This post is the 8th in the series of posts on the Beatitudes—a section that spans from Matthew 5:3-12. In this section, the Lord Jesus describes 8 attitudes that should be present in the life of everyone who claims to be his follower. In this post, we will be looking at the seventh attitude—that of being a peacemaker as described in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Peace in a world filled with so many acts of violence and wars seems to be such an elusive thing. Nations are at war with each other; communities are at war with each other; churches are at war with each other; spouses are at war, and parents and children are at war. War, war, and more war!
Yet, amid all this chaos, Jesus sends his children out into this world as peacemakers. Not just those who are peace-lovers, peace-wishers, peace-hopers but those who are peacemakers! Those who have the means to establish peace—real peace between God and people and peace between people.
You see the term, “peacemaker” is a combination of 2 words—peace and maker. The word “peace” refers to more than the absence of conflict. It has a sense of wholesomeness, well-being, and a sense of being blessed by God. And the word “maker” has to do with the idea of making or producing something—in this context—peace. So, put together, the term “peacemaker” has the concept of Christians working to bring peace.
Not Peace At Any Cost.
Striving to be a peacemaker does not mean we are to bring peace at any cost—especially at the expense of obedience to God’s word. The previous beatitude calls for purity of heart—a heart that sets God at the center—a heart that seeks to imitate God. Also, since God does not bring peace at the expense of purity, we must strive to do the same. We cannot and must not strive for peace at the cost of purity. Purity always trumps peace!
Furthermore, being a peacemaker does not mean that there will never be any conflict in our lives or that all people will like us. And neither does it mean we can gloss over problems. However, even though things may seem complicated, we are still sent out into this imperfect world to act as God’s agents to bring peace.
It’s these people, the peacemakers that Jesus says will be the ones who will be called the “children of God.” Of course, Jesus is not saying that by being peacemakers, we become children of God. If that were the case, nobody could become a child of God, for we all fail from time to time, living up to God’s commands.
The Beatitudes don’t describe what we need to do to become God’s children. They describe the pattern and pursuit of those who are already God’s children. You see, we become children of God by faith in Jesus. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive him [i.e., Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Becoming a child of God involves faith in Jesus alone. However, living out the calling as a peacemaker proves one’s faith in Jesus is genuine. That one is truly a child of God. That’s the “blessed” one on whom God’s approval and his favor rest.
The question that naturally follows is this: What then are a peacemaker’s characteristics that prove one’s faith is genuine? I can think of 8.
8 Characteristics of Peacemakers.
Characteristic # 1. Peacemakers are at peace with God. The foundation of all peace is to be at peace with God. And the only way for peace with this holy God is through his Son, the Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 makes this clear: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is the blood of Jesus that can wash all our sins. Since Jesus is the appointed means through whom we can have a relationship with a holy God, one must start there.
Characteristic # 2. Peacemakers experience the peace that Jesus offers. On the night of his betrayal, Jesus told his disciples in John 14:27 these words, “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.” Amid the despair, Jesus offered peace to his disciples. The same peace is offered to us as well. No matter what we go through in life, as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, we too can experience that peace Jesus offers.
Characteristic # 3. Peacemakers faithfully tell others who are not at peace with God that peace is available for them. Peacemakers want others to have the same peace they have through Christ—a peace that comes from having their sins washed away through the blood of Jesus. So, they share the gospel of Jesus with them. They take Isaiah 52:7 to heart, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation.” They strive to put Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:20 into practice when they come across those who are far away from Jesus, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
Characteristic # 4. Peacemakers strive to be at peace with all people. The Bible repeatedly calls for all Christians, also described as peacemakers, to pursue peace with others. Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:23-24, “23 Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Paul tells us in Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” The writer of Hebrews urges us to “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone.” Based on these verses, it is clear that the pursuit of peace is not an option.
Characteristic # 5. Peacemakers pursue peace even though they know they will not always have peaceful relationships. Let’s face the truth. Even Jesus, the perfect Peacemaker, did not have peaceful relationships with everybody. Neither did the apostles! And it’s the same with us as well. You see, staying faithful to the gospel often does bring conflicts. Jesus himself said that he “did not come to bring peace, but a sword” and that “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” [Matt 10:34-36].
That’s why the apostle Paul wisely wrote in Romans 12:18 these words, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” For our part, we are to do our best to pursue peace with others. We are to go the extra mile in striving for peace—even though we will run into some folks who always seek a fight because they are just not peace-lovers.
Characteristic # 6. Peacemakers always strive to bring peace between people. Put it another way, Christians must care enough to get involved where possible to establish peace between people. Yes, there is a significant risk involved when we encourage people to be at peace with one another. We could be misunderstood, maligned, and even lose friendships. But as peacemakers, we must always be striving to see peace between people. The apostle Paul was such a man.
One example is in Philippians 4:2, where he sought to bring peace between two women, “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.” Another example is his efforts to bring peace between Philemon and his slave Onesimus. Before he became a believer, Onesimus ran away from Philemon [most likely after stealing from him]. That’s why Paul, in his peacemaking efforts, offered to pay whatever Onesimus might have owed to Philemon, “17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me” [Philemon 1:17-18]. That’s the extent he was willing to go in his efforts to bring peace between people!
Characteristic # 7. Peacemakers are willing to pay the price for promoting peace. Peace comes at a price. It cost the Father, his Son, to reconcile us to himself so that we can no longer be at war with God. It cost the Son his life to purchase that peace for us. It cost the early apostles who carried the good news of peace to the world (in some instances, even their lives).
Similarly, there will be times when it will cost us something as we strive to promote peace. That’s why Jesus, in the next beatitude [Matt 5:10-12], talks about the suffering that will result when we live out the beatitudes. No matter how softly we say, the truth hurts, and proud people don’t like to hear they are wrong. It is not just from unbelievers we may get this negative response. Even professing believers can lash out—be it in the home, church, or even in the workplace. However, we still cannot shy away from promoting peace for fear of paying the price. God commands us to promote peace, and we must obey.
Characteristic # 8. Peacemakers will not be the cause of the loss of peace in relationships. Even though we are called to be peacemakers, we often act in ways where we could be described as peace-breakers! Our attitudes, words, and actions lack an absence of pursuing peace. Instead, they are an indication of us insisting on our ways. We want to be proved right always. God forbid if someone points out our mistakes. There is hell to pay. This is seen in marriage relationships, parental relationships, relationships with other believers, and even people in our workplaces. So much lashing out with our mouths. So much anger—even for such small reasons. Lack of patience and lack of a forgiving spirit seems to characterize us regularly.
Where pride rules, there is nothing but loss of peace. We cannot be peacemakers if we are living like peacebreakers! That’s why James wisely teaches us to pursue godly wisdom, “16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” [Jas 3:16-18].
Living out this Beatitude.
How do we live out our calling as peacemakers? Only by continually depending upon the Holy Spirit. We cannot pursue this lifestyle on our own. That’s why Jesus not only lived out this beatitude to perfection on our behalf but also gives us the Holy Spirit to help us live this out. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” It’s through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us that can enable us to be a peacemaker. And the Holy Spirit works through the Scriptures, through prayer, through fellowship, and through life circumstances [mainly trials] to produce this attitude in us.
That’s why we must be sure we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. And the only way we can have him live inside of us is to put our trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins. In other words, the foundational need is for us to be at peace with God (see characteristic # 1). Then, and only then, the Holy Spirit can produce this wonderful quality of peace in and through our lives.
The Bible continually calls us to be humble, forgiving, patient, and not to insist on having our ways. We must be willing to overlook insults and rejections, and continually try to promote peace as much as it lies within our power—just like Jesus did! We must “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” We must “bear with each other and forgive one another.” We must “forgive as the Lord forgave.” We must always “put on love” and “let the peace of Christ rule in [our] hearts, since as members of one body [we] were called to peace.” And finally, we must always “be thankful” [Col 3:12-17]!
When we pursue this kind of lifestyle, we will indeed, by his grace and through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, live out our calling as peacemakers!
Blessed indeed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God!
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