Fruit of the Spirit: Peace
Jesus says in Matt. 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” As citizens of God’s kingdom, we should be peacemakers. But what kind of peace is Jesus talking about? How can we be sure we are really pursuing peace? How can we be sure the peace we are pursuing truly reflects the nature and character of God?
Peter provides a six-point plan for peace in I Peter 3:8-9.
Harmony is the goal: The world views relationships as disposable. But in the Kingdom of God, we value one another. Because our God is a God of peace, the goal is harmony and unity (Rom. 12:16; II Cor. 13:11). But when disagreements arise, we often lose sight of the goal. Instead of pursuing harmony, we pursue victory and control. Let us not sacrifice the true goal of harmony to get an immediate victory.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Most of us spend our time trying to be understood. How do we do that? We interrupt, bully, intimidate, and guilt people. Before we work on being understood, we need to work on our “sympathy” (I Pet. 3:8, ESV). “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
Behave with brotherly love: If peace will depend on us, we must let brotherly love govern our behavior (Rom. 12:10). What does that look like? Paul tells us Eph. 4:31-32 and Col. 3:8-9, 12-14. Peace always seeks what is right. Biblical peace does not condone sin. It condemns sin.
Show compassion: We are a group of wounded people. We’ve all been wounded by the world, sin, and Satan. You might think of this as a hospital, as opposed to a museum of perfect people. Peter says to respond to these problems with a tender heart or with compassion. Compassion is more than feeling sorry for someone. Compassion is actively working to help the hurting (Luke 10:33).
Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought: I need to have a humble mind (Rom. 12:3). I need to get over myself. An honest, self-examination will lead to true humility (Phil. 2:3-4). That will enable me to hold others above myself, my possessions, my agenda, and my plans.
Do all of this, even when others don’t: When others do not follow Peter’s keys for peace, we do anyway (Rom. 12:18). Making peace is always intentional. Peace happens because we make it happen. A Christian’s aim should be to live peaceably.
— Steven Matthews