Joy and Peace
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”- Galatians 5:22–23
Holiness determines whether or not we will see the Lord and receive His blessings (Heb. 12:14). Ultimately, the only holiness that grants us access to God is the holiness of Christ, which covers us when we rest in Jesus alone for salvation (2 Cor. 5:21). Yet this does not deny our need to live holy lives, for in pursuing holiness we demonstrate our reliance upon Christ (James 2:14–26). God the Holy Spirit gives us a pattern for holy living in Christ, who, as very God of very God, shows us how to imitate our Creator, the Holy One of Israel (Acts 1:8; Eph. 5:1).
Scripture records Jesus’ actions and teachings so that we might have a sure guide for patterning our lives after the Savior. Moreover, the Spirit shapes us, repairing the image of God that was marred in the fall and molding our dispositions, personalities, and loves according to Christ Himself. To be sure, this process takes a lifetime, and we remain works in progress until we die. Still, personal righteousness becomes more evident in our lives as the Spirit works to make us repent, resist temptation, and grow in godliness. Galatians 5:22–23 lists a few of the righteous attributes that the Spirit works in believers. All these traits were visible in the life of Christ, who was also empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1).
Today we will examine two of these traits or spiritual fruits — joy and peace. The joy that Paul has in mind in today’s passage is the inclination of our personalities toward cheerfulness. Although we do not deny the reality of tragedy and trouble, we who trust in Christ should never be regarded as inconsolable and permanently morbid or dour. Instead, we possess a reserve of joy granted by the Spirit. Such joy is not superficial happiness that denies the propriety of mourning at the right time (Eccl. 7:4); rather, such joy looks forward to the day when all will be set right because of Jesus, who has overcome the world (John 16:33).
In defeating the world, Jesus has also granted us true peace. We are on God’s side in Christ, for He has reconciled us to the Father, and the defeat of God’s enemies on the cross is the defeat of our enemies. Furthermore, since our war with God has ended, we can live at peace with others as far as it depends on us (Rom. 12:18). We can rest peacefully in this evil world because we have already won the victory.
John says we should not be surprised that the world hates us (1 John 3:13). Still, we do not have license to give the world rational reasons to oppose us. We can do nothing about the irrational opposition unbelievers may have toward us because we love Christ, but we can refuse to add fuel to the fire through our own sinful belligerence and temper tantrums when things do not go our way. Let us not pick unnecessary fights but, as we are able, live at peace with all people.
Passages for Further Study
1 Thessalonians 1:6