Summary: Worldly peace never lasts, only the inner peace from our Lord is forever.
Someone once said: “Peace is the brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading.” Isn’t that true whether we’re talking about world peace or inner peace? It seems like it never lasts, and when we have it, we tend to expect that it will only be a matter of time before its disrupted.
Well, today we continue our exploration of the Fruit of the Spirit as we talk about the third fruit mentioned by Paul here in Galatians 5 – peace (Talk about cherries). Let’s read together again, its on the front of your bulletin if you don’t have it memorized yet. Today we need are going to look at what the word peace means here. Is it inner peace, peace between people, peace with God, all of these, or something else?
Let’s begin with the
I. Peace of God
This Greek word for peace is Eirene and so if your name is Irene it means peace. This word is really a translation of the well known Hebrew word Shalom which literally means “safe” with other off shoots being “well” and “prosperous”. In other words this peace refers to doing well and being safe and provided for. One might think of how a well cared for baby might feel, completely worry free. That’s what we’re getting at here.
Now let’s think about that for a minute. Do you think the omnipotent, all knowing God worries about anything? Look at what Jesus says in John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you (in other words it’s not a false sense of security). Let your hearts not be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Is he not saying “don’t worry because I have given you my Shalom?”
So this peace is:
A. A characteristic of God and his Kingdom
Romans 14:17 – “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Notice the mention of two fruit of the Spirit there, peace and joy. We say in the Lord’s prayer “your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”, well we’re asking for righteousness, peace and joy that are already in heaven and we are to cultivate here on earth.
B. This peace is the opposite of Confusion
Often our worry or stress comes from confusion, not being sure why something is happening, what to do or think. Well again this is something that God never experiences, and through the Holy Spirit this peace is available to eliminate our confusion as well.
1 Corinthians 14:33 – “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
James 3:13-17 – “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
God’s wisdom and peace result in perfect harmony inside our hearts and amoung us people.
C. His Peace will Prevail at the Final Conflict
Because peace is God’s nature, He cannot co-exist with the opposite of peace. Frankly neither can we, at least not effectively. In Romans 16:20 we hear, “The God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Interesting how he says under your feet, meaning the undivided church, not his feet, remembering that the church is now Jesus body in the world.
It does sound like a bit of a contradiction from the last point here though doesn’t it? But remember we are not here talking about him giving peace in the physical way. This is the well-being type of peace that requires the destruction of evil.
This is confirmed by Jesus own words in Matthew 10:34 where he says, “Do not think that I have come to bring to peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” How can he say he has not come to bring peace, yet earlier he says my peace I give to you? We must look at the context to understand this.
When he says I give you my peace he is speaking to his disciples as he is telling them about his leaving to fulfill his mission on the cross. This is inner peace. Here in Matthew he is saying he does not bring peace to the world, no he has come to bring the sword of judgment upon the world if they do not trust in him and his return. Those who believe and trust in him will receive peace, while others will receive judgment and destruction.