A few years ago, I realized I was living with a divided heart. I found that as I grew in my relationship with God, I had been living a lukewarm faith and truth be told, my heart was anchored in things of this world rather than being united with God. This division of heart was keeping me from lavishing life-giving love to those around me because that was not what was occupying my heart. Instead, my divided heart led to snarky and fear-based thinking which brought unrest, division, and disruption to my world. As my heart began to rest in the Prince of Peace, I started to bring this peaceful heart to those around me. I began to see the fruits of the Spirit at work in my words providing comfort, pointing toward God and His goodness and promises, rather than perpetuating fear, anxiety, and worry. The peace in my heart brings hope and peace into our culture, building God’s kingdom instead of feeding the fire of despair that rampantly burns in the world today. My contentment with God brings me in harmony with others and thus helps brings peace and unity into the world.
What is stealing your peace? Is the weight of the pandemic, social isolation, or the constant disruption of the normalcies of life taking its toll on you? What worries are crowding your thoughts? Are you willing to give these things over to God and interrupt anxiety with gratitude? In Jesus, we can and will find peace and true freedom from anxiety and worry.
Today, we explore the third fruit of the Spirit, peace. Peace is tranquility that can be experienced when we put our complete trust in God. When we rely on God, we believe that he will provide for our needs, and this relieves us from any anxious thoughts about the future. Our hearts are united with Him.
Connection to God, ourselves, and our world allows us rest. As Richard Rohr states in The Naked Now, “Let us come to this place of rest, whether we are in crisis or at peace. If we keep breathing consciously, in connection with all that surrounds us, we will know that we are connected to all of humanity from cave dwellers to cosmonauts, to the entire animal world, and even to the trees and plants. As Barbara Holmes often reminds us, even the atoms we breathe are physically the same as the stardust from the Big Bang. Oneness is no longer experienced as merely a vague mystical notion but rooted in scientific and embodied fact.”
This type of connection embarks us on a transformation guided by the Holy Spirit. As we mature in our faith, aligning our will with God’s, all the characteristics of our spiritual fruits grow. Let’s look at some of the benefits of learning, understanding, and living in the fruit of peace:
- The greeting “Peace be with you” is fundamental to our faith and building community. We find the word peace in the Bible nearly 429 times.
- One of the strongest human desires is for peace, whether it be peace between nations, peace between neighbors or even peace within our own minds and hearts. Peace is defined as freedom from disturbance.
- Peace is listed in the top three characteristics of the fruit of the spirit. Without love, joy and peace, the rest of the fruits are not possible. God has called us as Christians to be peacemakers.
- God’s perfect peace is an amazing gift that is hard to understand. The fruit of the Spirit of peace provides the inner peace of mind and contentment even in less-than-peaceful situations. ‘The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace’ (Psalm 29:11) which is a blessing, a gift He gives to us.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
How do we cultivate the fruit of peace? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Be Still. When feeling anxious, take a moment to sit and be still by using this practice. The peace that comforts us comes from the Holy Spirit within us. Having peace doesn’t mean that we will not have conflict, stress, or difficult times. Peace is knowing that our God is in control.
- Rest. Meditate on God’s promise of rest: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’. Rather than focus on the disturbances in our life, the situations we want to change, worries that go round and round in our mind, or hurdles that seem impossible to overcome, focus on the person who gives us rest. This shift will reset the heart to live in faith, united with Christ rather than worrying about what happened or what might happen. To feel God’s presence more profoundly, read Rest: 31 Days of Peace a beautiful devotional that includes daily Scripture-based meditations that brings you into a deeper understanding of God’s love for you.
- Pray for peace. God loves for us to reflect His word back to Him. Ask the Lord to show favor toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:26)
- Focus on Gratitude. Take a break and write down a list of the blessings that God has lavished on you, all the things you can thank Him for, and for the gifts He has given you. Be sure and include the specific people that He has put around you who love, support, and encourage you.
- Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries. Think about the love that He lavished on us on the cross and the forgiveness for everything we have ever done and will ever do wrong.
True freedom and real peace can only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. Nothing else will free us from the disturbances, worry or anxiety of our life. When we know the Prince of Peace, we are blessed with His peace. We are united with Him bringing love, joy, and peace into our hurting world. In peace, the Spirit rests.
Smitten with the fruit of peace,