Becoming influencers of peace

Believers have the ability and responsibility to expand the righteousness of the Kingdom.

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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Involving God’s word and his Spirit in all of your ways

Ancient wisdom which provides continual direction and guidance within the will of God.

Proverbs 14:8 – The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

Vigilance of thought is one of the most challenging yet most rewarding aspects of a believer’s life. The thoughts and plans we have will reveal what is truly in our hearts. To lead a life that is constantly focused on defrauding others or finding ways to exploit relationships is one that is bound to fail. In this proverb, Solomon illustrates this way as “folly.”

According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew lexicon, this type of individual demonstrates characteristics of always being morally bad, one who:

  • despises wisdom & discipline
    • Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    • Proverbs 15:5 – A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
  • mocks at guilt
    • Proverbs 14:9 – Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.
  • is quarrelsome
    • Proverbs 20:3 – It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.
  • is licentious
    • Proverbs 7:7, 10, 21-23 – and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, … And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. … With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.
  • it is folly and useless to instruct him
    • Proverbs 16:22 – Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.
    • Proverbs 27:22 – Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him.

All of this speaks to the foolishness of the one who rejects wisdom and discipline. The proverb goes further, though, and explains that fools are deceiving. They will operate from a base of deception and exploitation of the weakness of others. Their continual mode of operation is selfish gain with no regard for the harmful effects on others. This in itself is a mode of self-deception, as well; thinking one can always simply manipulate a situation for their own gain.

By contrast, those believers who are vigilant in all their ways will seek to avoid these dead-ends of life by “discerning their way.” The Hebrew word for discerning means “to consider, perceive, understand, distinguish, have insight.” Just reviewing this list of words demonstrates that to discern one’s ways is a practice that takes time and careful thought. Fools may rush in, as the old saying goes, but it’s the wise who take their time to review the consequences of their actions. Only then will they take the appropriate course of action.

One of the key benefits of this practice that I have seen in my own life is having peace about momentous decisions which need to be made. When I feel pressured to make a big decision about something, whether it is a large purchase or a career move, I have learned to ensure that I do not arrive at a hasty decision. Anything that presents itself as urgent immediately goes into a “consideration buffer.” Through meditation on God’s word and through prayer, the correct ways will ultimately present themselves.

The apostle Paul related this principle to the Ephesian congregation, as well.

Ephesians 5:15-18 – Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

He represents how paying careful attention to how a believer should walk involves understanding the Lord’s will and being filled with the Spirit. Being vigilant with our actions means that we are taking the time to involve God in all of our decisions in life. We are examples to others of how God’s goodness and mercy watch over us and protect us from every false way.

Psalm 119:103-104 – How sweet your word is to my taste — sweeter than honey in my mouth. I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:127-128 – Since I love your commands more than gold, even the purest gold, I carefully follow all your precepts and hate every false way.

Hating every false way means there is a high dependence on the truth of God’s word. If Paul related the days were evil in his day, how much more we need to vigilantly follow his advice, and the advice of Solomon and the Psalmist, today: “Pay careful attention as to how you walk, discerning your way, carefully following God’s precepts.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.