“Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 (NIV84)
We, as a church, are having a Harvest Party tonight – a celebration of God’s bounty which serves as a suitable alternative to celebrating Halloween. I really have nothing against Halloween, per se. As a kid, I remember dressing up in costume and taking my pillowcase out into the neighborhood to be filled with candy. My candy bag was then looked through by my mother to ensure that I had nothing tainted or doctored. After the extensive search for opened wrappers, I was free to indulge for a week or so in my bounty. I do have my reservations that Halloween has now gone too far and it is no longer just a fun time for kids to mill about on the streets in innocuous costumes but rather a time for gratuitous revelry by otherwise sensible adults in drinking, gore and bawdy outfits.
I prefer these days to celebrate God’s bounty, no longer with a pillowcase full of Snickers® but with thoughtful reflection of all I enjoy. God has bounteously provided for me and my family physically – we have a roof over our heads, warmth in the winter, food on our tables, and luxuries like HDTV and a working car. God has bounteously provided for me and my family industriously – we all have purposeful pursuits to fill our days (work, school and volunteer opportunities). God has bounteously provided for me and my family socially – we’ve been given the blessings of a great extended family, great friends and a great church. God has bounteously provided for me and my family spiritually – He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us; how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? God is so good to me.
The above verse of scripture reminded me of one further bounteous provision of God – the blessing of a life with Him. As the harvest season has been turning into winter, I have been wrestling with the question of what I am harvesting. I am not a farmer (vocationally or avocationally) and cannot point to a basket of which I can say, “This is what I’ve produced.” I can, although imperfectly, state that I have been producing a harvest of righteousness. Numerous times in the New Testament this phrase (‘harvest of righteousness’) is used. God’s Word tells me that I have been producing a life shaped and defined by right and just behavior as I have modeled the peace that comes from knowing Him. This, too, is part of the great bounty of God for which I am grateful. God is working in me, and in all believers, to raise up righteousness. I consider that a better haul than a pillowcase full of candy.