But the fruit of the Spirit is …
[May I have the envelope, please …]
Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
Do you need peace in your life? Are you experiencing conflict anywhere? Is there someone with whom you are not speaking? Are you at odds with a fellow believer, or someone in your family? Amazingly, conflict is most likely to be found in our own families, among those we know the best, and this season is when those conflicts are most likely to heighten. It is this type of conflict that this particular fruit of the Spirit is waiting for.
This peace being promised here is not quietness — it’s not the opposite of noise — it’s the opposite of conflict. In the Greek, the word translated as peace is derivative of a word which means to join. Therefore it is a coming together — a coming together of warring parties. Peace needs a war to mean anything. (This is why conflict isn’t so bad after all, because of what it gives rise to.)
You and I as followers of Christ in whom the fruit of the Spirit is being manifest are always looking for resolve. We don’t roll over and die for this, we seek consensus. We call for peace from a position of strength. It’s very important to see that this is not peace at all cost.
I grew up in a family that practiced peace at all cost, and the cost was high. The cost was avoidance of conflict. It was definitely peaceful in my family, but it was also a fake, dishonest sort of peace. It never resolved a conflict; it only buried it under a big pile of “niceness.” This is the worst because it forces conflict down inside where it can fester and grow and ultimately eat you up from the inside. This was not my family expressing the fruit of the Spirit, it was the fruit of the Spirit lying dormant because the conflict that would have drawn it out was avoided, never giving it an opportunity to apply itself. This wasn’t peace; it was a cold war.
I still struggle with this today, now that I am the head of my own house. It’s unfortunately how I learned to deal (or I should say: not deal) with things. It takes a lot of courage for me to face into conflict, but it’s the only way the fruit of the Spirit can show itself in my life. With a very strong-willed 17-year-old in the house, I face into conflict almost every day, or I avoid it. It’s the choice that’s ever before me.
May you find this peace this Christmas. May you be a peacemaker. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. And remember, conflict is best resolved through consensus, rather than compromise. In a compromise, parties have to give up things to come together. A consensus is more ideal because it involves both parties reaching for something higher. It’s creative; it’s compelling; it’s productive.
So conflict is not a bad thing. It’s an opportunity for us to reach for the fruit of the Spirit and find God there ready to say, “As you wish.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is … peace. Against such a thing there is no law.