Joy and Peace
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” —(Gal. 5:22–23).
If we are going to evidence those traits that characterize a redeemed life, we must learn to be imitators of God Himself. One way in which this is accomplished is to pattern our lives after the example of Jesus who, being very God of very God, alone perfectly lived in accordance with the Father’s righteous character.
Patterning our lives after Christ is no easy task. However, God has not left us without assistance in this endeavor. He has provided us with His Word, which shows us how Jesus lived and gives us His teaching regarding those character traits that must govern our lives. Moreover, He has given us the Holy Spirit so that our dispositions and personalities can be molded according to His image.
When the Spirit is active in our lives, personal righteousness becomes more evident. In today’s passage, the apostle Paul lists some of those righteous attributes that the Spirit produces in our lives. These things were all prominent in the life of Jesus who was empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1).
When we study 1 John in a few months we will devote several weeks to studying the fruit of love. Today we will discuss joy and peace. John Calvin says that the joy Paul speaks of in this passage refers to the disposition of one’s personality toward cheerfulness. Christians are not to be morbid or endlessly despairing; rather, they are to possess an inner reserve of joy.
However, this joy is not a superficial frivolity or false happiness. It is appropriate to mourn at times (Eccl. 7:4). Yet even at these times, believers have real joy, confident that all will one day be well because Jesus has already overcome this evil world (John 16:33).
Because Jesus has overcome the world, we can also have true peace. He has defeated the enemy, and in bearing punishment for our sin, He has achieved reconciliation between God and His people. Because the war between God and His people has ended, we can live at peace with others as far as it depends on us (Rom. 12:18). Still, many will hate us because of Christ, so living peaceably means that we are not quarrelsome or belligerent as we stand for our Lord.
The victory of Jesus over the power of Satan guarantees that we can have joy and peace. Nothing will be able to defeat ultimately those who are in Him, and we have nothing to fear from our Father, for in Christ we have been reconciled to God. In prayer, ask the Lord to remind you of this victory and to give you true joy. Endeavor to live peaceably without compromising the truth. If you are tempted to be quarrelsome, make peace instead.
Passages for Further Study
Hab. 3:17-19; Zech. 6:9-15; Rom. 14:17; 1 Thess. 1:6