Are you lonely?
Do you have satisfying, healthy relationships in your life? Are you enjoying the love of others? There is a good reason if you do OR if you don’t. As I continue to read through my chronological Bible, I come across James 3 ERV and the resulting lessons begin to fly through my mind.
I try to connect what I am reading with how I, or others, may be feeling. James 3, at first glance, may not seem to be about loneliness or how to enjoy enriching relationships with others but it most certainly is and here is why. The first 12 verses deal with taming the tongue. Then in verses 13-18, it teaches about wisdom. The last few sentences really capture my attention.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
The phrase “peace-loving” piques my interest because I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that term before. Although it sounds new to me, the meaning is clearly obvious and so very intriguing. “Peace-loving” brings to mind someone who values peace and therefore, values others.
As I reflect more about this phrase, I begin to consider what it DOESN’T mean. Sometimes when I am studying the Bible, I try to examine both sides of a definition so that I am not only learning what something is but equally, what it is not.
What Peace-Loving Is Not
For starters, peace-loving is not the same as peace-keeping. The reason I believe this is because of the reference in verse 18 about “peacemakers”. A peace-keeper will try to keep the peace, even at the expense of truth. It is a strategy based out of appeasing someone in order to avoid conflict.
A peacemaker will try to love others in truth, for their best interest. The biggest difference between the two is peace-keeping seeks to avoid conflict at all costs while peacemaking is willing to address conflict for the sake of real, lasting resolution. The peace-maker values the relationship enough to do what is best for it in the long run.
Secondly, peace-loving is not the same as people-pleasing. An equally unhealthy character quality to peace-keeping is people-pleasing. Both of these traits represent over-valuing something to an unhealthy degree. People-pleasers will seek validation or love from others by going “above and beyond” excessively. They are usually motivated by insecurity because they are not understanding their real identity in Christ. People-pleasing can have a fear of rejection as its core.
Thirdly, peace-loving is the opposite of being easily offended. When I think of someone who is peace-loving, this person is usually not easily provoked by others because they are slow to anger and they often give people the benefit of the doubt. (I found a helpful article for identifying 5 signs of being easily offended.) The quality of “not being easily offended” quickly brings to mind the very definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:5 ERV-
Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it.
I love how Scripture helps us understand other passages of Scripture. It should come as no surprise that love would be associated with peace-loving. As mentioned earlier, the quality of peace-loving refers to someone who values not only peace but others as well. When we value others, we are loving them.
Why Peace-Loving Matters
When James is talking in chapter 3 about wisdom, it is in reference to getting along with others. He is exhorting believers to use wisdom because our testimony of faith is mere hypocrisy when we cannot keep our tongue tamed. He knows that our words will either draw people to us or send them running away. Anyone who professes they are following Christ yet allows their tongue to bring harm to others is lacking wisdom. He goes on to describe wisdom from heaven as “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”.
When I read this, it makes me ask “why”- why would James feel the need to address this issue? Because he knew the temptation of living a hypocritical life would be a real threat for Christians. Our enemy the devil would like nothing better than for our faith to be a powerless facade. If believers are not peace-loving, then it will be near impossible to be loving at all!
James ends chapter 3 with words reminding us that peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. In essence, we will reap what we sow. Therefore, if we sow discord, we will be lonely, lacking the true enjoyment of intimacy with others.Why we may be losing relationships and how we can learn to create fulfilling, healthy ones! #learninghowtolovewell #creatingthelifewewant #friendship #followinghard #loneliness #abundantlife Click To Tweet
On the contrary, if we sow love and peace, we will reap fulfilling, healthy relationships with others. Jesus came to give us abundant life and learning how to love others well definitely fosters such a life.
Peace-loving matters because it is a crucial component of being able to enjoy the love of others. They will be drawn to our gracious demeanor thereby valuing time with us. Our ability to tame our tongue is key to our desire to be peace-loving.
If we find that we have few enjoyable relationships in our life, our tongue may be the reason.