins against us, God is ultimately in control and has orchestrated even this very difficult time for our good. God promises to use all things – even the sins of our neighbor – for our good. And so we are not mere victims of our circumstance but enabled, by the grace of God, to learn and grow from these and so to live at peace with our neighbors.
But we often miss the logic of peace. Though God in His grace and mercy has forgiven us, we hold grudges against our neighbors, we become embittered, we nurse hatred and warfare in our hearts. Though God has assured us that He cares for us and that we can cast all our anxieties upon Him, we fester and blame others for our position, imaging that God is not really sovereign and in control.
So reminded of these tendencies – to fail to forgive, to fail to trust God’s Sovereign control of all – let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord.
Our God and Father,
You have been and continue to be gracious and longsuffering. You have forgiven us in Christ, not holding our sins against us. You rule over all things, transforming even the sins of our neighbor into blessings for us. Forgive us for responding to your grace with warfare and strife rather than with peace. Grant O Lord that we might first and foremost be at peace with you through Jesus Christ. And then grant that we might live at peace with our neighbors. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and by the power of Your Spirit,