James 3:17 goes on to say, “Heavenly wisdom is…then peace loving….” It is amazing how often I can do things that are not peace loving: make a negative critical comment, be contrary, not cooperate, be selfish instead of thoughtful, make jokes that derail a conversation or meeting. It is not our nature to be peace loving, it is our nature to seek our own significance and security.
Think about what these words mean: “peace loving.” There is a deep desire to have peace, to bring about peace, to nurture peace, even if it is costly to me personally. It means loving Jesus more than I love my own way, for He is our peace.
Often we are not peace loving because we don’t have peace ourselves. We are unhappy, discontent, angry, complaining and self-centered. We need to establish peace within so we can pursue peace without.
Peace, of course starts with God, with having good, open communication with Him, having no unconfessed sin, being filled with the Spirit. Regular confession, repentance, surrender to Him brings a growing store of peace into our lives.
Then there is peace with ourselves. How often my discontent stems from unhappiness with myself: my mistakes, my failures, lacks and shortcomings. If I don’t face these things, evaluate them biblically, confess them to God, receive His forgiveness—and then forgive myself, I will not have peace.
My discontent with myself has frequently come from unrealistic expectations of myself, looking for perfection, or a least fewer mistakes. This is part of the natural desire to gain a sense of significance through my performance. But I need to accept the fact that I am human and therefore will make mistakes. I need to, of course, seek to do better, but must also accept that perfection will always elude me, and that my significance does not come from performance, but from God’s love for me. I need to admit my failures, forgive myself as He has forgiven me and move on.
Then there is peace with others. If I am harboring hurt, anger or a desire for revenge, then I am not going to have peace. I am not loving peace. I must have a fresh grasp of my own sinfulness (see my sin in my unforgiving attitude) and forgive others as God has forgiven me.
Having peace with God, with myself and with others will nurture my love for peace, my commitment to be a peace carrier in each situation. I will have no need to compete, to wrench my significance from others, or to find my security in having control over the situation.
If we love God and love peace, we can love others.