Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
We think of a peacemaker as one who stands in the divide between two opposing parties, one who mediates and brings about reconciliation. This is a major function and a needed one between man and man, and between God and man. Christ Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). People who believe in the redemptive power of Jesus submit to Him. They are disciples or students of His way. As a result, His disciples become peacemakers between man and man.
A peacemaker learns to love his family in the church, his neighbor as himself, and his enemies. It is a work of perfection. “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). It requires seeing others in a certain light and acting in a certain way. The light is that of the Lord’s mercy, and the actions are in accordance with that mercy.
Mercy is commonly thought of in terms of forgiveness, accepting repentance with grace: “the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Luke 18:13). Mercy is what prompts forgiveness. It is the attribute of handling an offence with God’s love. It is redemptive. It makes a new day and a renewed fellowship.
A synonym for mercy is compassion. Mercy, from this perspective, has a broad scope. It creates a sympathetic bond with people. It does not have to hinge on handling another’s transgression. Compassion has understanding toward others and a willingness to be of service. It looks for the best in people, even when there is failure. This compassionate outlook causes us to become peacemakers. The servant who was cruel to his fellow servant who owed him money was condemned by his Lord, “Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:33). The cruel servant was not sympathetic toward his fellow. He was condemned for not reflecting the compassion of his Lord.
We are enjoined to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). It is realistic to understand there are irritations, disturbances, and failures among brethren – things that might stir anger or offence. We all have differing levels of growth and spiritual maturity. There are brethren who have learned things that others haven’t yet learned. Sometimes it is a matter of age or one’s current lack of ability. Sometimes it is a matter of neglect. These are things we have to work out among ourselves. It can seem easier in the world, because the expectations aren’t as acute: “That is just the way the world is.” But with one another we can be tempted, “What’s the matter with you? Why aren’t you. . .?” These words — lowliness, longsuffering, forbearing, endeavoring – these words call upon us to be compassionate. God wants us to love each other in spite of our weaknesses. This is a work of friendship. It is a worthy walk. It is strength. This is fundamental to fulfilling our job of being peacemakers.
Sometimes we fail as peacemakers because we use the Bible as a tool for accusing or finding fault. Jesus’ disciples plucked heads of grain on the Sabbath. They were accused of working on the Sabbath. Among other things, Jesus said, “if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7). Mercy should temper our assessment of any situation so we can see as God sees. We may have a personal conscience that is acute. We will be held to the standards we make for ourselves. But our personal conscience is not the standard that will judge others. Beware of self-righteousness; it destroys the effectiveness of a person’s influence. “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50).
Peace comes from being corrected.
“But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. . . Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:8,11).
The Lord’s peacemaker is not like a well-trained diplomat or one who has honed his skills in the art of negotiation. The Lord works in the world through His people. These are mostly people of low birth. They are the ones who have yielded to His mercy and are learning how to live life from Him, His word, and His wisdom.
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).