James 3:16-18 – “For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.”
In this passage, James expresses how believers are expected to be promoting the “wisdom from above” by exhibiting peace when all around them is disorder and evil practice. This peace-making is contrasted with environments created by envy or misplaced zeal and selfish ambition; that is, seeking personal gain over doing what’s right.
While the original audience of this message was suffering intense persecution in their scattered locations throughout the world, it appears we as believers are still experiencing challenging environments that are created by similar expressions of misplaced zeal and seeking of personal gain.
We see the confusion and disorder in the various cultural climates of the world, especially here in America. The divisiveness of cultural topics is at a fever pitch in almost every arena of public opinion, fueled by the instantaneous and ubiquitous communication available through social media. Almost everything that people participate in on the internet is about self-promotion for the purpose of personal gain, and these myopic trends are now spilling over into real life experiences. All of the various platforms are specifically designed in this fashion of fostering diverse opinion in order to maintain engagement for the benefit of the companies creating those infrastructures.
How in the world can believers promote peace in an environment of confusion and the constant digital onslaught of those who are only out for selfish gain? Well, James gives us some “wisdom from above” in order for us to cultivate peace. Looking at some of the expanded definitions of the original words may provide us some insights for implementation in our own spheres of influence.
James 3:17 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.
- Pure: clean, modest, innocent, perfect. It is derived from the word typically translated as holy.
- Peace-loving: peaceable, disposed to peace, quietness, rest and wholeness. In the Hebraic tradition, an invocation of peace as a farewell greeting: shalom.
- Gentle: mild, forbearing, appropriate.
- Compliant: well-persuaded, already willing or inclined to help.
- Full of mercy: to be filled with pity and compassion.
- Good fruits: positive results of good and helpful actions.
- Unwavering: unambiguous, undivided, whole-hearted, impartial
- Without pretense: unfeigned, without hypocrisy, sincere.
James concludes by saying that the fruit of righteousness is gained through those who sow these types of peaceful actions. As we engage with those around us with these qualities, we expand righteousness (for ourselves and others) rather than continuing a death-spiraling cycle of confusion and selfishness. When we can find ways to implement these qualities in our daily interactions with the world in real life and on various communication platforms, we can then become the peacemakers within the kingdom of righteousness that Yeshua desires his followers to be.
Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
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