Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.
I would like to write something on the words that our Lord gave in His sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5 verse 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” What does that mean?
As Christians we are living in a world that is characterised by selfishness and anger and lust and greed and strife and tension. But Christians have the life of Christ within them which is to be characterised by selflessness and love and compassion and mercy and so on.
One of the fruits of this new life, and one of the responsibilities that it brings, especially within church fellowships, is an attitude of love toward the brethren. No longer is there enmity between us because we are one in the bonds of Christ, and that one-ness must be manifested and shown and demonstrated.
How then, is that responsibility to be manifested in my life?
It is not by seeking peace at any price. Sometimes there is the temptation to seek peace at the expense of duty when that duty requires us to stand up and speak out. If we remain silent our life will certainly be much more outwardly peaceful, but a violated conscience will never give true, inner peace.
We are to certainly avoid all needless areas of contention – but never to the point of sacrificing truth, or compromising principle, or forsaking duty. The Apostle Paul was a peacemaker, but he would not sacrifice the truth in order to pursue it. He could have avoided many hardships if he had yielded on some points of doctrine or on spiritual convictions.
Peace-making will most often be seen in certain attitudes that we show toward others. Let me try and illustrate what I mean.
In the first place the peacemaker will not be quarrelsome and ready at any moment to explode against others. You know the kind of person who is so prickly that you never know when they walk into a room how they will react to you. They are so sensitive, that the moment anyone comes near them they fire off a couple of volleys of strong complaints or criticisms. To such people Jesus says: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The peacemaker will be slow to speak and swift to hear.
Secondly, the peacemaker will be willing to make concessions where no principle is involved. It is possible to major on minors where no vital principle is involved – and in doing so we can create discord and strife.
Some years ago, when my wife and I were in Singapore, if we had insisted that we sit together in the worship service, then we might have created a problem in that church. For reasons best known to themselves the men and women did not sit together for worship (that is not so now). For my wife and I to go along with that, and accommodate ourselves to that, is not a matter of us sacrificing principle, it would simply be seeking to maintain peace. If we had insisted otherwise it could have caused offence. In another fellowship it was their practise to remove their shoes outside and they remained barefoot throughout their worship. Would I have been a peacemaker by insisting that I keep my shoes on my feet? Would that have been sacrificing any sound biblical principle? No. The peacemaker recognises that where there is no principle involved, he will not insist, and he will back off and thus seek to maintain peace.
On the other hand, if those churches had said that unless you sit apart from your wife and unless you remove your shoes to worship, then you cannot go to heaven, then that is another matter. I would then have held on to my wife and kept my shoes firmly on my feet and earnestly contended – on a matter of principle.
Do you see the point I am making? That principle could be applied to other things such as Bible Versions, music in worship or women wearing head coverings (even men wearing ties!) Blessed is the person who knows when to give way and to make concessions where no principle is at stake and is willing to accept the mind of the group or of the fellowship in order to maintain peace.
Churches throughout our land have been plagued by the kind of person who insists on standing out and being different and arguing for their rights in matters where no biblical principle is involved. Some love to stir up trouble and go around and spread gossip, creating friction and promoting factions, disturbing the peace of the church. That is the opposite of being a peacemaker, it is being a troublemaker.
The peacemaker will do all in his power to live in peace and to promote the peace of the church and fellowship. They will not be quick to stand on their dignity or hold out for their rights, or take offence, or be swift to repeat gossip. They will have a blind eye and a deaf ear and a sensitive heart. They will give heed to the exhortations of Scripture, and they will take them seriously: “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live in peace with all men.”
The true peacemaker is someone who seeks after peace with all their heart and they can only do this through the power of the Lord. The Lord alone knows the amount of trouble that has been prevented by such people.
Sincerely yours and His,