being a peacemaker is no small task…
Yesterday morning, I read this beatitude in Matthew 5:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
I don’t know about you, but when I stand before God someday, I REALLY want to hear him say that I am his child. If his children are peacemakers, then I must be a person who is all about peace.
Being a peacemaker is no small task.
I’m noticing that with every beatitude in the book of Matthew, the challenge to live a radically different life is intensified.
This one is especially tough.
The challenge lies not so much in keeping peace with those I love. I can do that.
The challenge lies in how far Jesus asks me to take that peacemaking. In Matthew 5:43-45 he explains: “You have heard it said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven. For he makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, he sends rain on the just and unjust.”
Love and pray for your enemies…that draws a pretty wide circle of people who we are supposed to pursue peace with. It encompasses so many people I’d rather not include. If I am to attempt to be at peace with my enemies, that means I am called to love and pray for people who don’t have my best interest in mind, people who have hurt me, people who are unkind to me, people who don’t respect me, even people who work against me.
People who are hard to be at peace with, like:
An unfair boss
A critical co-worker
An overbearing in-law
A salty ex
A crude neighbor
A crabby teenager
The list goes on. Do you have someone that comes to mind? I do.
And last night, I found myself in a situation that wasn’t peaceful with that person.
Zero peace happened. In fact, an argument happened.
And it was NOT my fault, so I had a really hard time wanting to extend peace. But Romans 12:18 kept running through my mind: “If possible, as far as it depends on you, work to be at peace with all.” I felt convicted because unfortunately, in all of the verses that I have read on peace-making, not one of them has included any qualifiers like:
…when you feel like it
…when you are in the wrong
…when the person is receptive
All of them encourage me to be the one to initiate peace.
Being a peacemaker means moving toward peace in favorable and unfavorable situations alike… without a guarantee that peace will be achieved.
It’s not my natural inclination, mostly because it doesn’t seem fair. Last night, not a single bone in my body wanted to extend peace. So, I didn’t. But then I couldn’t sleep. As I laid there, I realized how difficult it is to execute a simple command, for many reasons.
Peacemaking is challenging, because it takes:
Humility. It’s humbling to be the first one to take a step toward peace. Without humility, pride is allowed to stand in the way of reconciliation. Pride says:
“It’s not my fault, so I shouldn’t have to be the one to initiate peace.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong, so I am not going to be the first one to say something.”
“It’s their job to fix this, not mine.”
Courage. It takes courage to be the first one to extend an offering. In the absence of courage, fear has the power to prevent the actions needed for peace. Fear renders us useless by making us question:
“What if they don’t respond to my peace offering?”
“What if it just happens again?”
“What if they reject me?”
The Holy Spirit. Peace takes more power than I have on my own. Without the Holy Spirit, I will always fall short of peace. It takes the power, the wisdom, and the strength of God for us to extend peace in difficult situations. His Spirit is what enables us to be true peace-makers.
I was awake most of the night, reconciling my revelation about what it takes to be a person filled with peace with my “unfortunate” situation. I finally got up, hit my knees, and prayed for God fill me with his spirit of peace. I’m not kidding, the change in my heart was almost instant.
I extended an olive branch soon after that and I’m glad that I did. The response I got wasn’t awesome, but I did what I knew God was asking me to do and I felt so much better. You know what else? This incident showed me that I still need to work on cultivating peace in my heart. So, I came up with an action plan of 3 things that I am going to do the next time I get into a not-so-peaceful situation.
Here are my 3 P’s of Peace.
- Pray. First, I will ask the Spirit to come and fill my heart and mind with the spirit of peace. Galatians 5:22 promises, “But the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” I will pray for the other person as well, that they would be filled with a spirit of peace (Matthew 5:43-45). Prayer opens the door for peace to enter any situation on both sides.
- Pure. Second, I will make sure my heart is pure, because anger and sin block the flow of peace. In order to clear the way, I need to assess my motives and my role in the situation and be willing to take responsibility. Once I own my behavior, I can apologize to God, as well as the other person, for any wrong I may have committed. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” A pure heart overflows with peace.
- Pursue. Third, I will take a step toward reconciliation with the other person. I won’t avoid the situation, and I won’t wait for them to reach out. I will try to be the first to attempt to build a bridge, offer a greeting, send a text, or whatever I can. Like Romans 12:18 encourages: “If possible, as far as it depends on you, work to be at peace with all.” Pursuing reconciliation is my job as God’s child.
Being a peacemaker is no small task. It takes humility, courage and the power of the Holy Spirit. I saw firsthand this week just how difficult it can be. I still have a long way to go, but I am determined to do better! I desire to be a person who is known for my peacemaking heart.
Friends, are you a peacemaker…not just with those you love, but with those who are challenging? Are you the first to reach out in the spirit of reconciliation? I invite you to join me on the journey of extending God’s peace to those around us with reckless abandon.
I want to take a minute before I end this post and acknowledge that are some situations in which we should not pursue peace because the other party involved is not safe. If there is potential danger of harm in any form, please do not take this post as an encouragement to enter a dangerous or potentially harmful situation. It’s not meant for that kind of circumstance.
As always, I love hearing from you. Message me or comment below and I will get on my knees for you. Let’s do this faith journey together.
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Love you friend! Keep up the good work of loving others.