Monday 1 April

 17But 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.

18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

When a word appears three times in two verses, it is worth paying attention to that word.

Wisdom, James says, is “peaceable.” When we sow “in peace” we “make peace,” and reap a “harvest of righteousness.” James is interested in “peace.”

But how is “righteousness” “sown in peace”? “Righteousness” and “peace” seem uneasy companions.

“Righteousness” is a hard-sounding word. It conjures up images of pinched, self-righteous, judgemental moralism. The “righteous” one seems distant and remote, cut off from the messy business of life eyeing it all with a critical superior sneer. “Righteousness” does not feel like it would be found in company with “peace.”

The Greek word translated here as “righteousness” is dikaiosynē. It implies “right” living. It might be paraphrased as “living in alignment with our true nature.” To be righteous is not to be a judgmental prig, but a person who is living in tune with what it means to be truly human, to be in harmony with our created nature and with the God who created us.

When I live in alignment with God, my life will create peace. When I see in my life,

envy and selfish ambitiondisorder and wickedness of every kind (James 3:16),

I know I am out of alignment. My life has become disordered and a disordered life creates suffering. I need a spiritual adjustment. The sign that this adjustment, or course correction, has taken place is the presence of peace in my inner world and peaceable relations in my external world.

A “peaceable” life is “willing to yield.” Obviously, there are times when it is essential to stand my ground. But, for the most part there are not many ditches worth dying in. And the “good fruits” of letting go, most often override any perceived benefits from aggressively pushing my agenda and demanding that the world dance to the tune I am determined to play.