"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
An eight-year-old boy named William once wrote his pastor a letter. "Dear Pastor, I know God wants us to live in peace with everybody, but He never met my sister. Sincerely, William."
I bet you and I could write similar letters. There's always someone who seems to get under our skin, isn't there? In a world filled with irritating people and problem makers, being able to bring peace in the midst of it all can feel impossible.
Because we are born into a world of sin, we don't always have automatic peacemaking reactions. One of our responses may be to engage our defense mechanisms and retaliate when provoked. Or we may turn inward and shut down, not seeking to work things out. This is why parents and schoolteachers struggle to train children to resolve their issues with each other peaceably.
While I am no longer a little girl flustered by the annoying boy pulling my pigtails on the playground, I still find myself not responding well when irritated or aggravated by someone. It's hard to want to bring peace to situations with people I don't like.
God, however, modeled the right way to seek peace. When we offended God with our disobedience, He took the initiative to reconcile a relationship with us through His Son's death on the cross. Through Jesus' sacrifice and salvation, I'm no longer subject to my defensive reactions or to shutting down. Instead, I have access to His peace, which makes being a peacemaker possible.
Recently, while going through some conflicts with people, I read Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers ..."
When I first read this I thought, "If I will just memorize this verse, boom ... I will be a peacemaker." So I did. Big surprise ... I wasn't a peacemaker the next time conflict arose.
I recognized that I needed to have a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a peacemaker, so I dug into the scripture.
If we look back to the original text, we see the word for peace here means harmony, security and rest.
These words that define peace remind me of the things Jesus brings into our lives. Because we follow Him, He gives us the ability to make peace. When we do, He promises we "will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9). We can be a representation of the peace He gives.
So when Jesus said we are "blessed" when we bring peace, it is because being a peacemaker allows us to represent the depth of who He is as His children.
Some people will go to great lengths to prove themselves right. Pride and arrogance convince them that laying aside differences is a sign of weakness. But if we can catch God's vision of what it looks like to be a peacemaker—to bring harmony, security and rest to a difficult situation—it will allow us to feel secure and at rest in the midst of conflict. We can stand confident as children of God.
As we let go of petty stuff, we are peacemakers. When we are the first to say, "I'm sorry," we give peace. When we talk calmly, rather than yelling, we bring peace to the situation. By learning to give peace the way we receive peace from Jesus, His peace flows through our lives.
Being a peacemaker is challenging and may not come naturally. But may we be reminded today that in every conflict we have the capability to bring resolutions of peace. We can bring harmony, security and rest because Jesus' death and resurrection gave that to us.
Dear Lord, You are the ultimate peacemaker. Help me keep my eyes on You in difficult circumstances. And to bring peace to conflict with others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
How would being a peacemaker and having peaceful reactions change your relationships?
Pick three ways you can react peaceably today. Here are some examples: Changing your tone of voice. Forgiving. Being humble. Talking a situation through. Not being defensive. Choosing kind words. Believing the best, rather than assuming the worse. Not interrupting, or taking sides.
1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." (NIV)
Romans 8:16, "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (NIV)
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