This guest post is by Jeffrey Kranz, who writes more Bible-study material at OverviewBible.com.
We’re going through the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23), a list of qualities the Holy Spirit produces in our lives. You can find plenty of books on the fruit of the Spirit, but in these posts I’m focusing on two things:
- What each fruit of the Spirit quality means
- A Bible character that sets a good example of that quality
We’ve already looked at love and joy. Now let’s look at peace and patience.
Fruit of the Spirit: peace
Quick question: when you think of peace, what comes to mind? Calm? Serenity?
Me, too. But when Paul lists peace as a fruit of the Spirit, he means literal peace (harmonious living with others), not just peace of mind. It’s the kind of peace we Christians are responsible for maintaining between one another (Ep 4:3).
Example of peace: James
James sets a good example of this kind of peace. James was the brother of Jesus, a leader in the early church, and probably the author of the book of James (not to be confused with the apostle James, the son of Zebedee).
Back in the book of Acts, the church was dealing with a serious question: “do Gentiles who convert to Christianity need to be circumcised, and do they need to observe the Law of Moses?”
There was a lot of debate on the issue (Ac 15:5–7). The former Pharisees are sure the old law is necessary. But according to Peter, Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace, so why put the Gentiles under the rules that the Jews never could keep?
James stands up and makes a call:
- The Gentiles don’t need to be circumcised or put under all the Mosaic customs
- They should abstain from certain foods and from sexual immorality.
This compromise sets everyone at peace again: the apostles are in agreement, and the story moves on.
That’s a serious example of peace, folks. James handled a hot-button issue in a way that honored God and made peace in a heated debate.
Imagine what it would be like if more of us followed James’ example. We’re not all church leaders, but we can follow the Spirit and look for ways to bring peace to those around us.
Fruit of the Spirit: patience
When I think of patience, I think of how little of it I have when I get behind the steering wheel. But in Galatians 5:22, patience isn’t just about waiting for time to go by.
It’s about putting up with hardship . . . for as long as it takes.
James (the gentleman we just met) uses one famous character from the Old Testament as an example of patience . . .
Example of patience: Job
. . . and who better (Ja 5:11)? Even if you’ve never read the Bible, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Job.
“The patience of Job” is an English idiom for a good reason. Here’s an overview of his story:
- Job is a righteous (and very rich) man who worships God (Jo 1:1–3).
- Satan bets that Job will curse God if he loses everything (Jo 1:9–11, 2:4–5).
- Job loses everything, but his faith in God holds out (Jo 1:22, 2:10, 42:8).
This guy had patience. He wasn’t perfect. In fact, he flat out complains that God is afflicting him for no good reason at some points. But through it all, Job’s faith is in God—no matter what happens.
This is the kind of patience the Spirit gives us.
A few thoughts on peace and patience
Looking at these biblical heroes challenges me:
- When I disagree with someone, do I strive to make peace or to prove them wrong?
- Does my behavior in blog comments or on Twitter promote peace or partisanship?
- How long am I willing to put up with hardship?
Of course, these examples are still fallible humans. They do help us see what peace and patience look like in real life, though.
Who are your examples?
Which Bible character (or Christian figure, for that matter) comes to mind for you when you think of peace or patience? I’d love to hear about it.
Coming up next: kindness and goodness!