Matthew 5:9 – Peacemakers
I don’t think that it is without significance that we come to this Beatitude on Remembrance Sunday. Esp. as we look back on a week in which the UN Security Council passed a strong resolution demanding weapons inspectors be readmitted to Iraq and a week where US troop build up continues in the Gulf.
WW1 was supposed to be the war to end all wars, yet more were killed in wars during 20th C than all previous centuries combined.
Why are there wars in the world?
Why does world peace elude our government leaders?
Why are there at numerous civil wars going on all the time in various parts of the world?
Why, on a smaller scale are there conflicts within local communities and families?
Some people are never seem happy unless they are fighting with someone. A peacemaker on the other hand finds great satisfaction in removing hostilities and effecting reconciliation between adversaries.
Most world leaders won’t acknowledge it but the source of the problem is within the human heart – old-fashioned selfishness and greed. Until there is a change in the heart there will never be a solution to the problems on the surface. What is in the heart of a person inevitably comes out of that person.
As we have seen in previous Beatitudes these are not natural dispositions, but dynamic spiritual changes in a person’s heart — a life changing encounter with God. That life-changing experience affects the way we approach every relationship in our lives.
SPIRITUALLY PROSPEROUS PEOPLE ARE PEACEMAKERS
Blessed = Spiritually prosperous
The Spiritually prosperous, are in no way kin to the “prosperity gospel” cult in our day [those who reduce God’s blessing to only health and money]. Rather Spiritually prosperous are those who have a right relationship with God based upon a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Peace” is God’s highest good for man. In the NT sense “peace” is not just the absence of trouble; it is everything that makes for our highest good.
Creation – shalom – equilibrium – sin caused disequilibrium.
In OT Jehovah – Shalom “the LORD our peace” (Judges 6:24), and in NT our Jesus is the Prince of Peace – God’s Peacemaker. “He is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). He has brought us near by His death on the cross (v. 15) and brought us into the presence of the Father and introduced us to Him (v. 18).
Jesus gives us His peace (John 14:27; 16:33).
John 14:27 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV)
John 16:33 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of peace. He applies and supplies the peace of God to our hearts (Gal. 5:22).
Galatians 5:22 22 … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (NIV)
The one clear objective of the peacemaker is that the LORD God be glorified.
Jesus is our best model for a peacemaker. His concern was to glorify the Father at all times (John 17).
Peacemakers – who are they?
“Peacemakers” are those disciples who strive to prevent contention and strife. However, they are not keepers-of -peace at any price, but are active makers of peace. They use their influence to reconcile opposing parties among individuals, families, churches, and the community. They change hostile attitudes to attitudes that seek the best interests of everyone.
Now peacemaking is a divine work. For peace means reconciliation, and God is the author of peace and of reconciliation. Indeed, the very verb, which is used in this beatitude of us, is applied by the apostle Paul to what God has done through Christ. Through Christ God was pleased “to reconcile to Himself all things, . . . making peace by the blood of His cross.” And Christ’s purpose was to “create in Himself one new man in place of the two (sc. Jew and Gentile), so making peace” (Col. 1:20; Eph. 2:15).
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the particular blessing which attaches to peacemakers is that “they shall be called sons of God.” For they are seeking to do what their Father has done, loving people with His love, …. It is the devil who is a troublemaker; it is God who loves reconciliation and who now through his children, as formerly through his only Son, is bent on making peace (The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, p. 50). John R. W. Stott
It must be kept in mind that “the peace of God is not peace at any price.” God brought sin out in the open and dealt with it. God made peace with sinful humanity at “immense cost.” Only the blood of Jesus Christ can make propitiation for us (Romans 3:24-25). “Jesus Christ the righteous . . . is the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 2:2). “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (4:10). Propitiate [means what??] – “the turning away of wrath by an offering.” God’s wrath is His settled, controlled, holy antagonism against all sin. Propitiation is the appeasement of the wrath of God by the love of God through the death of Christ.
God Himself takes the initiative in sheer unmerited love. He turns His own wrath away by the death of his own Son. God’s justice has now been satisfied. Our sin has been dealt with. His holiness is satisfied. God’s wrath is turned away from us on to His Son who died in our place.
Any other concept of peace with God is a “cheap peace.” True peace with God is an expensive treasure. We must never compromise with truth just to bring about peace. The moment we do we cheapen it. A false peace is more dangerous than open war. All it does is cover up the symptoms. James wrote, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable” (3:17). We enjoy peace with God at a very high price.
Are these peacemakers those who make peace between man and God or between man and man? Probably either interpretation is possible, however, you can never bring peace between men until they have peace with God. His peace is the solid foundation for all other relationships.
ILLUS.: Ant Greenham – Israel and Jordan – no peace without regeneration of heart and God-given ability to forgive.
Peace with God
Peacemakers are at peace with God Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (NIV)
Romans 5:11 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (NIV)
You cannot be an active maker of peace until you have first found peace. Peace with God involves a new nature, and a pure heart. Only the person who is pure in heart can become a peacemaker. There must be no hidden agendas, not selfish ambitions, and no double-mindedness with the peacemaker. The person who if filled with envy, jealousy, covetousness, hostility, etc. can never be a peacemaker.
“Peace” is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Phil. 4:7). We most resemble our heavenly Father when we are filled with peace.
“The perfect peacemaker is the Son of God (Eph. 2:14f.)” (McNeile).
These “peacemakers”demonstrate in their own lives how to have inward peace with God and how to be instruments of peace in the world. We can never be peacemakers until Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives and sin is put to death by the work of the Holy Spirit. We have been called to be ministers of reconciliation because “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Therefore, because we are no longer at war with God we are no longer at war with ourselves. The “peace of God that passes all understanding” reigns in our lives (Phil. 4:7).
Peace with other people
John Broadus said, “There is no more Godlike work to be done in this world than peacemaking.”
Peacemakers show they are “children of God” by using every opportunity to bring about reconciliation with others. God is a peacemaker and they are like their father. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
Peacemakers seek to live at peace with others (Rom. 12:17-21; 14:1, 13, 15-20; 15:1-2, 5-7; I Thess. 5:13; II Tim. 3:16; Heb. 12:14; 1 Cor. 7:15; 1 Pet. 3:11).
Ministry of reconciliation
Ultimately peacemakers are concerned that all men be at peace with God. That essentially is the role of the peacemaker.
A great example of a peacemaker is the apostle Paul. If anyone was transformed from troublemaker to peacemaker it was Saul of Tarsus. How would you have liked him as a friend before his conversion to Christ? Luke tells us the very air he breathed was “threats and murder” against believers in Christ (Acts 9:1). Then he met Christ on the road to Damascus and he became a “man in Christ.” Stephen’s death was a testimony to Saul of God’s peace. As Saul’s henchmen were stoning Stephen to death he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit! . . . Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (7:59-60). You can’t kill a peacemaker because the source of his peace is an eternal God who shall never die.
Even today in many parts of the world peacemakers give up their lives making peace. Men still treat them like they did our Lord.
Warren Wiersbe writes:
As you and I seek to be peacemakers, men will treat us as they did Jesus. They will misunderstand us and not honestly seek for the truth. They will criticise us and accuse us. Eventually they will condemn us and crucify us. Hatred blinds, while love sharpens the vision. Hatred looks for a victim, while love seeks a victory. The man of war throws stones, and the peacemaker builds a bridge out of those stones. The man of war comes with a sword, and the peacemaker disarms him with love and beats that sword into a ploughshare. The man of war throws his spear, and the peacemaker beats it into a pruning hook. The peacemaker does not avoid the battle; instead, he transforms the battle into a ministry of reconciliation. How does he do this? Certainly not in his own strength! “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5). “But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . peace” (Gal. 5:22) (Live Like a King! p. 135).
THE OPPOSITE OF PEACEMAKERS
The world has its share of troublemakers. They are also called agitators, rabble-rousers, instigators, dissidents, heretics, insurgents, mavericks, misfits, rebels, renegades, and turncoats.
I am not talking about those agents of change we need in every organisation including the local church. We need those individuals who make us think, evaluate, and don’t always think the way we do, or see things the way we see them.
However, the opposite of a peacemaker is one who has attitudes which are hostile, indifferent, angry, bitter, judgmental, obsessively critical nit-picking. (Cf. III John 9-11).
John Stott – “true reconciliation can be degraded into cheap peace.” Visible peace in the church must never be obtained at the expense of doctrine. “We have no mandate from Christ to seek unity without purity, purity of both doctrine and conduct.” There are shortcuts to peace that we dare not take.
HOW DO WE BECOME PEACEMAKERS?
Let’s examine our attitudes and behaviours.
Observe our own behaviour and attitudes toward other believers, the church, and its leadership. If we are prone to be a bearer of gossip, bad news, negative attitudes, bitterness, resentments, hostility toward others, then let’s start working at changing attitudes toward ourselves and others.
Let’s decide now to make love a priority in our lives.
Let’s make the building of relationships based on love and grace an emphasis in our lives.
Take some time and do an in-depth study of the principles of interpersonal relationships in the Bible. Study Romans chapters 12-16. You will be amazed at how many passages are addressed to interpersonal relationships. These chapters’ emphasise good relationships in the body of Christ.
The peacemaker also learns to be quiet. “Be swift to hear, slow speak, slow to wrath,” is the behaviour of a peacemaker. There are times when it is best not to reply, don’t make comment, and don’t react with your natural instincts. Don’t repeat what you hear. Don’t take sides. Lay aside your personal biases in decision–making. Strive to be objective. Know when not to speak. Humble yourself before man and God and ask for wisdom from Him.
Pray with thanksgiving – Paul says, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” (v. 6b). Have you sincerely prayed for God’s will to be done? Have you prayed that God will bless your enemy? – be specific.
Change what you are saying about these individuals.
Do what you know to be the right thing to do. Instead of expressing your bitterness, pause and don’t say a word. Find something encouraging to say, or don’t say anything.
Start taking off your own masks. Remind yourself out loud that just like you they are sinners saved by grace!
Remind yourself of the good things in life. Become a peacemaker.
Do what you know to be the right thing to do. It is a volitional choice; it is something we do.
Corrie ten Boom who was imprisoned by the Nazis in WW2 and whose sister died in a camp – tells of an experience while speaking at a church in Munich, Germany.
“It was at a church service in Munich, Germany, that I saw him, the former S S man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing centre at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there––the room full of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, my sister’s pain-blanched face.
As the church was emptying, he came up to me. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein. To think that, as you say, [God] has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? “Lord Jesus,” I prayed, “forgive me, and help me to forgive him.”
I tried to smile; I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer: “Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.”
As I took the man’s hand, the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on God’s. When God tells us to love our enemies, he gives, along with the command, the love itself (“When We Can’t, God Can,” Decision, May 1992, p. 34).
WHAT IS THE REWARD OF THE PEACEMAKER?
The peacemaker enjoys inner peace and security in relationships with God, others and himself.
“God will call them His children” (TEV). “To be called” means “to become.” “They shall be called children of God” means “owned.” “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be owned as the children of God.”
God has made peace with man. “He has humbled Himself in His Son to produce it,” Peacemakers do what their Father has done.
Lloyd-Jones: If God stood upon His rights and dignity, upon His person, every one of us, and the whole of mankind, would be consigned to hell and absolute perdition. It is because God is a “God of peace” that He sent His Son, and thus provided a way of salvation for us. To be a peacemaker is to be like God, and like the Son of God. He is called the “Prince of Peace,” and you know what He did as the Prince of Peace. Though He counted it not robbery to be equal with God, He humbled Himself. There was no need for Him to come. He came deliberately because He is the Prince of Peace (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 126).
Jesus is our peace because He gave Himself that we might be at peace with God.
The promise is that you will be “called sons (and daughters) of God.” If you want to resemble God, be a peacemaker.
Every time someone is led to Christ the tide of world history is changed. You can’t legislate it, you can’t socialise it, and you can’t educate it. The problem is so deep in the heart of humankind that there has to be a radical change. Only God can do that.
Are you concerned about world peace? Then you need to be concerned for World evangelism?
All the Politicians in the world will not bring peace – there may in places, at times be absence of conflict BUT until the human heart is at peace with God peace between people will remain elusive
Are you at peace with God? If not you can be, that is why Jesus died on a cross – that what he desires for you above all else.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons (and daughters) of God
If you are a child of God then you must reflect his characteristics and be a peacemaker.
Wil Pounds (c) 1999.
- The Lord God is our Peace – Judges 6v24
- Jesus is our peace – Ephesians 2v14
- Holy Spirit is Spirit of peace – Galatians 5v22
2. Peacemakers – who are they?
- Those who have peace with God
- Those who engage in a ministry of reconciliation / peacemaking
3. The reward of the peacemaker
- Belonging to God and becoming like him