A word with a great history
"... the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds ..." (v.7)
We pass now from considering love and joy to the third fruit of the Spirit -- peace. The order is an inspired one: first, love -- love is preeminent; then joy -- joy comes as a result of love; and then peace -- peace is joy grown quiet and assured. A preacher once drew a comparison between joy and peace: "Joy is peace with its hat thrown high in the air and peace is joy with its arms folded in serene assurance." How beautiful!William Barclay says that the word "peace" (Greek: eiriene) came into the New Testament with a great history. It is a translation of the Hebrew word shalom, meaning peace. In classical Greek, "peace" was mainly negative, implying freedom from war or hostilities, but in the New Testament, the word gathers up positive elements such as are seen in shalom. The central meaning is serenity and harmony. "Peace" occurs eighty-eight times in the New Testament, and it appears in every book. This makes the New Testament a book of peace.
The peace of which we are speaking here is not something that can be manufactured. We cannot make it -- any more than we can make the other fruit of the Spirit. It is divinely and supernaturally given -- a glorious consequence of God's presence in the soul. Jesus knew this kind of peace and He offers the same serenity to every one of His disciples: "My peace I give to you ... Let not your hearts be disquieted or timid" (John 14:27
, Moffatt). Remember this -- when you remain in Him, you have access to a peace that not only passes understanding -- but all misunderstanding also.
Prayer: Father, I am conscious that the peace You desire to give me is a peace that reaches down to the depths of my being. Help me to open up those depths to You today. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What was the heart-cry of the psalmist?
2. What was God's promise to him?