The Pathway to Peace
James 1:18-21: The Pathway to Peace
18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:18-21 ESV)
When we are wronged, human anger presents itself as a solution to the injustice. But the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God—the righteousness that results in peace. While an angry response may seemingly right the wrong, it leaves a wake of destruction and bitterness behind, oftentimes replacing one injustice with another.
The anger of man is a false solution. So, what’s God’s solution?
The peace and stability we desire is produced by the gospel working in us, not our anger.
God makes us alive by his Word of truth, the gospel. He then writes his law upon our heart, which James refers to as the implanted Word. This was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah when he said,
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33 ESV)
And the prophet Ezekiel when he said,
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)
So, having been made alive by the word of truth now implanted within us, we consistently receive this Word by faith. Then the Spirit empowers us to live out the Word and reflect God’s righteous character. We are recovering and pursuing God’s original design of righteousness and peace.
- Be quick to order your life by the word of God.
James is trying to focus his audience on the word of truth. He wants them to be quick to listen to the Word, believe the Word, and act in response. The opposite of what James wants is the attitude of “I know, but…”
- Look first in the mirror.
The anger of man pulls our attention to the wrongs of others and blinds us to the rampant wickedness still residing in our flesh. We need to take a look in the mirror and put to death the old man and embrace our new life. And we need to do it often. Our old ways of the flesh have no business in the new creation life of the disciple of Jesus Christ.
- Embrace a posture of meekness.
Meekness combats evil in a gentle boldness that is both slow to speak and slow to anger. This posture of meekness can only flow from the heart transformed by the gospel and concerns itself with the heart of others—not whatever offense has occurred. The posture of meekness brings about the righteousness of God that results in peace.
When James refers to the salvation of the soul, he is referring to the continued deliverance of the entire person from the power and bitterness of sin in their lives. It’s sanctification or the process of growing more and more like Christ.
The more we grow in the gospel, the more of God’s peace we experience in our lives.
An in-depth study of the book of James.