Several months ago I did a series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Several weeks ago in the Pastoral prayer I mentioned two of the fruits that are ours as Christians: peace and joy. The reason I did this is that I have recently been talking to a fellow Christian who said that due to the circumstances in their life they have had no peace or joy. If we are Christians this cannot be true. In Matthew 12:33, Jesus said: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” The sinful nature produces sin because it was a bad tree to start with. The Spirit, by contrast is a good tree producing lush and abundant virtue. The Fruit of the Spirit is…peace and joy.
First of all what is joy? It is in the same Greek family of words as grace. What is grace? It is God’s undeserved favor. He lavishes His love upon us at all times regardless of our circumstances. God’s joy is not a fake smile or pretending things are okay when they’re not. It is not a response to some temporary pleasure. It is based on our rejoicing in our eternal identity in Jesus Christ. This is something that is with us always. We may not feel outwardly joyous but that should it no way quench the joy that Christ died to give us.
We should also be enjoying God’s peace at all times. In Philippians 4:7 the apostle Paul said: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” What is peace? Peace is defined as “the smile of God reflected in the soul of the believer. It is the heart’s calling after Calvary’s storm”. Isaiah said in 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.”
The Romans were used to the sight of Roman sentinels standing guard. They would guard government buildings so that no one could enter without permission. Metaphorically God’s peace will mount a guard at the door of our heart and mind. God’s peace will prevent threatening thoughts from entering our life. What are threatening thoughts? When I worry about things that may never happen. God’s peace gives us a calm in the trials that God sends us to strengthen our faith. His peace produces greater trust. Many times our circumstances cause us grief. It was brought about by our own pride; however, if we repent and confess our sin to God, we will be flooded with His peace even if there are consequences to my circumstances. What God teaches us in all circumstances in life is what we read in Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
The only way that we will deprive ourselves of the benefits of God’s fruit is when we as Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:19 “quench the Spirit”. What does this mean? The easiest way to illustrate this is to picture yourself turning on your hose in your yard, taking it to water your flowers and noticing only a trickle coming out. You wonder why so little water is coming out when you turned the faucet on full blast. You then look back and see that there is a knot in your hose and that’s why the water is not flowing. That is what it means to quench the Spirit. Therefore, we are not to smother the Holy Spirit in us by quenching its power.
Peace and joy be yours in the Holy Spirit.
See you Sunday.