I have had a history of people very close to me who live in anger and criticism. This sowing of strife has left a string of broken relationships, deep hurt, and alienation. I used to think that if I just tried hard enough or did enough, eventually I would receive the acceptance I was looking for.
It took many years to realize that their anger and criticism had nothing to do with me and no matter how hard I tried, I would never be acceptable to them, because the problem was in their own dark and hurting hearts. But in order to have in my heart a harvest of peace, and not bitterness or anger; a harvest of love and not hate and retaliation, I had to seek to plant seeds of God’s righteousness, in order that my heart would truly bear a harvest of His making. This required that I pondered what it meant to be like God, to understand through His word that love covers a multitude of sin; to learn that Jesus Himself, when He was being crucified, “while being reviled, did not revile in return, but kept trusting Himself to God who judges righteously.” (I Peter 2:23) He became my model–that I would choose not to revile those who were angry or negative, but that I, like Jesus, would keep trusting myself to God—to place my issues in His file cabinets and to let Him deal with my difficulties, and then to close the drawer once these issues were safe in His hands.
After literally thousands of hours in his presence over the years, I have been influenced by being in the company of Someone so compassionate, loving and strong. I have made peace with Him and appreciate Him. In doing so, I learned that I could give that peace more easily to others, because I didn’t have as many expectations of them and I wasn’t as dependent on how they responded to me, in order to feel good about myself.
James also spoke to this matter of getting along with others.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, (getting our own way), there is disorder and every evil thing! But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:13-18)
It starts with a choice–to allow the Holy Spirit to be Lord of our lives, even in the midst of strife; to decide ahead of time to imagine what it looks like to bring peace and redemption to each moment of life; to choose to sow righteousness into our relationships, because He chose to sow righteousness and peace into our lives, even at great cost to Himself. I believe that if thousands of His followers chose to sow this way each day, on all of the fields of life, there would be such a great crop of righteousness and the visible beauty of His life, that many hearts would be open to Him and to His ways, because of the overwhelming crop of righteousness present before their eyes. But it all begins with a choice in my heart and a plan to sow today, this day, in these fields where I find myself.
In what relationships do you need to sow seeds of righteousness today?