This is the third of the nine pieces of fruit in the series on the Fruit of the Spirit. For an overview see, By Their Fruit You Will Recognize Them.
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.
You may be picking up on a pattern that in order to better understand what a given characteristic of the Fruit of the Spirit is intended to convey, it helps to explore what the absence of that characteristic leaves us with. Peace may be one of those nebulous concepts, until we understand that peace is noticeably absent when our lives are filled with chaos, anxiety, and fear. In Scriptural terms, peace is very much linked to the absence of fear. Notice that we did not say the absence of negative circumstances, but rather a fearful attitude toward our circumstances. And we rid our lives of fear and anxiety when we learn to embrace God’s truth.
Several years ago, I went through a difficult time where things were being said about me that simply were not true. I found myself increasingly living in fear and had to learn through many anxiety-filled nights that the truth is not something to be feared. I had to learn to embrace truth. For a time, I had a white rock sitting on my desk with the word truth written on it as a constant reminder to embrace the truth. The more I returned to the truth of that situation (or any given circumstance) the less fearful I became and my life was characterized more by peace.
Similar to joy, it is fallacious to believe that peace is attainable only when our lives are free from all troubles and concerns. If that were the case, possessing a spirit of peace would be beyond the normal human grasp. But that is not the case. Like each of these pieces of fruit, we are called to possess them in the midst of life’s troubles and concerns.
Jesus is recorded often as saying, “Peace be with you.” He was usually saying this in response to a stressful situation. He also commanded us not to worry. The two go hand in hand. We can only assume he said these two things because as human beings we are apt to worry and be fearful of things that are out of our control. It is only when we take responsibility for what is in our control and entrust the things that are out of our control to God that we can truly live a life of peace, free from the burden of fear and anxiety.
So instead of waiting for that fictitious day when our lives are free of worry in order to experience peace, we can reduce stress and anxiety where it is within our control and we can rest in the truth of God when those stressors are out of our control. This is the pathway to a life of peace. If peace, as part of the Fruit of the Spirit, is the absence of fear and the presence of truth, how peaceful would you say your life is currently?
- Am I refusing to live in fear as I come to embrace truth?
- What issues cause fear to resurface in your life?
- In what ways can truth keep those fears from overwhelming you?