Monday, January 10, 2011

The 9 Fruits: Part 3

The 9 Fruits
Part 3: Peace

Galatians 5:19a The acts of the flesh are obvious...
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

"The word "peace" comes from the Greek word eirene, the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word shalom, which expresses the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances or pressures."  (Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Rick Renner)

Paul started out almost all of his letters with "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ".  He did the same with the Galatians, but he went a step further as well.  He gave them the reason of the grace and peace..."who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father".

Paul was addressing the Church in Galatia.  It was a church that was characterized by many things, but 'peace' was not one of them.  It was a church in conflict since Paul left after he planted them during his missionary journeys through the area. Paul was indeed announcing to them that the fruits of the Spirit, which they should have already possessed, was not one of the things that he saw, but it was a state which he had hoped they would one day attain.

The Bible says much about peace in general, but it says many more things about a particular type of peace...the peace of God.  This peace is promised to all who trust in the Lord. "But wait!", you might say. "Didn't Jesus say that he didn't come to bring peace?"  True. So how do we reconcile this fact?  I think Jesus was talking about peace with the world.  He said to not expect peace that the world gives, because as his disciples, we would be treated as he was treated.  He did not know peace with the world and neither would we.  However, we would have the peace that comes with a right relationship with God.  It was the only peace we would experience, but it would be more than enough.

When Jesus came, he told his disciples it would be better for them that he would go away, because then the Father would send the the paracleton...literally, the 'beside caller...the one who walks besides us..The Consoler...the Comforter....the Holy Spirit.  The disciples did not know what Jesus was talking about at the time but they did now.  Paul elaborates that this Comforter...this Hold Spirit gives us gifts which the Father has bestowed on the Disciples of his Son.  Peace was one of these 9 gifts.

Imagine what a precious gift this was in a world full of violence.  It was, as Paul stated in his letter to the Philippians, "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."  It was a gift beyond compare.  A rest, a comfort, a total release of anxiety because we do not need to worry about our salvation.  Whatever happens, whether we live or die; whether we have much or are wanting; whether we are liked by the world or not, we still have Jesus.  We can hold fast to that promise no matter what.

How about you?  If you are a Christian, do you realize what a precious gift that the Holy Spirit has given you?  Do you realize that you already have the Peace of God?  Many do not. But it's never too late to experience this.  Give your anxieties...all of your insecurities over to Him.  He cares for you.

If yo are not a Christian...if you do not believe that Jesus died for your sins, how much peace do you have?  Is your life full of worry?  Do you long for the rest and peace that trusting in God provides?  Why don;t you start by reading the Bible and see if the evidence there might not convince you?  Try reading the Gospel of John first.  If you don't want to read the first chapter (I always believe it is better) why not try chapter 14 first?  This chapter will give you  a taste of how Jesus love his disciples and how he took care of them.  Great stuff.

Wherever you are at, I encourage you to read the Bible.  I am not concerned where you start or how much of it you read.  God is in every word.  You will know it once you start.

Blessings All!