June 24

For as the earth brings forth its shoots…so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. Isiah 61:11 

A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. James 3:18

What is righteousness? The dictionary says it is “morally right or justifiable; virtuous.”  It means to behave with morals or basically to be good. (For those into recent uses it also can mean “very good, or excellent as in ‘righteous bread pudding’.”) So, righteousness would seem to be something to aspire to, something we want to be in our relationships with God and with our neighbors. However, it can be hard to be virtuous all the time we manage to not be so good many times.

In James we read that seeds of righteousness are sown in peace. Think about sowing seeds in your garden, or the farmers sowing in their fields. Sowing is done in peace; it doesn’t happen in the middle of brawls, or strife or armed camps. In contrast in verse 16 we are told that envy and selfish ambition lead to disorder. (and every evil practice too.) We are then to be sowing peacefully. As verse 17 says, good fruit includes being impartial and sincere, and full of mercy. Peacemakers are praised here, just like in the Sermon on the Mount. It can be really hard to be a peacemaker; we often want to leap in and just argue our own position without listening to others. Too difficult to do on our own, this something we need help with. We can get help from others who are doing this, from taking the time to listen and think, and then act. James says we get help with this with the wisdom that comes from heaven, from God. We are not alone.

God has provided righteousness for us already. In Isaiah 61:10 it says, “for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness” .God provides not out of anything we have done or could manage to do but out of His abundance grace and care for His creation.

Patient God, we need the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to help us be agents of peace, justice, and love, and to lead us to serve those who are treated unjustly or are oppressed. Teach us the way of peacemaking. Show us today a situation where we can make wrong become right. We seek to follow the teaching of our Lord: to love one another as sisters and brothers this day and forever more. Amen.

Chris Gabel