For the last year or two I've used the YouVersion app as a resource in addition to a printed Bible. While I still much prefer reading actual books, it is wonderfully convenient to have access to Scripture and other books on a smart phone or a pad, especially when traveling.
This year I also signed up to receive daily emails with a verse of the day. I normally read the verse, and appreciate the daily reminders of some of the great promises of God.
This week one of the verses was Isaiah 32:17:
And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. (ESV)
First, I always encourage people to read in context, so I won't miss the opportunity to invite you to read all of chapter 32 of the prophet Isaiah. There are some amazing promises, some specific warnings, and one of the best descriptions of what government should do that I have ever seen. Curious? Well, go look it up! You'll find the description of government's function in verses 1 and 2.
Verse 17 was powerful for me. What is the result of faith? How do we know if someone is experiencing a life shaped by God? What is actually produced in the lives of those who follow Jesus?
As a young disciple I was introduced to the New Testament answer to those questions, found in Galatians 5:22-23.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)
This is one of those big-theme passages in Scripture, worthy of memorization. So I memorized it, and quickly moved on. After all, there were arguments to win, people to persuade, information to absorb, content to deliver, and other manner of selfish idolatry in which to indulge.
I knew the concept, in other words, but I never stopped to think about the intent. THIS is what God wants to see in me. THIS is what I'm supposed to look like. Oh, and by the way....this is what you're supposed to look like too. When someone sees you. When someone talks to you. When you face a crisis. When an enemy attacks. When you're successful. When you fail. When you hurt. When you celebrate. We are redeemed for an intended result, and that result is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
In the famous words of Dr. Phil, how's that working for you?
So now, here comes Isaiah, reminding me (and you) that this isn't just a New Testament concept! God had it in mind in the Old Testament, too! One of the words is the same- peace. Not the absence of conflict, but the presence of God in every circumstance. The other words, quietness and trust, sound very much like the intent of Paul's words in Galatians.
It is easy to make Christianity about doctrine, or information, or arguments. The world is not convinced, and God is not amused. God wants something more from us.
Something to think about, and the journey continues. I have a long way to go.