But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17–18—NKJV)

Making peace is not for wimps or “girly men.” Such individuals don’t make peace, they pine for it. Peace must be won. Peace must be guarded. Peace must be nourished. Forging real peace based on genuine truth and eternal virtues is a very adult and a very courageous occupation.

The last great ministry that John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, performed on earth was to mediate reconciliation between an offended father and an estranged son. God blessed his efforts with successful restoration between the men. While traveling home on horseback he was caught in stormy weather and succumbed to a fatal fever, possibly a stroke, and finally death. His story underscores the high regard with which brotherly love is held among men of faith. Sowing discord among brothers is something God hates (Proverbs 6:19).

James, just after dealing with people problems that come from lack of control of the tongue, is contrasting earthy, human wisdom versus God’s wisdom. Godly wisdom comports itself clothed in “meekness of wisdom” (verse 13). Real wisdom is to apply real knowledge to real life. Strive to be skilled in the art of living virtuously. Meekness must not be confused with weakness, but rather it is power under control. Meekness is exerting biblically measured, effective force for God’s ends. This bedrock quality is found in those who make peace.

Verse 14 spells out “virtues” of the earthly-wise: bitter envy and self-seeking. These qualities militate against making peace. “Bitter envy” combines the thought of brackish water (bitter, rancid, fetid) with zealous, harsh jealousy—pretty ugly! “Self-seeking” has a root idea of labor for hire, a politician looking for the votes of others but with only the desire to achieve his own agenda at any cost and over the interests of others—steer clear of such a character!

Verse 15 plainly impugns all such motives and behaviors as boiling up from the baser things in this world (earthly, sensual—animalistic and demonic) rather than flowing down from the Father in Heaven. Verse 16 rightly asserts that the upshot of jealousies and self-devotion is nothing short of confusion (tumultuous anarchy) and finds comfortable association with every evil vice among men.

The “maker of peace” takes his cue from the Lord Jesus Christ for virtues that only can come from above. The peace-maker must seek to fulfill his responsibilities rather than exert his personal rights. Verse 17 clearly defines justice and fairness in their practical outworking. Just as believers must “speak the truth in love,” so the first consideration is to be pure, followed quickly by peaceable (peace loving and promoting), gentle, willing to yield (accessible and teachable), full of mercy (ready to forgive and extend a helping hand), without partiality (uncertainty, division of mind, unwavering or doubting), and without hypocrisy (being genuine and authentic). This is precisely how Jesus treats His own, and every believer is bound to extend the same courtesy to his fellow believers.

Each righteous act of yours is sowing seed that produces fruit—the fruit of peace. Where are you to be bravely sowing righteousness in order to harvest peace? There is no other way to real peace. Trust and obey.