The Beatitudes for Marriage: Part 7

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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

The Beatitudes for Marriage:  Part 6

The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God.
Matthew 5:8, HCSB

Adam and Eve started off in this world having God walk among them.  They actually got to see God.  It wasn’t until after their rebellion that they were forced to leave the Garden of Eden, and the separation of spirit also was separation of presence.  But there are times in the Old Testament that God shows up.  Moses wrote that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God,” (Genesis 6:9, HCSB) and  “Then the LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting in the entrance of his tent during the heat of the day,” (Genesis 18:1, HCSB).  Daniel recorded an encounter in chapter 10 of his book.  And who can forget about Isaiah!?  “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple,” (Isaiah 6:1, HCSB).  But God’s ultimate revelation to man was through Jesus: “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father,” (John 14:9, HCSB).  “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,” (Colossians 1:15, HCSB).  “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word,” (Hebrews 1:3, HCSB).

How amazing would it be to have such an experience!  The question is not so much if we will see God.  Everyone, young and old, good and bad, living and dead, will see God at the judgment.  It’s more of a question of how we will see God.  In this sermon Jesus was referring to seeing God in a positive sense, not in a negative sense.  Seeing God as Father not as Condemner.  In order to see God as Father, there is the prerequisite of having a pure heart.  A pure heart.  pure heart.  Would you consider your heart pure?  Probably not.  I don’t consider my heart pure, far from it.  Even the most holy person we can think of would never consider himself or herself to be pure of heart if they are actually holy.

Does that not mean then that no one will see God?  Yes and no.  First, remember that these beatitudes were being spoken to disciples, followers of Jesus.  They were Christians (with the exception of Judas, of course).   Apart from Christ they certainly would have impure hearts, but with Christ their hearts are being ever purified.  As Paul would later say, “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers,” (Romans 8.29, HCSB).  “For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight,” (Ephesians 1.4, HCSB).  To be pure in heart is to be like Christ.  It is to be holy and blameless.  That is what we are becoming, and by God’s grace we shall fully become at our death.

 In order to see God as Father, there is the prerequisite of having a pure heart.  A pure heart.  pure heart.

We can never say that we are fully pure this side of heaven.  However, we can say that we are being purified.  One of the greatest images that Scripture gives to us in this comes from Malachi.  “But who can endure the day of His coming?  And who will be able to stand when He appears?  For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye,” (Malachi 3:2, HCSB).  Every impurity will be burned.  Every spot will be scrubbed clean.  Complete purity will be ours!  But even now, even now, we are being purified.  Paul told the Philippians, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 1:6, HCSB).  A lot of people love to read and hear this verse, but rarely do they connect it with what Paul wrote in the same paragraph and just two sentences after.  “And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God,” (Philippians 1.9-11, HCSB).

Yes, God is purifying you, but that is a two-way street.  You and I must be growing and doing what God is doing.  He is working in us and we are to be living it out.  God is showing us inwardly what is lovely and superior and such, but we must then approve of those things, choosing them over things that are ugly and inferior.  Again, Paul wrote something similar in the second chapter of Philippians: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose,” (2:12b-13, HCSB).  To work out your salvation does not mean that you get to decide how you will be saved, but rather to do outwardly what God is doing inwardly.  God is enabling you (inwardly) to desire His good purpose.  He is enabling you (inwardly) to live it in reality.    That is why Paul went on to say, “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world,” (Philippians 2:14-15, HCSB).  Notice the word do.  That’s an action word.  It’s not a state of being; it’s a state of action.  Why do these things?  To be blameless and pure.  In other words: act out what God is doing in you and you will be growing in your purity and blamelessness.  We cannot be completely pure in this world, but wouldn’t it be great to be as close to it as possible? God enables us inwardly by giving us new desires and new ways to work out the inward salvation so that it also affects how we act.

Hopefully by now you can see how this would benefit your marriage.  If husbands are reading this then you know that becoming more like Christ will then lead you to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water with the word,” (Ephesians 5:25-26, HCSB).  If wives are reading this they will grow in their understanding of what it actually means to submit, knowing that even Christ submitted Himself to the Father: “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3, HCSB)  Love and humility are the outworkings of an inward change brought about by God.  Those are not the only changes.  There are others: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control,” (Galatians 5:22, HCSB).  Can you imagine your spouse (and you as well) displaying these qualities to each other?  This is what will happen as one grows in purity of heart.  God shows up and changes us from within.

 Notice the word do.  That’s an action word.  It’s not a state of being; it’s a state of action.  Why do these things?  To be blameless and pure.  In other words: act out what God is doing in you and you will be growing in your purity and blamelessness.

Commit now to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  If you are a believer in Christ, God is already at work inside you.  Now it is time to let what’s happening inwardly to happen outwardly.

I’d love to hear your comments, questions, or concerns.  Feel free to comment below.  All comments are reviewed, and as long as they are respectful (even if they disagree with me) they will be posted.  Trolling and disrespectful comments will simply be deleted.

That being said…