Devotion for the Week...
Welcome back for the next installment in the devotion series on the fruit of the Spirit! If you're just joining in, you can go back and read the introduction, then about love and about joy to get all caught up :)
Once again, here is our verse for this devotion series: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23).
As you can see in our verse, this week we're talking about peace. There are a lot of different types of peace that we could consider - peace in the world, peace in our families and peace with God - but as I thought about this week's devotion I kept thinking of peace within ourselves. I'm thinking about the kind of peace that comes when our minds are settled and relaxed, when we're not worrying over this, that or a million other things.
We all worry. Some of us more than others, but we all do it at least some of the time. According to the Google dictionary, worry means "give way to anxiety or unease; allow one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles." Worrying means you just kind of camp your mind in your problems (real or potential) and stay there. The problem with worrying, of course, is that it really doesn't accomplish anything. It doesn't change our circumstances or prevent future trouble from finding us or provide us with something we're lacking. It only drains the energy out of today.
Jesus asked, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" (Luke 12:25,26). I've always loved that first question because it points out the utter pointlessness of worrying. No matter how much we worry, we can't change a thing about our lives.
In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us again not to worry. Specifically, He tells us not to worry about our lives, about what we will eat or drink, about our bodies and about what we will wear (v. 25). Verse 32 says, "For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them" and that, right there, is the reason we don't need to waste our time worrying. God knows about the things we need.
The antidote to worrying, as Jesus presents it? "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (v. 33). Seeking his kingdom and his righteousness, to me, means trying to serve God to the best of our ability and if our minds are focused on that, then there's not much room for worrying.
Focusing on serving God reminds us that while our worrying can't change one single thing about our lives, God can. Remember when Jesus asked if we could add an hour to our lives by worrying? He referred to that as doing a 'very little thing'! Doesn't that just shout about the power of God? It is a simple thing for Him to extend a person's life. He did it for King Hezekiah, in 2 Kings 6, adding 15 years to the king's life.
If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our lives, that means we will need to pay attention to the Spirit and sometimes that's going to mean turning off the constant worrying in our minds and choosing instead to focus on God, to walk beside His Spirit, so to speak. When we do that, we remember the power of God (for whom nothing is impossible!), which calms the turmoil and pointless anxiety that could otherwise grip our lives.
And that brings peace! Isaiah wrote, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you" (Isaiah 26:3). Perfect peace. That's certainly fruit worth growing!