The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27
During these summer months, we’ve been studying the fruit of the Spirit here at Parkside and most recently, explored the nature of peace. We were both helped and challenged by Paul’s instruction to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
It’s not unusual to come across people who tell us that they’re stressed out. I recently Googled the American Institute of Stress and found an exhaustive list of potential remedies for anxiety. Included among them are acupuncture, aromatherapy, listening to music, volunteer work, keeping a daily journal, laughter, nutritional supplements, and playing with pets. The website goes on to explain that the best way to reduce stress, however, is to avoid it altogether! Suggestions for accomplishing this include getting enough sleep, eating a proper diet, avoiding excess caffeine, and taking time out to relax.
In light of all of this, we might expect our culture to be marked by a peculiar sense of tranquility. Which of course, it is not.
Thankfully, the Gospel gives us a real and permanent solution to fear and worry. There is only one source of lasting peace; and it is not found in a philosophy, or through physical therapy, or by engaging in an activity, but it is found in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the cross, the debt for sin has been settled once and for all. Our past is forgiven. Our present standing is in grace. Our future is not in question. The passions and desires of this world no longer dictate our joy.
Paul’s counsel here is good to remember when we find ourselves slipping into a state of apprehension and fear. Living out the Gospel means that we relinquish daily burdens to God by praying with supplication and thanksgiving. While our prayers may not always be answered according to our desires, we can trust that God loves us, provides what’s best for us, and, as Paul assures, grants peace beyond understanding.
Along the lines of living out the Gospel, our resource this month is titled Lessons For Life: The Collection. It comes on a USB drive and addresses Gospel-centered insights for everyday life. This compilation of messages was originally presented to college students and covers biblical instruction on issues like friendship, jealously, making the most of every opportunity, temptation, and trusting God in every situation. The messages can easily be downloaded and the USB drive then shared.
By now, you’re familiar with how much care and attention we give to the resources we select so that you benefit from the material. Let me encourage you to request your copy.