“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 (NIV)
When I am upset about something, things usually go one of two ways. I can be more calm like my father and stay quiet and give everyone an “I’m fine” response. On the other hand, I can favor my mother’s Irish temper and become fiery and explosive. If someone says something or does something that hurts me, what is the godly response? Do either of my two natures work – Is it to pretend like everything is fine so I can keep the peace? Or is it in confronting the person to prove how wrong they are? Neither.
The godly way is approaching this situation with soul integrity—responding in a way that’s honest but also peacemaking. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure (honest); then peace-loving …” Yes, I want this kind of wisdom—this soul integrity. I want to be honest and peacemaking at the same time. But how? I must remember I need real honesty combined with real peacemaking.
Not all honest expressions of my feelings are real honesty. You see, my honest feelings may not be truthful assessments of the situation. I can be honest with how I feel and still exaggerate or misinterpret what is factually true. I can feel justified in being blatant about my feelings—not hiding a thing—and prideful for being so real, all under the guise of being honest enough not to stuff.
But in reality, honesty that isn’t true isn’t honesty at all. It may just be emotional spewing. That’s why we need peacemaking honesty—honesty reined in by the Holy Spirit—if we’re going to have authentic soul integrity.
So, if I want real honesty, I have to ask the Holy Spirit to show me real truth. I need to see things from the other person’s perspective. I need to ask questions of them with the desire to better understand instead of throwing out statements of accusation. Ultimately my goal should be to add peacemaking to my honesty.
It must grieve God to see plastic versions of peacemaking that aren’t reined in by honesty. That’s what we do when we stuff and pretend everything is okay. The upside to stuffing is that we have the semblance of peacemakers. But when we do this at the expense of honesty, we harbor a corrosive bitterness that will eventually emerge. Either it will erode our health and later present itself in a host of emotional and physical anxiety-induced illnesses, or it will accumulate over time and surprise everyone when the peacemaker eventually erupts. Saying “I’m fine” to keep the peace, when we’re really not fine, isn’t honest.
Sometimes dishonesty comes in the form of saying things that aren’t true. But it’s also dishonest when we don’t say things that are true.It may seem godly in the moment, but it’s false godliness. Truth and godliness always walk hand-in-hand. The minute we separate one from the other, we stray from soul integrity and give a foothold to the instability that inevitably leads to coming unglued.
Yes, we’re after soul integrity—honesty that is also peacemaking that leads to godliness. This soul integrity brings balance to unglued reactions. It makes us true peacemakers—people who aren’t proving or pretending but rather honestly demonstrating what they are experiencing in a godly manner.And being a true peacemaker reaps a harvest of great qualities in our lives: right things, godly things, healthy things.
Dear Lord, through You I am able to bring all my exploding and stuffing under Your authority and truth. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who gives me the wisdom to move beyond my reactions. Help me lean on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.