16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest
and the city is leveled completely,
20 how blessed you will be,
sowing your seed by every stream,
and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.
True righteousness comes from God. Our world extols human virtue, but they always fall short of the greater virtues of God. The world clamors for tolerance. God calls for love. Love is a higher virtue because love goes beyond the "live and let live" mindset. Love means giving up your life for another. The world calls for rights to be protected. God calls for grace. Rights are focused on giving others what they deserve. Grace goes beyond that to the point of giving others more than they deserve. The world calls for happiness. God calls for joy. Happiness is a feeling that comes and goes as our needs are met. Joy is the permanent residue of our abiding relationship with God. God's virtues reflect the best of His Kingdom not the best of ours.
How can we tell the difference between the authentic and the pleasant counterfeit? Verse 17 says that the "fruit of righteousness is peace". When we tap into the eternal ways of God it brings peace to our lives. Peace is a deep and abiding inner stillness that comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Peace is not circumstantial or fleeting. In fact, a true sign of peace is that it remains even in the presence of turmoil and tension (like the hail mentioned in verse 19). Does your heart hunger for "undisturbed places of rest"? Don't settle for less than all of God who is our righteousness. Press into the goodness of God. Ask him to form your desires around things that will endure.
Is the fruit of my current endeavors producing peace?
Father, my heart is often troubled. As I reflect on this, I realize how much of what is unsettled within me is not the fruit of your work, but of mine. I ask you to move my life toward peace, security, and rest. I realize that to have your righteousness means giving up my self-righteousness. Grant me the grace to leave the familiar for the unknown.