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Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness…
I abruptly halted my reading of James 3. Something about verse 18 captured my attention, tugging at my heart. In that moment, it wouldn’t have shocked me if God cleared His throat and began to tell me something important. I was listening.
Was it the planting imagery that gave me pause? Perhaps my new fascination with growing succulents, spider plants, and golden pothos on my windowsill was seeping into my study time. Or maybe childhood years in rural farm country surrounded by fields and a backyard garden rooted the analogy in my mind. But I was pretty sure that something else pulled at my spirit, a word that appeared twice in the short sentence- peace.
The past few years have been anything but peaceful. So many of us are navigating personal chaos against the backdrop of a world in varying states of turmoil. Here, my days have been consumed with work at church, maintaining mental health, trying to write a book while reaching out to new readers, supporting loved ones, and dealing with life’s challenges as a single woman. All the while, the effects of a pandemic unfurl, politics rage, and more needs spring up in the community. I long for peace that lasts longer than a moment.
And God supplies it.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
This is a promise from Jesus, the most trustworthy promise maker. In the preceding verse, He explains how the Holy Spirit will teach us and remind us of God’s truth. When we seek peace, we can reach out to the source, the compassionate Prince of Peace Himself, who is always with us.
In the moments that I experience this supernatural peace, I both cherish it and fear that it is fleeting. How do we hold on to precious peace once we’ve received it? How can God’s peace not become lost in the whirlwinds around us? This is where James 3:18 caught my heart. When we’re given seeds of peace, perhaps we don’t merely hold them. We plant them.
Because then peace can grow.
Jesus declared in a hillside sermon that peacemakers are blessed children of God. Paul encouraged us to live at peace with everyone. And James told us to sow peace so that righteousness can bloom. What does this mean?
We plant seeds of peace in small moments of kindness. We sow it when we respond to anger with gentleness. We establish it when we approach difficult conversations with the intent to listen and hear the heart of another instead of trying to win a debate or prove a point. Peace is rooted in caring for our communities, pursuing justice, and praying for our enemies. The Holy Spirit gives us an endless supply and we distribute it to those we encounter.
Once we sow this peace, we are no longer in control of its growth. Just as we share it, the Holy Spirit empowers others to extend that gift of peace to someone else. The seed sprouts and develops branches, as if watered each time it’s offered to another. Then it grows as God softens hearts, comforts pain, and extends His love.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (1 Corinthians 3:7)
Paul described sharing the gospel as a plant analogy. He established a church, then a teacher named Apollos continued to nurture maturing believers. Yet, like humans merely care for seeds in the ground, only God has the power to make them grow. So it is with the peace we sow.
A farmer doesn’t prepare a field then abandon it. When the time is right, they enjoy the fruits of harvest. James tells us that our peace yields righteousness. Like the celebration of harvest, we can rejoice in a crop of God’s goodness! We might find it closer relationships, thriving communities, or enemies transformed into friends. We can look for blessings in the places we sowed peace. The season of growth might be long or short, but we can wait with expectant hope, certain that it will be ripe and ready in God’s perfect time.
My windowsill garden is growing (partly because I keep adding new pots of plants). As I care for each sprout, I pray for the Holy Spirit’s gift of peace and the opportunity to plant its seeds. I’ll delight in flourishing succulents as I celebrate the joy of a harvest of righteousness around me. The first seed I’ll plant? Sharing this with you, praying that you experience the presence of the Spirit and find your heart full of God’s peace to sow.