1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. He said: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew chapter five opens with Jesus teaching us a powerful truth starting with His attitude and actions, unless we see and serve people we will never live out our purpose. Jesus saw stopped and served, and what He taught was the truth focused on relationship not rules. The first three Beatitudes dealt with how we enter the kingdom of God, Humbleness (poor in spirit), Brokenness (mourning), and Meekness. The next three dealt with how we express the kingdom of God, a new heart that is upward (hunger and thirst after God), a new heart that is outward (merciful), a new heart that is inward (pure in heart). The last two deal with how we can enjoy the kingdom of God. The way Christ calls us to enjoy the Christian life is a surprise too many for it happens when we eliminate strife (peacemaker) and endure spite (persecuted because of righteousness). Many Christians I know say they want to enjoy the Christian life, yet they consistently opt for the easy life. The way to enjoy the Christian life involves work but it is worth it. Today I’m going to focus in on the seventh beatitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” Peacemakers work to eliminate strife, instead of stirring the pot they practice peace. When it comes to peace in this life there are three types of people, peace breakers, peace fakers and peace makers.
- Peace Breakers
Peace breakers are those who go out of their way to cause conflict, and are deliberately confrontational. They are not just peace breakers they are trouble makers. They act like confrontational children with a chip on their shoulder, walking around looking for a fight. Not only are they disobedient but they are discontent, filled with disagreement. They will fight about anything and everything, including things that don’t really matter. They disagree just to disagree, Proverbs 16:28 calls them troublemakers, “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife” God does not delight in discord, and He doesn’t take kindly to troublemakers, He desires peace makers not peace breakers. Proverbs 22:11 says: “Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend” Notice the word friendship; friendship at its core is characterized by learning to get along with others. Christians should be friends because they are family, we should work together not war with one another. Instead of being a pain we should pursue partnership and peace. Are you difficult to deal with, do you desire discord or team work? What is interesting is how God’s Word directs us to deal with trouble makers: “Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down; you need a break from bickering and griping!” Proverbs 22:10 (MSG). The problem with this proverb is that most of us are outward focused; we fail to see the hardness and hostility in our own hearts. We see others shortcomings much sooner than we see our own. When we search scripture it’s usually not to sift our own hearts. Like David it’s easy to see others sin, to give yourself a pass while pointing out the problems in other people. We use scripture to challenge others more than we do to confront self. But we need to examine our own hearts and see if we are peace makers or peace breakers. Proverbs 22:10 points to one of the greatest problems of a trouble maker, the tongue. Gossip, slander, and being a judgmental busy-body are not things that belong in the Fathers family. We need to kick these things out, its not the people that need removed it’s the perceptions and prejudices. It’s the attitudes that need to be adjusted to reflect the actions. We should be building each other up not trying to tear each other down. We are here to promote unity not propagate division. We are called to be peace makers not breakers, are you a builder or a breaker? Before we look at others we need to listen to what we are saying ourselves. We need to hear and take and inventory of the words that come out of our own mouths. Do your words hurt or heal? Do they wound or bring wisdom? Are you blessing or bruising? The next group are the:
- Peace Fakers
Peace-fakers will go to any and all lengths to avoid confrontation and conflict. In so doing they settle for a counterfeit peace that is based on avoiding the real issues not on the relationship. They seek comfort at all costs, they are willing to sweep over and stuff under for the sake of false peace. They avoid talking things through because it could be unsettling and upsetting. They tend to give up and give in for the sake of false security. They are the “don’t rock the boat” people, who are plagued with a pretending peace and become preoccupied with getting others to participate and play along. They will often change their conviction, and try to ride both sides of the fence just to avoid conflict. They will agree with everyone, no matter the issue is. They will tell people that they agree with them and then turn around and tell that next person who has a differing opinion that they agree with them too. They are faking peace, because peace is not appeasement, peace at any price is not peace. Being compliant to avoid conflict is not peace. When you know you need to tell the truth don’t be timid, be very careful what you say or don’t say to keep the peace. Remember what Paul told us in Ephesians 4:25: “Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself” (MSG). Don’t fake peace at the expense of truth, instead seek peace for one another. Now let’s look at the:
- Peace Makers
God wants us to promote peace not problems and peacemakers pay attention to what they say. Peacemakers are prepared to tell the truth and to trust God for the results because they want peace without compromise. They want peace that is lasting and worthwhile not words that are worthless. They are willing to deal with being uncomfortable because they know that it’s not about the wants of their feelings but the Will of the Father. They know better than to try and put a Band-Aid on peace. But when they are telling the truth and help people they do it gently so as to heal. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” When they tell the truth they lead with love. Peacemakers also attack the problem not the person, you can’t focus on fixing the problem if you’re focused on blaming. If you think you’re peacemaker yet all you do is blame the other person for the problem, then you’re not a peacemaker you’re a pretender. The truth is that you’re still trying to pick a fight, you’re trying to gain control of the conflict not the cure. If you’re still trying to establish blame then chances are you’re still bitter. Focus on the problem not the person, Ephesians 4:31-32 says to: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Peacemakers also chose to cooperate instead of compete, Romans 12:18 reminds us “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.” Yes sometimes there are some people that are hard to get along with, but we are to do everything we can. The truth is that peace always has a price, if you want peace in your home, in your marriage, with your children and your church then there will be a price. It will cost you your self-centeredness, your callousness and your carelessness. You will have to surrender your selfishness and your self-inflated ego. You may need to say, “Maybe my spouse was right, Maybe my kids have a point.” Peace has a price because it involves letting go of self and giving God control. Peacemakers also emphasize relationships above resolution, they place the relationship at a higher priority than the problem. One simple fact that seems to slip our minds is that people are different from us because God loves variety. They are not just being difficult they are diverse, God made them that way and as a result they don’t always see things the way you do. Our commonality is not found in are likeness with each other but in our likeness with the Lord. Because our commonality is in Christ we actually have more in common that in competition. We may not always see eye to eye but we do not have to be disrespectful in our disagreement. Building relationship is what matters to the Master and 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 reminds us: “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.” (MSG). So what kind of a person are you, a peace breaker, faker or maker?