Sometime, in recent years, it feels like the volume got turned up in our world. The internet in particular can feel like an angsty teenager blaring angry music with no concern for anyone else in the house. Social media is full of rants and arguments, strongly stated opinions and individual manifestos, subtle insults and divisive declarations. Stressful. I imagine you, like me, have sometimes wished for virtual earplugs.
The other day a dear friend of mine expressed confusion over a particular aspect of this increased noise. “These are people I know,” she said, “and they are nothing like that in real life.” I nodded in understanding. Why would someone who is normally kind suddenly become so unmerciful online?
Then this morning I came across these words from Scripture: “Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18). I suddenly realized that we, as humans, so easily get mixed up about how peace always needs to come first. Sometimes there’s an issue we’re passionate about, something we’re utterly convinced is right (and it may very well be). But then we decide that the rightness is what matters most, even more than relationships. Rather than planting seeds of peace, we sacrifice peace for the sake of declaring our position or opinion on a particular subject. We somehow feel doing so is our duty.
We probably all know someone like this — the brother-in-law who argues about politics while passing the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner, the preacher who pounds the pulpit with closed fists, the well-meaning friend who unknowingly offends the very people she wants to reach. They all have one thing in common: no matter how loud they may shout, no one is really going to listen. And if no one is listening, there is no opportunity for a response. And if there is no opportunity for a response, there is no transformation (which is true righteousness, the kind that comes from the inside out).
What’s the alternative? For us to be peacemakers who love others so well that they want to hear what we have to say. To be people who value those who are different from us even if we don’t understand them. To build relationships one tiny seed at a time until something strong and beautiful grows.
I believe gentleness is one of the most undervalued qualities in our culture. Yet we are invited to be “gentle at all times” (James 3:17). All times means at home, at work, in church, and on social media. Gentleness is the soil where peace can grow.
Maybe you’re not the shouting kind to begin with and you’ve wondered if you’ve been too quiet in a world where everyone seems to be holding a megaphone. If so, let me encourage you to continue being gentle, continue being a peacemaker, continue planting those seeds.
Maybe you’ve gotten mixed up and unintentionally put being right before relationships. If so, I imagine you’re weary and perhaps wounded. It’s time to rest. It’s time to return to peace — within your own heart and with those around you.
One of my favorite stories in all of Scripture is when God reveals Himself to the prophet Elijah on a mountain. There is a mighty windstorm, an earthquake, then a fire, but God is in none of these. This line still takes my breath away: “After the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper” (1 Kings 19:12). God was in the gentleness. God was in the peace. God was in the whisper. God is still in the whisper. He doesn’t need to turn up the volume to make Himself heard, and He doesn’t need us to either.
Join me in prayer today: God, You are “the God of peace” (Hebrews 13:20). Give me the courage to be a person of peace too. When I’m tempted to focus on making sure I’m telling everyone what’s right, help me remember what matters most is that they know how much they’re loved by You. You are the one who transforms hearts gently, fully, and miraculously — including my own. Amen.
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