“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 someone we love says something or does something that breaks our hearts, what is the godliest way to respond?
Is it to pretend that everything is fine so we can keep the peace? Or is it to confront the person to prove how wrong they are?
Well, it’s neither.
If ever I catch myself pretending or proving, I know I am not trusting God with the outcome and am processing my hurt the wrong way.
The right way is approaching this situation with soul integrity — responding in a way that's not only honest but also peaceful. Our key verse, James 3:17, says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure [honest]; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (emphasis added).
Yes, I want this kind of wisdom, this kind of soul integrity. I want to be honest and peacemaking at the same time. But how?
We first must decide to commit to real honesty. Not all 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 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.
But what I’ve come to realize is that 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 that person with the desire to better understand instead of throwing out statements of accusation. Ultimately, my goal should be to add peace to my honesty.
It must grieve God to see fake versions of peacemaking that aren't reined in by honesty. That's what we do when we pretend everything is OK.
The upside of pretending everything is fine is that we have the semblance of “peacemaking.” But when we do so 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. Ouch. Trust me when I say this steps all over my toes.
I’ve learned that sometimes dishonesty comes in the form of saying things that aren't true. But it's also dishonest when we fail to say necessary 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 giving up the best of who we are.
Yes, we’re pursuing soul integrity — honesty that is also peacemaking that leads to godliness.
This soul integrity brings balance to chaotic relationships. It makes us true peacemakers — people who aren’t proving or pretending but rather honestly demonstrating, in a godly manner, what we are experiencing. 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 the way I process my hurt 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.
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What happens when peacemaking becomes impossible based on the choices of someone else? If you find yourself having to make the very difficult decision to say goodbye to someone in your life, you are not a relationship failure or an epic failure as a Christian. Download “Can a Goodbye Ever Really Be Good? 3 Days To Process Your Next Step” by Lysa TerKeurst and learn that sometimes letting go is the most God-honoring thing we can do.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (NIV)
Oftentimes, reactions contain harsh words that don’t produce anything good. A gentle reply, on the other hand, “turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Today, remember that choosing a gentle reply doesn't mean you’re weak; it actually means you possess a rare and godly strength.
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