We run into all kinds of people in this big ol’ world … some
are a joy to know, some are a downright pain in the keister. And as
we’ve all learned, most of our problems are people problems. Which
is why the ability to develop healthy relationships is so
We run into all kinds of people in this big ol’ world … some are a joy to know, some are a downright pain in the keister. And as we’ve all learned, most of our problems are people problems. Which is why the ability to develop healthy relationships is so valuable.
In James 3:18, God tells us: “Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness.” Every day you and I are planting seeds. They can be seeds of anger, jealousy and strife, or seeds of love, joy and peace, and we will reap the fruit of whatever kind of seeds we sow. James 3:13-17 tells us that the key to sowing peace can be summed up in one word: wisdom.
He begins by defining wisdom as a lifestyle. “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: live the right way, doing good things with a gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don’t brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual and motivated by the Devil. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil” (13-16).
Is there confusion in your home? Chaos at work? Could part of the reason be a lifestyle that does not reflect God’s wisdom? Many of us have taken IQ tests to determine our “Intelligence Quotient,” but most of us have never taken a WQ test that reveals how much wisdom we have. In verse 17, James mentions several components of wisdom that we can use to determine our WQ: “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere.”
First, James says I must be “pure.” That’s another way of saying I must live a life of integrity. If I’m really wise, I’m not going to use and manipulate you. Why? Because healthy relationships are built on trust and respect. I need to be right in my own heart before I can ever deal honorably with someone else. Are you a “10” in this area of the WQ, or could your integrity use a little work?
Second, if I’m to relate well to others, I need to be “peace-loving.” Proverbs 20:3 says, “Any fool can start arguments: the wise thing is to stay out of them.” Most family arguments are caused by two things: comparisons (making statements such as, “You’re just like …” or, “Why can’t you be like …”) and condemnation. Beware of any statement you make that begins with the word “you.” For example, “You should have …” “You shouldn’t have …” “You never …” “You always …” These are guaranteed to cause trouble. Build harmony, not strife.
James says the third characteristic of someone who is wise and relates well to others is “gentleness.” This has to do with being considerate of others. Our natural tendency is to do what we want without consideration for anyone else. When we think like this, we create major roadblocks in our relationships. God’s word to men: “God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener who keeps his cool” (2 Timothy 2:24); “Husbands, love your wives and be gentle with them” (Colossians 3:19). God’s word to women: “Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in” (1 Peter 3:4); “A woman of gentle grace gets respect” (Proverbs 11:16).
It’s hard to imagine how much our relationships would improve if we incorporated just these three principles of integrity, peacefulness and gentleness into our lifestyles.