The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9, HCSB
One of the most important sayings in Hebrew was and is shalom. It is a part of their every day language. It is said in their hellos and good-byes. The capital of ancient Israel was named Jerusalem (yay ru shalom), which means “foundation of peace.” For a people who never seemed to live in peace and yet were promised everlasting peace, the desire has always been a part of their make-up. The desire is in their DNA. By the time Jesus said these words, He was being followed by a man whose name was Simon. Simon belonged to a sect of people known as the Zealots. Zealots, as their name indicates, were fanatics. They hated the Roman occupation. When I say hated, I mean hated. No one likes an occupying force in their country. Yet, most people shrug their shoulders and try to make the most of it. Not Zealots. Zealots would lead raids, ambushes, and battles. They didn’t care if they died. They’d die as martyrs as long as they could take some Romans with them. So when Simon the Zealot is sitting on the side of the mountain, everything is probably sounding a bit odd, but bearable, until Jesus got to this part of His sermon. “The peacemakers are blessed…” This went against everything he believed in. If we are honest, it goes against everything we believe in too. We may not be of the Zealot sect, but we don’t like backing down from a good fight or argument, especially if we’re right. And we are always right! And it feels good to be right. If feels good to win the fight/argument. It gives us satisfaction; it gives us happiness.
Yet here Jesus said the peacemakers are blessed, not the arguers or the fighters. People who make peace are the happy ones. How could they be happy? Won’t people run all over them? Won’t they lose fights? Won’t people miss out on the wonderful wisdom that they have to offer? Perhaps all that might be true. Let me deal with why these peacemakers are happy, and then I will deal with those questions with some caveats on peacemaking.
The reason behind the happiness is because they will be called the sons of God. God’s children. Remember in this culture children (sons) were representative of their father. Therefore, they would seek to imitate their father, and many times it would come natural. Even today we have sayings like, “He is his father’s son” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Children are imitators of their father. Jesus was indicating this same fact. God is in the business of bringing peace. Remember Romans 5:1? “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (HCSB). God brought peace to us by sending His own Son to die and rise again. God is the ultimate Peacemaker. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Those who imitate God are obviously His children. Is there anything greater than to be God’s child!
Listen to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God, (4:31-5:2, HCSB).
While the word peace is not used in these verses, surely we can see that this is how one can make peace: Don’t get bitter. Don’t be angry. Don’t show wrath. Don’t shout. Don’t speak slanderous words. Be kind. Be compassionate. Forgive.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, wrote well on this beatitude. He wrote (and preached),
The peacemaker is one who is not always looking at everything in terms of the effect it has upon himself. Now is not that the whole trouble with us by nature? We look at everything as it affects us. ‘What is the reaction upon me? What is this going to mean to me?’ And the moment we think like that there is of necessity war, because everybody else is doing the same thing. That is the explanation of all quarrelling and discord. Everybody looks at it from the self-centred point of view. ‘Is this fair to me? Am I having my rights and dues?’ They are not interested in the causes they should be serving, or the gret thing that brings them all together, this Church, Society, or Organization [we could include marriage at this point]. It is, ‘How is this affecting me? What is this doing to me?’ Now that is the spirit that always leads to quarrels, misunderstandings and disputes, and it is a negation of being a peacemaker. (Sermon on the Mount: Two Volumes in One; Eerdmans Publishing, 1971. p. 122)
God brought peace to us by sending His own Son to die and rise again. God is the ultimate Peacemaker. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Those who imitate God are obviously His children.
Now the caveats:
- This is not peace at all costs. Peace will cost you a lot. It is expensive. But one cannot have peace at all costs. If a person breaks into my house and tries to kidnap my children, my obligation to protect my kids will supersede my peacemaking abilities. When the Israelites tried to walk around the land of the Amorites, they were attacked by that nation. They had to fight back and the lesser army (Israel) won (cf. Num 21:21-25).
- Peacemaking is different from peace-keeping. As Leon Morris has said: “He refers not to peace-keepers but to peace-makers, people who end hostilities and bring the quarrelsome together,” (The Gospel According to Matthew; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992. p. 101). Peace-keepers are primarily concerned with keeping disputes from occurring. Peacemakers are concerned about making peace when disputes occur. We live in a world of sin, conflict is inevitable. Our job is not to make it so, but to deal rightly with it when it comes. We do not escalate the situation. We strive to bring two conflicting people into reconciliation.
- There is a righteous indignation, but not all indignation is righteous. In fact, most is not. Righteous indignation comes when it deals with the glory of God. This is seen by Jesus twice when he cleansed the temple at the beginning and end of His ministry (cf. John 2:13-17; Matt 21:12-13). It may come also when injustice is done. To deny justice is an affront to God. We are called then to see justice and be angry when injustice is done (cf. Prov 31:8-9).
“He refers not to peace-keepers but to peace-makers, people who end hostilities and bring the quarrelsome together.” ~Leon Morris
Now, what does all this have to do with marriage? Everything! Where else do we have so many arguments and fights? Is it not in our homes? Is it not so often with our spouses? Rarely is there a marriage that goes without arguments. Anytime you have two people in close quarters there will be conflict. Yet, we are called to be peacemakers. We are called to imitate God even in our homes. Especially in our homes! When the hubby is revving up for a good fight, wives be the peacemaker. Don’t go for the fight. Step back emotionally and check your pride and bitterness and anger. Are you angry because of a lack of glory to God or because they are in disagreement with you personally? Husbands, the same thing applies to you. Being the leader of the household you should also be leading in peacemaking.
This does not mean that you take abuse. If you are being abused, get out and get safety. Be a peacemaker from a distance. God is not calling you to be a punching bag.
Anytime you have two people in close quarters there will be conflict. Yet, we are called to be peacemakers.
Again I would love to hear your comments. As long as they are respectful (even if you disagree with me), they will be posted, however all comments will be reviewed. I try to review them