************ Sermon on Galatians 5:22c ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 25, 2004
"The Fruit of the Spirit is ... Peace"
Topic: FruitIn the same way, fruit should be obvious in our life. In fact, bearing fruit is essential to Christian discipleship. Don't forget what Jesus said, "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:8).
Benjamin Franklin learned that plaster sown in the fields would make things grow. He told his neighbors, but they did not believe him and they argued with him trying to prove that plaster could be of no use at all to grass or grain.
After a little while he allowed the matter to drop and said no more about it. But he went into the field early the next spring and sowed some grain. Close by the path, where men would walk, he traced some letters with his finger and put plaster into them and then sowed his seed in the field.
After a week or two the seed sprang up. His neighbors, as they passed that way, were very much surprised to see, in brighter green than all the rest of the field, the writing in large letters, "This has been plastered."
Benjamin Franklin did not need to argue with his neighbors any more about the benefit of plaster for the fields. For as the season went on and the grain grew, these bright green letters just rose up above all the rest until they were a kind of billboard in the field -- "This has been plastered."
God looks for fruit in Spirit-filled Christians and churches – and don't forget, there is no other kind of Christian or church. He looks for spiritual fruit. One of the fruits He looks for is peace.
I Weeds to be Rooted Out
A "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." Looking forward to the coming of the Messiah the prophet Isaiah says, "And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Is 9:6). When He did come angels said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests" (Lk 2:14). Christ's disciples waited for the fulfillment of these prophecies and then one day Jesus staggered them with these words:
(Mt 10:34-36) "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (35) For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- (36) a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'This sounds like a direct contradiction of what Isaiah and the angels said, but it isn't. Here is the formula: before pure peace can come into a life there must be a rooting out, pulling down, destroying, and throwing down. Or, to use the language of previous sermons, we must get rid of the weeds that prevent peace.
B "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." There are a number of weeds which mar the garden of man's soul and prevent a harvest of peace. Our Scripture reading identifies one such weed as anxiety. "Do not be anxious about anything," says Paul. Paul lets us know that anxiety stands in the way of peace.
Anxiety is a preoccupation with things of lesser importance. Think of Martha. She put more emphasis on cooking and entertaining than on hearing the words of Jesus. She had her priorities mixed up. Remember what Jesus said to her: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed" (Lk 10:41). Martha was anxious. Or, as Jesus put it another time: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Mt 4:4).
Jesus urged His disciples to be like the birds – not to worry about food, drink, clothing, and shelter. There are so many uncertainties in life, so many things which are only in God's hand, that it is useless for us to set our minds on them. Worry indicates one of two things: either that we doubt that the God Who cares for the birds and the flowers cares for us, or that we want to take over what is God's concern.
We can have peace only when we root out the weed of anxiety.
C "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." Another weed that needs to be rooted out before we can have peace is strife. The Philippian church lacked peace because two ladies were striving with each other. We aren't told the source of the conflict between Euodia and Syntyche, but we are told that Paul wants them "to agree with each other in the Lord" (vs 2). Only then can they have peace.
In our text Paul says that "the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." Just prior to this he identifies the acts of the sinful nature that are the opposite to this fruit: discord, jealousy, dissensions, factions (Gal 5:20).
The book of Proverbs also has a word or two to say about strife:
(Prov 6:16-19) There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: (17) haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, (18) a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, (19) a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.God despises dissension, strife, conflict, quarrel, factions, and discord. God is not pleased when churches split. God hates it when husbands and wives fight among themselves. God detests it when congregations have conflict over styles of worship. Strife is an act of the sinful nature, it is part of that old man of sin we are to crucify, and it prevents the fruition of peace.
D "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." There is one last weed to be rooted out. This is a weed that seeks to have peace apart from God. But peace comes only as a gift of God. God is the author of peace. He is called the "God of peace" (Rom 15:33; 16:20; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 13:20) and apart from Him there can be no peace.
God brings peace, but only through Jesus Christ. That's why the angels can sing of "peace on earth" at the birth of Christ (Lk 2:14). That's why Jesus can say, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you" (Jn 14:27). More specifically, God brings peace through the blood of Christ. Paul can say,
(Col 1:20) ... reconcile to himself all things ... by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
(Eph 2:13-14) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (14) For he himself is our peace ...
Peace, then, has to start with Jesus. Peace is not possible unless we are washed and cleansed by His blood and given a new heart. God, therefore, grants peace only on the basis of Christ and His righteousness.
The opposite is also true: apart from Christ there can be no peace. The prophet Isaiah states it best: "There is no peace for the wicked" (Is 48:22). All those who seek peace apart from God and His Christ can only end up with no peace. Like the false prophets at the time of Jeremiah, they say "peace, peace," when there is no peace (Jer 6:14).
In this light look at the efforts of the United Nations, the American Secretary of State, NATO, and others. They all work hard for peace. But the peace they work for cannot succeed if God and His Christ are not included in the picture. In fact, there can be no peace until Christ's Kingdom is fully established.
II The Fruit of Peace
A "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." What is this peace, this fruit of the Spirit, that God and Christ give us? The Hebrew word for peace is "shalom." It means wholeness, well-being, salvation. Peace or shalom comes to expression in four areas: with God, with your neighbor, with yourself, and with creation.
First of all, there is peace or reconciliation with God. Man's natural, sinful state is one of enmity with God; he hates and disobeys God. Since sinful man cannot bear to be in the presence of the holy God, he flees from God, he is separated and alienated and exiled from God. We see this already when our first parents, Adam and Eve, hid from God's presence and later were driven from God's presence in the garden.
But those who have peace, shalom, are reconciled with God. Listen to what Paul says:
(Rom 5:1b) ... we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
B "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." Second, there is peace or shalom with your neighbor. All around us we see that man's natural, sinful state is one of enmity with and hatred toward his neighbor. Behind prison walls, for instance, are men who have raped, murdered, and abused fellow human beings. On the TV every week we see story after story that shows man's hatred toward other men: Scott Peterson, Kobe Bryant, Robert Blake, Michael Jackson, to name only a few of the top stories.
But those who have peace, shalom, are able to love their neighbor. The prophet Isaiah says,
(Is 2:4) They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Those who have the peace, the shalom, that Christ brings, are able to live in harmony with their neighbor, their spouse, their brothers and sisters in the church.
C "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." Third, there is peace or shalom with yourself. Here, we think of wholeness, fullness, and well-being. All around us we see disease, brokenness, disability: like cancer, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Down's Syndrome, heart-attack, stroke, deafness, blindness, chronic depression.
But those who have peace, shalom, can look forward to a time without any of this. Listen to what Scripture says:
(Is 35:5-6) Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. (6) Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.What a beautiful picture, a picture of wholeness, fullness, and well-being for all those who have the peace, the shalom that Christ speaks of in our text.
D "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." Lastly, there is peace or shalom with and in Creation. Right now we see a world that is badly messed up because of man: toxic wastes, acid rain, nuclear wastes, PCBs, deforestation of the Amazon, extinction of whole species of plant and animal life, water pollution, oil spills, global warming, a mounting garbage and land-fill crisis.
But those who have peace, shalom, can look forward to a time when man will live in harmony with God's Creation, when man will preserve rather than destroy Creation.
(Is 11:6-9) The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (7) The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (8) The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. (9) They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain ...
III The Cultivation of Peace
A "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." No farmer can expect to reap a harvest, no gardener can expect to fill a freezer or pick a bouquet, if the seed is not cultivated. (EXPLAIN THE JARS AND HOLD UP JAR WITHOUT WATER OR FERTILIZER) In the same way, we must cultivate the seed of new life the Spirit of God has planted within us if we hope to reap a harvest of peace. What exactly can we do to cultivate peace/shalom?
It starts off with knowing God and His Christ. Don't forget, peace only comes from God and Christ through the Spirit. Unless we have a personal and living relationship with the Lord we cannot possibly enjoy peace with God, with each other, with ourselves, or with the Creation.
B "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." We can also cultivate peace by trusting in God. We talked earlier of the weed of anxiety. Instead of being anxious, we must cast all of our care upon the Lord. Don't forget, the Lord Who looks after the birds and the flowers will most certainly look after us too. The prophet says:
(Is 26:3) You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
In this light consider too what Paul says about prayer and thanksgiving in our Scripture reading:
(Phil 4:6-7) ... in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.In prayer, of course, we lay all things before God and place them in His care. Only when we give our concerns over to God can we have peace. "Let go and let God," is the Christian's motto here.
C "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." We cultivate peace by loving and submitting to God's law. It is disobedience to God's law that destroys peace. In the same way, it is submission to God's law that makes for peace. I think of what the psalmist says:
(Ps 119:165) Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
(Job 22:21) Submit to God and be at peace with him ...
D "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." We can also cultivate peace by praying for those in authority over us. Paul says we are to pray for kings and princes, presidents and prime ministers, governors and mayors. We are to pray for them, Paul writes to Timothy, so "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives" (1 Tim 2:1-2).
E "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." We can cultivate peace by observing God's order for the home and church. God says children are to obey their parents in the Lord and parents are not to exasperate their children but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:1-4). When either children or parents fail to follow God's order here the result is a lack of peace.
God says wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord and husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Eph 5:22-33). When either husbands or wives fail to follow God's order here the result is a lack of peace.
God says we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21). When we fail to do that as husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, the result is a lack of peace.
F "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." Lastly, we can cultivate peace by being peacemakers. Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Mt 5:9). We must be people who work for peace – in our own lives, in our homes, in our churches, in the world.
Topic: PeacemakersAbraham Lincoln was a peacemaker. We must be too.
When he was an attorney, Abraham Lincoln was once approached by a man who passionately insisted on bringing a suit for $2.50 against an impoverished debtor. Lincoln tried to discourage him, but the man was bent on revenge. When he saw that the man would not be put off, Lincoln agreed to take the case and asked for a legal fee of $10, which the plaintiff paid. Lincoln then gave half of the money to the defendant, who willingly confessed to the debt and paid the $2.50! But even more amazing than Lincoln's ingenuous settlement was the fact that the irate plaintiff was satisfied with it.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is ... peace." If we claim to be a Spirit-filled Christian or church – and there is no other kind of Christian or church – then we have the fruit of the Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is ... peace."
Do you have this peace? And, do you deliberately cultivate this peace?
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