Intro: Matthew 5:9 – 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
In our previous lesson we investigated the qualifications of the Christian as a peacemaker. The personal reconciliation of the sinner to God, and the transformation of his character through the influence of the word of God uniquely qualify the Christian to make peace. But how do we live the life of a peacemaker?
I. The Priority of Peace: The Bible emphasizes the importance of peaceful personal relationships. Although our first responsibility is to God, the priority of peace is even greater than the call to worship.
- Matthew 5:23-24 – 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
A. Even though some division is a necessary result of practicing the truth, disharmony is often a sign of the presence of sin – especially sinful attitudes. When Paul confronted the Corinthian church about their divisive ways he said, 1 Cor 3:3 – You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? (NIV) They were not living like the peacemakers they were called to be. Paul addressed the particulars:
- There were “quarrels among them” (1:11) and they had divided on sectarian lines (I am of Paul, Apollos, etc)
- They were taking each other to court before unbelievers (1 Cor. 6)
- They were not respecting each others conscience in matters of liberty. (1 Cor 8)
- They were even disrespectful toward each other in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. (1 Cor 11:17-22)
B. Paul presented what I think are principles of peacemaking at the end of 1 Cor 10 – 1 Cor. 10:31 – 11:1 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 11 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. Paul tells us here why we should seek to be at peace. The principles of the peacemaker are:
1. The glory of God (v. 31)–. The presence of peace and the willingness of God’s people to be at peace brings glory to God. Jesus told his disciples that the world had a legitimate right to judge their authenticity as followers by the love they showed toward each other.
2. The salvation of others – (v. 32-33) Paul tried to please others and be at peace with them for their spiritual good. This is a divine, not a humanitarian objective.
a. As the Christian seeks to facilitate the salvation of others he overcomes the selfish impulses that dominate the flesh.” For I am not seeking my own good” – This attitude of selflessness and humility is the true power of peacemaking. James 3:16-17 – For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable… The peacemaker cannot seek his own honor, self-respect, vindication, or rights. 1 Cor 6:7 – Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
3. The Example of Christ – (11:1) – resolving conflict and seeking peace was the mission of Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace, and I must use Him as my pattern for peaceful living. Why should I forgive the brother who sins against me? Ephesians 4:32 – 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
II. The Pathway to Peace – The scriptures provide concrete instructions and guidance for the peacemaker. How is the Christian to react to conflict? I will consider some essential activities of the peacemaker as the 3 G’s. (This is the most powerful 3G network!)
A. Get the log out of your own eye. One of the most challenging elements of peacemaking is found in Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:5 – 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. The word ‘first” is critical. Jesus calls on us to look at ourselves before we try to “fix” others. We often believe that we could be at peace, if the other person would just act differently. But this is the wrong approach for more than one reason.
- Jesus commands introspection first. Hypocritical judgment is sinful.
- Introspection guards against pride and self-righteousness and leads to true change.
- I cannot change others only myself. Any change that I accomplish in others is a result of the change I make in my own life.
1. The log of sinful attitudes: Does this conflict exist because I have an overly sensitive attitude? Am I seeking my own way at the expense of others? Am I envious or jealous? Am I looking for something to condemn or disagree with?
a. After urging Euodia and Syntche to make peace with each other, Paul described a peace that surpasses understanding. This guardian peace came through thinking on the right things (matter of attitude first). Phil 4:8-9 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
2. The Log of sinful words and actions: The second kind of log you must deal with is actual sinful words and actions. Often we are blind to our own sins and need someone else to help us be objective about ourselves.
a. Our tongue is a difficult beast to tame and can often cause trouble. Prov 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov 15:18 – 8 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.
b. As God opens our eyes to our own sins, he simultaneously offers a path to peace. It is called confession. When you identify ways that we have wronged another person, it is important to admit our wrongs honestly and thoroughly. James 5:14 – Confess your trespasses* to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
c. Many people fail to find peace because they fail to confess honestly and unconditionally. They use words like these: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Let’s just forget the past.” “I suppose I could have done a better job.” “I guess it’s not all your fault.” “If I have hurt anyone, I ma sorry.” These token statements rarely trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. The Seven A’s of genuine confession
- Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
- Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
- Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
- Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
- Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
- Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
- Ask for forgiveness. This honest attempt to get the log out of my own eye is a first and vital step on the pathway to peace and reconciliation:
B. Gently Restore – Another key element of peacemaking is helping others see how they have contributed to conflict and helping them get rid of the sin that creates conflict. This is a difficult aspect of making peace and is fraught with apprehension and danger. But that does not change its necessity. Galatians 6:1-2 – Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Not all conflict requires me to confront the other person.
1. With spiritual discretion I can choose to overlook minor offenses. Proverbs 19:11 – 11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression. This does not mean I can overlook sinful behavior that jeopardizes my brother’s soul, or would cause others to sin against God. But when the offense is against me and has not dishonored God I can choose to forgive the infraction.
2. But if my brother’s actions are sinful and he needs to be restored to God I must go to him in the name of peace. Matthew 18:15-17 – 15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. What is the character of this activity? In isolation from its context we might see this as a command for direct confrontation in order to force others to admit their guilt. It is certainly describing confrontation, but notice the context:
- in vs. 12-14 Jesus uses a metaphor of a loving shepherd who goes to look for a wandering sheep and then rejoices when it is found.
- later in vs. 21-35 He uses the parable of the unmerciful servant to emphasize our obligation of forgive each other.
- The context suggests a loving and redemptive objective in this action. “If he hears you you have gained your brother..” The commands of Matthew 18 focus on restoration, not simply condemnation.
3. How can I do this in a way that creates hope for peace? Here are some guidelines:
- Pray for humility and wisdom (God has a stake in this as well. He will guide you. ( 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.)
- Plan your words carefully. (Speak unto others as you would have them speak to you.)
- Choose the right time and place (talk in person whenever possible)
- Assume the best about the other person until you have facts to prove otherwise ( Proverbs 11:27 – 27 He who earnestly seeks good finds favor, But trouble will come to him ho seeks evil.)
- Listen carefully (Proverbs 18:13 – 13 He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.)
- Speak only to build up (Ephesians 4:29 – 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Col 4:6 – Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
4. If personal efforts to secure peace are not successful, Jesus says we are to “take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matt 18:16-17) Peace is too important to abandon. If reconciliation efforts fail, others must get involved through mediation, and even arbitration. (1 Cor 6:5 – Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?)
C. Go and Be Reconciled – The command of Matthew 18:15 is to be reconciled to your brother. True reconciliation requires genuine forgiveness. This is at the heart of our reconciliation to God. We are reconciled because He truly forgives. Often we fail to have peace because we fail to show that forgiveness to others. “I forgive her—I just don’t want to have anything to do with her again.” How you would feel if God said to you, “I forgive you; I just don’t want to have anything to do with you again”?
1. Forgiveness is a commitment toward reconciliation. Although it must be sought by both parties, it cannot come without unreserved forgiveness.
2. 4 promises of forgiveness. Forgiveness may be described as a decision to make four promises:
- “I will not dwell on this incident.”
- “I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.”
- “I will not talk to others about this incident.”
- “I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”
3. By making and keeping these promises, you can tear down the walls that stand between you and your offender. You allow reconciliation without fear. This is exactly what God does for us, and it is what he calls us to do for others. Isaiah 43:25 – 5 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.
Conclusion: The call to make peace is an enormous challenge. Sometimes we fail because reconciliation is not possible. Paul said, Rom 12:18 – If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. We must keep in mind these important facts:
- God does not measure success in terms of results but in terms of faithful obedience. He knows that you cannot force other people to act in a certain way. Therefore he will not hold you responsible for their actions or for the ultimate outcome of a conflict.
- Second, A peacemaker should never close the Bible. Resolve that you will not give up on finding a biblical solution. If a dispute is not easily resolved, you may be tempted to say, “Well, I tried all the biblical principles I know, and they just didn’t work. It looks like I’ll have to handle this another way (meaning, ‘the world’s way’).”
- Third, a peacemaker constantly seeks God’s help and power earnestly through prayer.
If you desire peace come to Jesus and become His child