Blessed Are the Peacemakers
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God. (Mt 5:9)
Our own culture has sunk deeply into the corruption of anger and strife leading to violence. Murder, abuse and bullying are reported daily as many see this as the appropriate response to their anger. Strife and threats of violence are in our politics, our schools and on our roads. More difficult to explain or understand are the multitudes who seek to vicariously experience murder and act out violence in their heart through violent movies and graphic video games. Although this has become “normal” in the minds of many (even Christians), God revealed it to be a sign of a “debased mind.” Those who allow “maliciousness; murder, strife,” and “violence” into their hearts become “unloving, unforgiving,” and “unmerciful” and these things “deserve death!” The real indictment is in the words “consent with those who practice them.” (Rom. 1:28-32).
Self-Assessment Needed. Those who truly want to be peacemakers must assess our own heart to understand our own level of corruption. From our youth we have seen violence in cartoons, westerns, movies, video games and the nightly news. AC Neilson estimates a child watching an average amount of TV has seen 8,000 murders by the time they finish elementary school and will have witnessed 200,000 violent acts before they finish high school! If we had godly parents protecting us, the number is far lower, but for those in the world, this is the norm. What impact has this had upon us?
When we read Jesus commanding us to “turn the other cheek” and “go the second mile”, can we honestly say with confidence it makes perfect sense, and do it? In our conflicts do we choose “a soft answer” to “turn away wrath” or a “harsh word” that “stirs up anger” (Pr. 15:1)? Do we love our enemies and pray for those who spitefully use us, or do we secretly hope for their destruction? Our attitude toward these commands reveals the depth of corruption in our heart. (Mt. 5:21-48).
If we truly want to be a “peacemaker” and be “called sons of God,” we must carefully consider all the above. The true peacemaker seeks “the wisdom that is from above” which “is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits.” These qualities produce “the fruit of righteousness” which “is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (Jas. 3:17-4:2).
Our Response. When we are cut off on the road is our first thought to turn the other cheek? When someone cuts in front of us at the grocery store, will we go the second mile. When our spouse says something rude or cutting, do we give a soft answer? When a brother or sister frustrates us by changing our plans, are we willing to yield? Would those who know us say we are truly gentle and peaceable? When we see graphic violence do we turn of the television or walk out of a movie? These are important questions to assess. We can’t reap the fruit of righteousness unless we are sowing and making peace. The home of a peacemaker is a place of serenity. The drive to work of the peacemaker is calm and peaceful because we are gentle and willing to yield.
Both External and Internal Focus. While some see a peacemaker as one who seeks to restore peace among those who are fighting, it is more complicated than that. We can’t ignore the emotions of our heart. When we see others in conflict and want to restore them to peace, we are acting as a peacemaker. But it is equally, if not more important, that we are not creating any strife ourselves. If we can restore the relationship of others while creating strife and problems in our own relationships, we are not a peacemaker. The key is found in Paul’s command: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:17-21). Any conflict or strife created by us violates not only this verse, but the true spirit of the peacemaker.
Every conflict has a beginning and source. James revealed that the source of conflict comes from our own corrupt desires. When angry, it can become a pleasure to start a fight and say terrible things: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” As we read the lament of a true peacemaker, are we really like him? “My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war. (Ps. 120:6-7) Are we always the one wanting peace and only lose it when it is started by another? Can our spouse, family and brethren depend on us to never create conflict? Can we honestly say that if it only depended on me there would always be peace? Do we start conflicts or avoid them whenever possible?
Conclusion. There are great blessings in making this assessment and removing from our heart the corrupting power of strife and violence. “For “He who would love life and see good days, ... let him seek peace and pursue it.” (1Pet. 3:10-11). If we want to see the Lord, we must be diligent to pursue peace. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
It is truly difficult for those who have been entertained by violence and vengeance from our youth to see the truth of these words. If we truly want to become a peacemaker, we need to soberly and honestly assess the following passages to identify areas of weakness and corruption so we can remove them and become a “peacemaker who shall see God.”
- A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention. Pr. 15:18
- Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease. Pr. 22:10
- Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. 21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. 22 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body. Pr. 26:20-22
- For as the churning of milk produces butter, and wringing the nose produces blood, so the forcing of wrath produces strife. Pr. 30:33
- A perverse man scatters abroad strife; And a whisperer separates chief friends. Pr. 16:28
- He that covers a transgression seeks love; But he that harps on a matter separates chief friends. Pr. 17:9
- A worthless person, a wicked man, Walks with a perverse mouth; 13 He winks with his eyes, He shuffles his feet, He points with his fingers; 14 Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord. Pr. 6:12-14
- These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. Pr. 6:16-19
- let us pursue the things which make for peace and things by which one may edify another. Rom. 14:19
- Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren 1Cor. 6:7-8
- I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph. 4:1-3