James 3:18

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:18

In the previous verse, James described “the wisdom that is from above.” In his list, he said that it is “full of mercy and good fruits.” Now he takes that concept to discuss one of those fruits, beginning with, “Now the fruit of righteousness.”

This is a term found first in the book of Proverbs. There Solomon says –

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls 
is wise.” Proverbs 11:30

It is seen again in Amos –

Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plow there with oxen?
Yet you have turned justice into gall,
And the fruit of righteousness into wormwood.” Amos 6:12

The term is found elsewhere in the Old Testament in various forms, and it is found several more times in various forms in the New Testament. Paul speaks of it in Philippians 1:11 –

“…being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

James is taking these examples from the body of literature he was aware of (meaning the Old Testament), and he is using them to express in his own way the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. There Jesus said –

“Blessed are the peacemakers,

For they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Jesus speaks of those who make peace, and the result of that. This continues with his words which explain that the fruit of righteousness “is sown in peace by those who make peace.” One must sow in order to have something come up from the soil. When one plants in peace (contrasted to the “envy and self-seeking” of verse 3:15), the fruit of righteousness will spring forth.

The sense of James’ words is that there is a plant (or tree) called “Righteousness.” That is what will spring forth when planted by those who make peace. When peace is made, the sowing of Righteousness is done in peace, and the result of that process issues forth Righteousness. This is the heavenly wisdom which arises and it is revealed in the many traits mentioned in verse 3:17.

Life application: Just as a sower needs good soil and the right conditions for his grain to be plentiful, James says that we will produce a harvest of righteousness when we sow in peace. Sowing seed in an environment of envy and self-seeking leads to chaos and complete dissatisfaction in our lives.

But if we turn our attitude towards peace and contentment instead, what will spring forth is a righteous life which is honoring to God. The amazing thing about this is that so many people hear this type of admonition week after week in sermons and then walk out of the church with their ears still closed to the very message that can actually bring about the joy they are missing in their lives.

Jesus didn’t speak his words for “somebody else,” and James isn’t relaying this message for “another time and place.” These things pertain to our lives, right here and right now. The world we live in is materialistically centered, and our priorities get completely out of whack with envy as new innovations come out almost daily. Our eyes are never satisfied with what we have and there is simply no peace in our lives.

But if we can just set aside these motivations and seek after peace and contentment, there we will find the better harvest James speaks about. We are only given one chance to get this life right, so look to the wisdom James relates – your harvest will be wonderful.

Glorious God – turn us into peacemakers who bear good fruit in this life. May we not spend our time rushing after worldly possessions and chasing after the latest things. It is time for us to direct our eyes, our hearts, and our souls to raising a harvest of righteousness which will be to Your glory and for our eternal happiness. Hear our prayer, O God. Amen.

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