“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Rom. 14:17
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Rom. 15:13
HOPE. JOY. PEACE. These are words people tend to talk and write about around Christmas, right? Oftentimes they get dropped or little regarded anyway for the rest of the year. Sure, we toss them around occasionally. We may pray for them a bit. We may experience them periodically. One or the other or some combination of them. Maybe all three. For a while. Or not at all. But do we really understand what is promised us when we repent of our lifestyles of sin and devote our lives to Christ whom we believe is Lord and in whom we place our faith and trust?
Is not our greatest challenge regarding HOPE, JOY & PEACE that we tend to make them contingent on the conditions and circumstances of our daily lives? For example, we expect to experience them in the holiday season. Births, weddings, promotions, vacations, celebrations, successes, new jobs, new houses, being bailed out of jail, getting off the streets, becoming free from addictions, a good church service or Bible study, a winning sports season, a beautiful sunrise, watching a tranquil ocean on a gorgeous day, etc. All of this is fleeting though, isn’t it? As soon as it goes away, does not our hope, joy, & peace fall off or fall away altogether?
I used to be offended by a beloved pastor who was always hopeful, joyful, and peaceful. None of his circumstances, no matter how trying, disturbed his hope, joy, and peace. In retrospect, I was offended because I couldn’t understand, couldn’t relate, was jealous, and convicted that my self-pity, complaining, roller coaster emotions, and other sins consumed me while I was missing God’s promises and missing the opportunity to spread Christ’s love, hope, joy, and peace to others like he was.
Surely he just had an easier life, better circumstances, and had been born with a happy, positive personality, right? Wrong! The Kingdom of God, God’s sheepfold, an everlasting relationship with God, the promise of heaven, this is for those who repent of their sins and believe in and follow Christ as Lord. Christ followers are promised the gift of God’s Spirit and can ask for His Spirit and receive continual fillings of His Spirit. By His filling we can have the hope, joy, and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The hope of being with God forever and the joy and peace of knowing Him intimately as we devote our lives to Christ. None of this is contingent on anything on this earth, but on Christ who is our life and His Spirit who lives inside us who have received and follow the Lord Jesus Christ!