Friday, September 21, 2012

A Harvest of Peace, James 3:13-18

James 3:13-18  Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.  Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.  For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. 

It's harvest time.  The beans are coming in right now.  Sure there’s a might be a few stragglers still harvesting winter or spring wheat and some early birds bringing in corn.  But right now, the harvest is all about beans.
The harvest comes at its proper time, fruit of the seeds that were sown.

James draws on the imagery of harvest to remind us that we really do reap what we sow  - or we reap what God sows in us.
God sows good seed, the Living Word planted deeply in our hearts.  The resulting harvest is reaped from bountiful fields of righteousness.  What kind of fruit do we find in these fields?  Wholesomeness, peace, gentleness, willingness to yield, mercy, hospitality.  We could add some more:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, generosity, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).  All are fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives tenderly nurturing the implanted Word of God.

Our own desires sow a very different kind of seed.  Envy and selfish-ambition and pride (not explicitly mentioned in this passage, but it’s one of the recurring sins in this letter) grow tangled fields of disorder, conflict, and “wickedness of every kind.” Going to Galatians 5:19-22, we get a rundown of these rotten fruits.  In fact, Galatians 5:16-25 reads much like our passage in James:
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.  Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 

Those fruits are seen in our works – what we do.  Those things that we do because God came down and loved us, lived as one of us, brought us healing and wholeness and salvation – grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Our good works are a sign of God’s work in our lives, planting, nourishing, tending the Word of Life in our hearts.

Some thoughts to ponder:
If your life – your actions and words – were a harvest, what kind of harvest would it be?

Do you need to ask the Gardener to tend to your crop, pulling out weeds, and fertilizing the good seed?
Do you think that God may use the fruit of your life to plant seeds in others?  How might you seen that happen?

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