The autumn sun cast a warm glow across the living room floor, where I sat in the midst of a group of 10 strangers. We were visiting a small group from a new church for the first time, and we were going around the room, taking turns reading as we worked through the book of James. As my turn approached, I felt apprehensive. I am a natural introvert, and though I’m a good reader, the thought of fumbling words in front of a room of people I’d just met had me on edge. Still, I bucked up and began to read.
My portion was from James 3, the wisdom that comes from above. I read over the familiar words about jealousy and selfish ambition, not giving much thought as I worked my way through carefully (so as not to embarrass myself). Then I came to the last verse, a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:18 ESV).
Peace. What did I know of peace? Here I was in a group of strangers. Again. You see, we have recently moved to a new town – our 7th move in my husband and I’s five years of marriage. Seven moves – some across town, some cross country. Add to that mix two babies. From the moment we said “I do,” it’s felt like a whirlwind of change, so peace sometimes fell between the cracks of chaos and mayhem.
I don’t know about you, but seasons of sudden change bring out the worst in this Type-A, planner of a gal. I get anxious, overbearing, irritable. Yet, the words of that verse stuck with me the rest of that day. And the next day. And the one after that. They would emerge at random moments, and I would roll them over in my mind. Since it was the beginning of fall, messages of harvest were everywhere. I was at my local crafts store, browsing the fall home décor, when it struck me: A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
God met me right there in the 40% off section to open my eyes to an area of sin in my life. I had not been making peace with the recent changes. Though my mind trusts in God’s sovereignty, including this move, my heart was still striving against it. Why? I think James explains it: worldliness. My attachment to my world was sowing discord in my heart. You see, James says that as we seek friendship with this world, we move further and further away from sowing peace with God. In fact, loving the world makes us enemies of God himself. This isn’t a harvest of righteousness – it’s spiritual drought.
We all do this – we all chase stuff. We all choose between the love of God and love of the world, and left on our own, we would choose the world every time. But God gives more grace. He seeks us, woos us, and draws near to us as we come to him humbly – cleansing us and purifying our hearts through the gift of repentance. So that, a harvest of righteousness is sown in in our lives by God himself, who in his grace makes peace with us through his Son, Jesus Christ.