Way # 18 We choose to be peacemakers, even when we feel like arguing!
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” ~James 3:17
As a young missionary in Communist countries many years ago, I cut my teeth on discipleship, "making disciples of all nations", learning to live by faith in a very foreign place, and holding fast to my Bible. One of my surprises, however, was the prevalence of conflict and issues, at times amongst the missionaries themselves.
Young and unseasoned, I believed that if someone was brave and courageous enough to go into the mission field, they would probably be "superhuman" and surely super-spiritual! And yet, living overseas can be so very stressful that it magnifies difficulties. This was the place I began to learn the importance of peacemaking, when disharmony and discord entered into the relationships on my staff team. Most were maturing believers, but all were in need of the mercy and grace of God. Discord of large proportions could disrupt the unity of our staff teams.
Fighting, warring, and arguing is one of the foundational evidences that this world is separated from God. We war against each other as countries, but also as individuals because we are self-centered, ocused on our own agenda, our own well-being as opposed to focusing on serving and bringing harmony to others. Do not be surprised by relational conflict; it is a mark of the fallen world. As believers, we are called to redeem broken places.
You will notice in this particular set of four rules that each begins with "We choose."
It is a choice of our will, an obedience of conscience where we serve God by doing what is right. Maturity in Christ is learning to do what is right because righteousness is so instilled in the pathways of our minds and hearts. When we memorize God's word and wisdom principles, then when we encounter animosity (and we surely will, daily) our minds will already have a truth to go to so that we can behave as Christ would have us. Truth, understanding, and obedience are partners in peacemaking.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." Matthew 5:19
What a defining verse! By becoming peacemakers, we will be observed to be God's sons (and daughters). But the verse also implies that peace is not easy--it is a "work" of life--something that must be made.
Every relationship, by definition, is between two selfish people! The question in relationship struggles is not who is right, but who will make peace, give grace, and forgive. Making peace starts inside, with a decision that says, "I can become a vehicle to bring peace and to restore this relationship if I am willing to humble myself and reach out."
Whether marriage, friendship, family, colleagues, or as parents, peacemaking, the act of choosing to reach out in the work of restoration, comes from a heart that worships God.
I love this verse: "For He Himself is our peace." Ephesians 2:14
God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to become peace on our behalf. If this is the greatest work of Jesus’ life, to give all that we might have peace with the Father, then helping our children to learn to make peace with one another is one of the most profound ways they can show others what God is like and then come to deeply appreciate what God has done for them, because they will see how much it cost Him the older they become.
We gently, consistently, peacefully, instruct our children in becoming peacemakers. We teach them that there is a cost to making peace with others--the cost of bowing our own hearts to our pride and becoming willing to serve the one with whom we have conflict.
Humbling ourselves brings the possibility of unity and restoration as we admit our ability to fail and disappoint. We must show our children, by our own kindness, that humility is the bridge to making peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus said, something we all need to ponder anew--today, with our children, our spouses, our friends, even our enemies. We cannot force others to make peace with us any more than Jesus could force the Pharisees to leave Him alone. Yet, each of us must make attempts to have peace with others, as far as is possible. One last admonishment comes from Paul:
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Romans 12:18
So, we teach these peace principles to our children when they are fussing, when friends or a family member has hurt our feelings, when they have been unjustly criticized.
The memory verse this week is profound. God's wisdom--insight and understandable truth--is pure, peaceable and gentle. May the Holy Spirit quicken our hearts to obey and practice this truth, that we might bridge the gaps in our relationships with the love of God.
Are there any relationships God is pressing on your heart that you need to restore?
Is there anything keeping you from making peace with those who are in conflict with you? Do you need to humble yourself or forgive the other person? If I have learned anything from the heart of Jesus, it is that when I choose to obey what He shows me in His word, ultimately it brings me peace and deep joy. I do not have to carry hate or bitterness--He will relieve me from them when I accept His will for me to make peace.
Teach words of peacemaking:
I was wrong.
I forgive you.
I love you.
How can I help you feel that I am really sorry?
And remember today, that God offers peace to you.