“You who are Spiritual” (part four)
John D. Telgren

The next characteristic of spirituality that Paul lists in Galatians 5:22 is peace. A lack of peace is a sure sign that the flesh is winning the battle. Some of the characteristics of the flesh are the antithesis of peace.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are . . . enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions . . . (Gal 5:19-20)”

A fleshly person would have a difficult if not impossible task of restoring one in a spirit of gentleness especially when he is prone to disputes and strife. We are to pursue peace with all men. Peace is not limited to the mere absence of strife. In both Greek (eirene) and Hebrew (shalom), peace can mean wholeness and well being. So to “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another (Rom 14:19)” is proactive. It is quite a different thing to merely not stir up strife that it is to actively seek a brother’s well-being. For instance, Jesus taught,

"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' . . . But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty . . . Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering (Matt 5:21-24).”

Here, Jesus is teaching us to be proactive. Instead of merely not committing murder, he says to seek out the ones who have something against you and try to work it out. According to this passage, merely being angry or insulting your brother is a sin, and we need to pursue wholeness in our relationships when they have been injured in this way.

Jesus is the supreme example of a peaceful one who reconciled sinners to himself. Even though “we were by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3),” the Prince of Peace came and made peace with us. Unlike many previous violent visitations of God to his sinful people, Jesus came as the Lamb of God to make peace. Jesus did not come with guns blazing when he ate with sinners and tax collectors. He was the great physician who came to heal our relationship with God.

Jesus is the perfect example of what it means to have the spiritual quality of peace when we who are spiritual restore the erring in spirit of gentleness.