The Fruit of Peace

Last week we looked at the manifestation of joy in our life with Christ.  That joy, stemming from the love of Christ, will thus lead us to peace.  This manifestation melts away the worries of life and leads us to be calm in Christ.  Examine the advise Jesus gives us in the Sermon on the Mount:

Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:25-33).

We are naturally anxious about our future.  Jesus knows this and even says that it is the natural way of the world (verse 32), but as for us, we need to rest in the knowledge that God already knows that we need the necessities of life.  Jesus did not just stop there, however, he challenged us to seek first God with all of our heart, and then He will supply our needs.  What this means is that we have nothing to worry about, and as anxieties fade away, we are left with peace in our heart.  Peace that comes when we know that God supplies all of our needs.  It is a peace that surpasses all of our understanding because even though mortgages and bills are still in our life, God will take care of the needs.  Even though sickness may be found in our families, we have a peace because God is still in charge.

Like Joy, peace in our life is not dependent on our circumstances, but rather by our position.  Paul writes in Romans 5:1 having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  The position that determines our peace is merely our position in Christ.  I know some end-timers and conspiracy-theory people and many of them are up in arms about the way the world appears to be going.  In all reality, whether they are right or not, they cannot control the circumstances but since they do not know God, they spend their days worrying about what is to come in the world.  But Paul contrasts this by saying that once we are justified by faith in Christ, God's peace overcomes us.  I know this fact to be true because my life, though my circumstances did not immediately change once I came to Christ, the peace and even perception of the world around me did in fact change.  The peace of Christ came on me and I felt the worry fade away.  It is true that if we place our trust in Christ, we will not worry as much about the matters of the world.  Place your trust in Christ and experience His peace.

Placing trust in Christ is just part of the story.  Notice in the verse from Matthew, the cure for anxiety is to seek first His kingdom and righteousness.  I think that part of this is what Paul is referencing when he tells us that we have peace with God when we are justified.  Seeking His righteousness, however, is a different story.  I believe that seeking God's righteousness is a reference to beginning the process of sanctification, which is to start to change our lifestyle in order to become more like Christ in our daily lives.  This is not a process that is ever complete, but rather is one that requires making daily choices in order to become closer to God.  Our choices could be to spend more time studying the Bible instead of time in front of a television.  It could be spending more time in prayer seeking God rather than watching another news program (remember there is nothing new under the sun!).  Perhaps a change in your close circle of friends is in order to remove yourself from an old sinful lifestyle.  Ultimately, there is not any one thing that anyone can tell you to do in order to increase your sanctification, but starting by studying the Bible, praying, and finding a mentor in the faith is a great first start.  Once that occurs, you can increase your sanctification, seek His kingdom, and enjoy the peace that passes all understanding.