Notice James claims that the wisdom that comes from God is – yes, “chiefly” pure, but it is also peaceful and uncensorious. Someone who is censorious is highly fault-finding, super critical and apt to accuse the other. James says this is not a part of the wisdom of God. Instead the wise Christian is “courteous” and “always ready to be convinced!” In other words, willing to listen to the opposing arguments! including those which are blasphemous. Wisdom is not finger-pointing and back-biting (or stabbing). “Peace is the seed-ground of holiness.” Read that again! “Peace is the seed-ground of holiness.” Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see the kingdom of God.”
Whereas the wisdom which does come from above is marked chiefly indeed by its purity, but also by its peacefulness; it is courteous and ready to be convinced, always taking the better part; it carries mercy with it, and a harvest of all that is good; it is uncensorious, and without affectation. Peace is the seed-ground of holiness, and those who make peace will win its harvest. James 3:17-18KNOX
Who does this to Jesus? Is it the Romans? Is it Herod? Is it Pilate? Is it the Jews? (we hear this one, don’t we?) Is it me? Or you? Is it Satan? Is it God the Father?
“and all the while it was for our sins he was wounded, it was guilt of ours crushed him down; on him the punishment fell that brought us peace, by his bruises we were healed. Strayed sheep all of us, each following his own path; and God laid on his shoulders our guilt, the guilt of us all.”
Our sins put Jesus on the cross; that’s certain. But God the Father puts the guilt of our sins on His Son. Otherwise, we carry our guilt to the grave and beyond. Jesus’ bruises – the punishment He bears – free us from the same. Rather than anxiety, we gain peace.
Who does this? God the Father.
Do you suppose the Great Physician then decides to let us fall back into guilt? Wallow around it in like pigs? Shame on us if we even attempt to return to our squalor. For we are washed in His Son’s very blood.
The author of your hope – if you are a Christian – is God. He fills you with joy and peace “in your believing.” He desires for you to “hope in abundance.” You must recognize your hope comes “through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Perhaps you try to generate this joy and peace and hope through sheer will-power. Stop trying so hard. Jesus says, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He says, “I have come that you may have life, and that abundantly.” He promises, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. If it were not so, I would have told you.”
Therefore, Paul prays:
May God, the author of our hope, fill you with all joy and peace in your believing; so that you may have hope in abundance, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
God is a refuge in the day of trouble – of this there is no doubt.
His mercy comes in the morning. Ever notice? You go to sleep at night, perhaps with a weight on your chest and in the morning you may be briefly aware of peace, of an absence of worry and heaviness. God’s mercy rests on you instead. He’s given you a night of deep rest, of dreams you may or may not remember. He’s clothed you in His mercy, and for a moment, you may notice. Then you’re up, taking a shower, dressing in something presentable or classy or flashy to go out and about. The weight on your chest returns, sometimes with vengeance, sometimes with subtlety. But God’s mercy seems to drift off and you have no way of getting it back.
Sing to the Lord a new song, a song of praise, of song of recognition that He is merciful and full of grace. He is your stronghold, your mighty fortress, your rock and your redeemer. You live and breathe and walk about in His mercy. Without Him, you are nothing. Even Paul says that the Christian is to be pitied above all if our merciful God does not exist.
Sing to the Lord a new song.
But I will sing of thy power, and will praise thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
Not only does Jesus command that we love our brothers but that we love our enemies. I hear a lot about ‘tough’ love, but I don’t recall Jesus ever speaking of a love that’s anything but generous.
Yes, Jesus gets angry with the moneychangers in the temple and He chastises those who would profit from the woes of others. Yes, He scolds the Pharisees whose spiritual pride is a huge stumbling block to their walk with God.
Nevertheless, Jesus tells us to go two miles with the man who would force us to go one mile. He tells us to give our coat to the man who also demands our shoes. As far as it is up to us, Jesus calls us to live in peace with everyone.
“These things I have spoken to you, that ye have peace in me; in the world ye shall have dis-ease [in the world ye shall have pressing, or overlaying], but trust ye, I have overcome the world.”
Who has overcome the world? You? No. In the world, you are pressed; you are overlayed with burdens – your own and others’. Who has overcome the world? Jesus says, “Trust this truth; I have overcome the world.”
Where is your peace? Is it from you? No. Is it from your family? No. Jesus says, “You have peace in Me.” No, not from Jesus, but in Jesus!
Once again, I find myself in a tough situation. Many people are also in tough situations – financial, health, family, personal situations that are extremely difficult. Yet, God through His prophet Jeremiah reminds me again that even in my tough situation, God knows everything. He is in charge of everything. And, He is perfect. His perfection makes me believe I am going to be okay. Actually, more than okay. Something better always come out of adversity. Always.
God tells me:
“For I know the thoughts which I think on you, saith the Lord, the thoughts of peace, and not of torment, that I give to you an end and patience. (For I know the thoughts which I think about you, saith the Lord, the thoughts of peace, and not of torment, so that I shall give you a good ending.)”
What causes a Christian to stumble? God’s Word says that love of God’s Law gives “much peace” and “no cause of stumbling.” Doesn’t it follow, then, that when a Christian stumbles – I presume, sins – the cause is a lack of love for God’s Law.
So, what is God’s Law? Jesus says the greatest commandment (i.e. God’s Law) is to love the Lord your God with all the strength of your heart, your soul, your mind. And the second greatest is like it – it calls on the Christian to love his or her neighbor in the same manner as self-love.
Of course, it’s not enough to understand God’s Law. We must incorporate this law of Love into our very selves. If we love, it follows we will have peace and will have no reason to stumble.
Paul reminds that sin is anything done outside of faith. Faith is being certain of things unseen. My faith rests squarely on the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, and on absolutely nothing else. His Love – His ability to fully love – is what I rely upon. Outside of His Love, I am nothing.
“Much peace is to them that love thy law; and no cause of stumbling is to them. (There is much peace for those who love thy Law; and they have no reason to slip, or to stumble.)”