James lays out a simple concept.
“Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18
Simple, of course, until it’s time to implement. If you’ve ever been in a disagreement, you know how quickly conversations can lead to miscommunication and conflict. I don’t know about you, but before I know it, I find myself hurling “truth” bombs instead of sowing peace. Then I sit back and wonder how it fell apart and unraveled so quickly. Anyone else?
Relationships are tricky. Communication can be difficult. Conflict is inevitable. While I would never attempt to give you three simple steps to achieve peace in every situation (I am not a miracle worker or therapist), I would like to unpack four main points that will help us sow peace in every situation. As it turns out, this passage was very timely for me; I am learning to sow peace right along with you.
1. Sowing peace is difficult work.
- It doesn’t come naturally. Selfish ambition comes naturally and if we’re going to sow seeds of peace, we must adopt humility instead (vs. 13-14).
- If it doesn’t come naturally, it must come supernaturally.
2. Sowing peace is necessary work.
- Our relationships with others help reflect the nature of God.
John 13:35 reminds us, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
I think Satan is intent on ruining anything that proves our love for Christ and reflects our identity as disciples. Sowing peace is worth it, not only for our own relationships but for the way we reflect God to others.
- We are told to do it.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
3. Sowing peace starts with work inside yourself.
James 4:1 tells us that quarrels are the result of battles inside us. Therefore, no matter the conflict, no matter how ridiculous and wrong the other person is, the ability to sow peace must start with you, start with me, and it starts by acquiring heavenly wisdom.
Heavenly wisdom is the source of everything you will need to wage the battle inside.
Each of these is a characteristic of heavenly wisdom and a necessary tool for planting seeds of peace.
Heavenly wisdom is… (v. 17)
- Pure: Peace depends on the purity of your heart, it reflects the purity of God.
- Peace Loving: Peace depends on you wanting, valuing, and loving peace. I’ll be honest, this one is difficult for me.… more than one college professor suggested I become a lawyer. Few things give me a greater thrill than winning a debate. If we love the fight more than peace, we will not sow seeds of peace.
- Considerate: Peace depends on your ability to be thoughtful of others’ feelings.
- Submissive: Peace depends on your ability to listen to others
- Full of mercy: Peace depends on your ability to extend generous mercy, which reflects the character of our merciful God.
- Impartial and Sincere: Peace depends on your ability to be fair and genuine.
This seems like a long list of things I’m not really good at (perhaps I will quit writing and become a lawyer). No wonder sowing peace is so difficult, right? But this is not a list of things we need to learn on our own, or develop all by ourselves. Each of these traits comes from heavenly wisdom and heavenly wisdom comes from God alone.
The fantastic news is God gives us heavenly wisdom and he is not stingy with it.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
We can't plant what we don't have. When God plants his wisdom in our hearts, we can then become the planters. God’s work inside us will enable us to sow seeds of peace.
Pray with me:
“Lord, I want to plant seeds of peace. Equip me with your heavenly wisdom because I cannot do this on my own. Help me to have a pure heart, love peace, be considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial and sincere.”
4. Sowing peace is work that yields a harvest.
Planting and harvest is a common theme throughout scripture and James uses this metaphor as well: planting seeds of peace yields a harvest. It produces something. It is work that is not wasted.
Sowing peace may not yield the harvest you thought it would. Relationships aren’t always restored. Sometimes the end result is agreeing to disagree agreeably. But we are told there will be a harvest, so keep on planting.
The harvest is one of righteousness, or acting in a way that is pleasing to God. It is more heavenly wisdom. At the very least, we can count on seeing a positive change in ourselves if we allow God to work in us.
Now that’s a good harvest.