How to cultivate a harvest of righteousness

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:13-18

What is the solution to our vile and cantankerous society? We seem to have lost the ability to have a civil discussion when there is any disagreement on much of anything.

Last week I wrote about the attribute of God known as wisdom. Wisdom is one of the attributes of God that can show up in humans. We can, to some degree, imitate the wisdom of God. I believe this is part of what is meant that humans are created in the image of God. There are some of God’s attributes that also show up in humans. To the extent that we are far from God, we generally tarnish the image of God in us.

James really cuts to the chase. It is easy, using his standards, to see who exemplifies wisdom; by his conduct. First, wise conduct is referred to as meek.

Things that are antithetical to wisdom are bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. That sounds like James has been to a political convention. Of course, these kinds of heart diseases are not limited to politicians. We can all be infected. James goes on to state the source and result of this disease; it is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. These things produce disorder and every vile practice. It is clear this does not reflect the wisdom of God. People behaving in this manner have severely tarnished the image of God in their lives.

God’s wisdom, shining through a human, looks like this: it is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. Wow! Have you seen much of that lately? I hope so. But it doesn’t show up in the headlines much. That kind of conduct does not characterize our culture. But if we who are carriers of the good news are going to have good results, that is how we are to sow the seed of the gospel. Look at James’ conclusion to this paragraph.

“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Consider that the harvest here is the result of sowing the seed of the gospel in the lives of other people around us who do not know Christ. What has fascinated me for years is the fact that the quality of the harvest is determined by the quality of the seed sowing. It is sown in peace by those who make peace; that is those whose lives are characterized by Godly wisdom. I don’t believe it means that only people who have great Godly wisdom will be able to see people come to Christ when sharing the gospel. Not at all. God’s word will do its work even if we are poor messengers. It is the power of the message that saves, not the purity of the vessel. What I do believe, however, is that as the discipleship process takes place, those of us who are sharing Christ with a new believer will “infect” them with the kind of character that we exemplify. Are we sowing in peace as peacemakers? Or, are we filled with bitter jealousy and selfish ambition? To some degree, our character will rub off on to new believers and either result in a harvest of righteousness (righteous conduct) or some other kind.

Once in a while, it is good to stop and reflect a little. Does your life reflect the wisdom that is from above that is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere? Or, is your life more reflective of that wisdom that is filled with jealousy and selfish ambition?

We serve the only wise God. By his grace, and our Holy Spirit empowered repentance, we can reflect our wise God. Need we repent a little? I know I need to be regularly reminded. How about you?

 

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  • Ted Hamilton

    Good words, Charles — and very relevant to our times. Also personally convicting!

    • Thanks, Ted. I find it easier to write about issues I have had to deal with. This Scripture has been a favorite of mine for years.