James 3:18 – And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.
James writes that peace is a necessity among the believers. Taken in the context of to whom this letter was written, this is bold exhortation, indeed. These were the twelve tribes scattered among the nations, and believers who were currently undergoing persecution for their faith in Messiah.
James 1:2-3 – Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
To these believers undergoing harsh testing and being judged and challenged by their brothers and their families, James encourages peace. It was not the believer’s place to reflexively react to oppression and disunity around them. James encourages calmness at every turn as a demonstration of the righteous actions of God.
James 1:19-20 – My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
The righteousness of God, according to James, is based on the wisdom of God.
James 3:13-14, 17 – Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. … But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.
James is encouraging gentleness in the pursuit of righteousness. God’s wisdom is “pure and peace-loving.” This is an echo of the words of Yeshua when he pronounced how the peacemakers would be considered children of God (Matthew 5:9). Contextually, Yeshua’s teaching on peacemaking is also in the context of persecution:
Matthew 5:10-12 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. “Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
As believers, we can only exhibit true peace and gentleness when confronted with their opposites. When all is peaceful and calm, there is no admonition needed to peacemaking. However, when all is chaos, bitterness and unforgiveness, to remain a peacemaker in these environments becomes a testimony to the inward righteousness one has from God. This is where the believer becomes a witness to the truth of God’s wisdom. This is why James can say that “fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.”
To be able to sow peace in tumultuous circumstances, one must be a cultivator of peace. This is a bedrock of the believing life, since there is no need to exacerbate chaos further. If we are looking for ways to bear fruit for
God, we should be looking for ways to sow seeds of peace into the fray of the daily culture we live in. Thereby, God’s wisdom is shown to be the pure truth that it is, and he will be glorified in those cultivators of peace that obey his word.
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