What in the Word: Galatians 5:22-25
Hang-Onto-It Verse: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23a)
Camp out on the word peace for a little while. How do you describe peace? Then take a quick field trip to the lovely Reflect blog and pause for a few seconds on the expanded definition of shalowm you find there.
Which of these images best captures what you have in mind right now?
Grab your Bible and go to Isaiah 9:6. What is the last name given to Jesus in this divine birth announcement?
What comes to mind when you read or hear the word "prince"?
My thoughts lean toward authority, rule, power.
Head to the New Testament in your Bible and check out what Colossians 3:15 says about peace.
This is a moment when we can just revel in the connection and completion of God's Word! Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. Princes are rulers. Colossians 3:15 counsels us to "let the peace of Christ rule" in our hearts. Aren't you just in awe of how everything fits together...how a thread started in the Old Testament gets woven into the New? Beautiful. Inspired (literally). I love this.
The Main Event:
How do we get to this peace that reigns and rules?
One way is to follow the peace path. Click over to Philippians 4:6-7. Drink in these verses a couple times.
Now use these key words from that same passage to fill in the path below.
... __________ ... __________ ... ________.
You can also look at this path as something of an equation: worry + prayer + petition + thanksgiving + requests = peace.
- Tell God what you're worried about.
- Present the facts to Him. (He knows, but He likes it when you communicate with Him.)
- Thank Him for what He's already done in the situation or for what He's blessed you with that gives you something to worry about in the first place.
- Ask Him to act.
- Then take a deep breath and confidently expect to feel His peace.
Worry is a window. It lets fear, despair, hopelessness, and anxiety into your mind and heart. (And, if you're like me, anger. I often act angry when I feel worried.)
But: peace is a protector. Peace stands guard at your mind and heart and denies entry to what worry would like to let in. Instead of fear, despair, hopelessness, anxiety, and anger, peace admits joy, hope, courage, encouragement, and wisdom. And because God's peace transcends (goes beyond, surpasses) understanding, you can experience this protection no matter what's going on in your life or in the world around you.
You might understand that your friendship with your best friend is strained. You might understand that your family member's illness is serious and scary. You might understand that you don't know what to do about a big decision looming over you. But peace rises above understanding. Peace reigns and rules and exerts its authority over what you understand.
Sometimes we think of peace as passive, but the peace that passes understanding actually brings strength. Peace captures energy stolen by worry and converts it into power to deal with that friendship, that illness, that decision.
The Truth in Action:
What are you worried about? (If you're like me, the issue isn't coming up with something; it's sorting just one thing out of a long list. This is not something I'm proud of.) Whatever is worrying you, move along the peace path with it.
My 16-year-old daughter just got her license and is driving on her own. And because I am a normal mother, I am worried about her. So I pray: I begin a conversation with Abba and affirm my belief that He exists, that He cares about what I care about, and that He can and will do something about it! I petition Him and tell Him what He already knows about Lydia: how precious and loving and lovely she is. I thank Him for creating her and for giving her to her father, sister, and me. Then I tell Him I am concerned for her safety and ask Him to protect her and to help her to make wise decisions when she's driving. And then, even though I understand only too well (!) everything that could happen to my sweet girl when she's on the road, God's peace guards my heart and mind. (And then I pray some more. Because that's what we moms of young drivers do.)
When worry and fear try to get in the window, the protector turns them back.
One other thing to remember: the most important part of The Truth in Action for every part of this Fruit of the Spirit (FOTS) series is going to be the same: ask the Holy Spirit (H.S.) to give you His fruit! Listen up, precious girl, you cannot come up with the FOTS on your own. You can't will yourself to be peaceful, especially on days when you feel like you're buried in worries about things that really matter! You can't just grit your teeth and make this FOTS thing happen. You have to ask the H.S. to fill you up with His power every day.
The great news here is that God will always say "yes" when we ask for something He wants to give (on His own perfect schedule, of course). And we KNOW He wants to give us peace and all the rest of the parts of the FOTS. You can ask for a fresh fill-up of peace to get you through your day and feel confident God is going to be all over that request. So ask!
Ask the H.S. to give you His supernatural power, because people can't literally see God's Spirit in you, but they can see peace. And remember, you're not doing this hard thing on your own. I'm not doing it on my own. That's why it's not called the Fruit of Elizabeth or the Fruit of (your name goes here). It's the Fruit of the Spirit.
"When your words came, I ate them;