Peace – A Fruit of the Spirit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal.5:22-23) When Jesus returned to the Father at the end of his ministry, he appeared to his disciples and breathed on them the Holy Spirit. This gave them the power to carry on his kingdom work. The fruits of the spirit are admirable virtues that require divine inspiration. On our own, we struggle with the opposite tendencies: hatred, depression, restlessness, impatience, mean-spiritedness, infidelity, rudeness, or impulsivity. To invite Jesus into our lives is to allow him to plant the seeds that will grow into a life of peace.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
One of the first science experiments children perform in school is to plant a seed in a cup of soil and watch it grow. If the conditions are right, the seed sprouts and they observe it transform into a healthy plant. One of the first stories I read in school told of a child planting an apple seed and waiting for it to produce apples. Unfortunately, growing a tree from seed can take decades; the child is an adult before the fruit is ready. So it is with the fruits of the spirit. Christ is planted in our heart and, given the right conditions, his spirit begins to produce his likeness in our lives. Abiding in the word of God, learning in fellowship with other Christians, exercising faith in prayer, and persisting through adversity, begins to do its work. Just as fruit contains new seeds for the next generation of plant, so our lives become the seed of faith to our children, and so the cycle continues.
A child knows instinctively that only living seeds produce a plant. They don’t dig a hole for a bone and expect a person to sprout. Living plants require living seeds. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control must come from the living presence of God; those virtues will not grow from dead faith, no matter how great the effort. What we produce in ourselves is a shadow of what God wants to bring to life in us.
This week we have focused on peace—shalom. It is part of the mosaic of an abundant life that includes hope, peace, joy and love. The absence of peace creates fear and uncertainty, causing us to find our peace in our own distractions. To be able to say, “All is well”, is a gift that we seek this advent season.
” Lord, we open our hearts to your spirit this Christmas season and pray that you will make the fruit visible in our lives. You are the living God who wants to produce the virtues of the kingdom of God in our world through us. Peace transforms our world. It is the message of the angels given that first Christmas. Welcome.” Amen