PEACE: Fruit 3 of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22c
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Love, joy, peace ( of all words ever coined, few are more soothing than peace. Conjuring up images of contentment, peace is pictured by the satisfaction of a baby nestling in its mother’s arms.

The word “peace” occurs in 26 of 27 New Testament books (not I John), yet we too little experience it. Neither common nor ordinary, peace is rare.

History, written in ink blood red, records much of war, little of peace. The most written about period in USA history is the Civil War, which cost 600,000 lives.

Even when a war ceases, what follows can rarely be called peace. “Cease-fire” is usually more accurate. Too often the guns are silenced so we can stock-pile bigger and better weapons to fight with.

The years between World War I and World War II proved to be merely a temporary quietus in one huge war. Nations honed materials and methods while raising a new generation to do the fighting.

Into this discouraging melee of a world, Christians are sent as peacemakers. Our Master said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Christians should strive to foster peace in at least four areas. First, in personal relationships. In all our dealings with others, peace must be a priority.

The Bible word for peace is based on the Hebrew greeting “Shalom,” which is a prayer asking God to secure another person’s well-being. Peace involves helping other people enjoy life’s highest and best benefits.

Peace is not cease-fire, armed neutrality, freedom from trouble, tall fences between houses, or “you go your way, I’ll go mine.” Peace entails desire and effort to work actively toward achieving the best and highest good for others.

Some Christians enjoy conflict. They delight in watching others squabble or fight. Our Lord condones none of this. Neither should we.

In every situation dealing with relationships, Christians must be healing agents. At work, at home, in social life, believers should help people have peace with us and with one another.

Second, Christians should pursue peace with God. In seeking peace with others, we will never have our best success until we are at peace with God.

Always seeking the highest and best good for others takes a miracle. We are by nature so selfish that a Power above us must wield repeated control over us for us to always be promoting peace. Human peace must flow from God’s peace.

Peace between nations is rare because God’s peace is rare in the hearts of individuals. World War II started not at Pearl Harbor, but in Hitler’s heart.

Until God’s peace reigns in our hearts, strife and trouble will disturb our relationships with others. “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?” (James 4:1).

In Paul’s commonly used salutation, “grace and peace,” grace always precedes peace. We must have God’s grace before we can have His peace.

However the word peace is used in Scripture, God is always implied in the background. Jesus Himself is called “our peace” (Ephesians 2:13-17), for He has reconciled us to God and to each other.

Believers, be careful to keep our spiritual peace strong. Stay close to Jesus. Christ’s peace is inseparable from His sensed presence.

Peace is an atmosphere surrounding and accompanying Jesus. Sin diminishes it. Learn to hate evil. Peace of heart is too valuable to be without.

Third, Christians should promote peace in their local church. God wants His children to live in harmony. Peace between believers is especially important because the world is watching us like a hawk.

We have to work extremely hard at maintaining peace in a local church because the unity we seek has to be preserved in a context of diversity. A local church is a hodgepodge, consisting of different types and classes of people, having various tastes, attitudes, and mind-sets. Differences are a church’s earmark, for Christianity extends its invitation to all kinds of people.

Very few organizations give a blanket welcome and say, “All come.” Civic organizations usually target adults only, making no provision for preschoolers. Most secular clubs or societies seek to deal only with people of common interests, desires, or ages.

The Church, though, says, “All come.” Newborns are provided for, preschoolers are taught, children are trained, teens are wanted, college students matter, single adults will not be neglected, married adults are welcome, senior adults are cared for. Rich and poor, employer and employee, immigrant and citizen, Royals fan and Cardinals fan, Democrat and Republican, male and female, Jew and Gentile, “All come.”

The Holy Spirit takes people who are vastly different and mixes them into one organization. He then works a miracle. He enables them to live together in peace. This oneness amidst profound diversity brings huge honor to God and attracts the world’s attention. When we don’t get along, this dishonors God and unfortunately also attracts the world’s attention.

We have to be vigilant in the face of many attempts from inside and outside a local church to take away its God-given, God-intended peace. Ever endeavor to keep peace because many factors ever endanger it. Envy, jealousy, and anger still lurk in our old natures and surface when we neglect our prayer closets.

Pride ever stalks our heart corridors; Diotrephes still “loves to have first place” (III John 9). Cowardice abides; Demas yet deserts us (II Timothy 4:10). Meanness haunts us; Alexander the coppersmith still does us much harm (II Timothy 4:14).

Error remains; Hymenaeus and Alexander still blaspheme (I Timothy 1:20). We sometimes have to deal with people who mistakenly treat their own opinions with the reverence due only to absolute truth found in Scripture.

Be careful when dealing with troubles in the fellowship. Hold a rein on our passions. Keep our emotions under control. Think and pray before speaking.

Do not fight the Lord’s battles with Satan’s weapons. Do not hold the Bible in our hands while having the look and sound of Satan on our faces and lips.

If others wish to quarrel with us, do not quarrel in return. If others revile us, do not respond in kind. Our calling is not to win a debate. We are to win people, not arguments. In every thing we do, stress the importance of peace in a local church.

Fourth, believers should seek to bring peace between unbelievers and God. Jesus said to His followers, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).

In this, the fourth of five times Jesus gave the Great Commission, peace was conferred on His followers as a trust to be transmitted to others. God the Father delegated a world-wide peace responsibility to His Son, who in turn conveyed to us the same task. The peace of this whole lost world has been placed by the Father on Jesus, and by Jesus on us. We continue His work.

Jesus substituted His body for our bodies at Calvary. Now our bodies need to be substituted for His. In Galilee Jesus spoke peace through His vocal cords. Now He speaks peace through ours. He walked on His feet to spread peace, now He uses our feet to run His errands of peace. The only hands He has to do His work are ours.

We believers are not to be selfish with the peace God has given us to enjoy. We are to take His peace house to house (Luke 10:5). The King of kings sends us as ambassadors throughout the earth to plead for peace, to urge people to end their hostility against God.

In a world opposed to Jesus, we are to go forth to erect outposts of His kingdom, embassies of refuge, lighthouses of peace. We must tell sinners, because of what Jesus has done, the war is over. They are welcome to come home to their Heavenly Father in peace.