“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.“ (James 3:18, The Message)
I really like that interpretation of James 3:18 from The Message because it stacks up to what we know to be true in life. You don’t get positive results if you won’t put in the effort. We tell our kids to study for tests, to practice their musical instruments or sports. We encourage them that if they do the hard work, they’ll be rewarded.
So if the reward James describes is a healthy community that is right with God, what’s the hard work? The hard work is getting along with each other and treating each other well. But how do we do that?
The answer is found in the previous verse: “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.” (James 3:17, NIV). Here’s the list. James tells us to live:
- A life that is morally pure
- A life that seeks peace with other people
- A life that cares for other people
- A life that puts the needs of others people first
- A life that gives grace to other people, even when undeserved
- A life that cares about justice, not sides
- A life that cares about right and isn’t two-faced about it.
Is it any wonder our nation is in such an unhealthy place today? As battle lines are drawn across the country and we’re urged to take sides, we need to re-read this list.
For over a year in Denton County, black and white churches have been meeting for prayer. There are still issues in our county and there are still short fuses, I’m sure. Our little prayer meetings haven’t solved race problems. But we’ve been doing the hard work. Despite busy schedules, we’ve been meeting. We’ve treated one another with honor and dignity. We’ve been getting along. And we believe we – and our community – will reap the rewards…one day…hopefully soon.
So if you want to start reaping rewards in your life, make sure you’re doing the hard work of living a life filled with wisdom from heaven.