The third fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 is peace.
For followers of Jesus, there is a vertical element to peace and a horizontal. The vertical involves our peace with God. In Romans 5:1, Paul wrote, “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul went on to remind us that without Jesus, we stand as enemies of God, or “children of wrath” as he would say in Ephesians 2.
Enemies and wrath are two words that denote the opposite of peace. But by bringing about forgiveness of our sins, we move from being enemies against God to children of God–a movement to peace. And this a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, using the good news of Jesus to bring our hearts to spiritual life.
The horizontal element of peace is with others. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Then, in Romans 12:16-18, Paul wrote, “Live in harmony with one another… If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Our natural inclinations lead us away from this. We get hurt and we want to hurt others. We get offended and we want to lash out. But the commands still stand to seek peace. This requires an act of the Spirit, helping us to see other people in a new way.
If we meet someone and they also are a follower of Jesus, then they are our brother or sister–a part of the same, big, eternal family. If we meet someone and they are not a follower of Jesus, then they are fellow human beings in need of Jesus. It may very well be through our witness that they come to know Jesus, but that witness is greatly hindered if we act like their enemies.
Being peacemakers and seeking peace with others won’t mean they’ll always want peace with us. But with the Spirit’s work in our hearts, we can still strive to be at peace with others because we are at peace with God. So, let us pray for a greater reality of peace in our lives.
Next time we’ll take a look at the fruit of patience.
All scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).