Blessed: a study of the beatitudes: Blessed are the peacemakers
Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, describes and identifies characteristics of a Christian who is seeking a life as a disciple. Matthew, in his gospel account, depicts Jesus sitting on a mountain teaching His disciples and the crowds surrounding Him (Matthew 5:1). In this discourse, Jesus is outlining the expectations for a believer within the Kingdom of God.
Something to talk about:
God blesses peacemakers. Learn what the Bible says about the importance of conflict resolution and discover seven ways to restore broken relationships in your life.
- Know who you are: In times of disappointment, failure, or loss we need to be grounded in our identity in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we cave into cultural or societal pressure and allow the things of this world to define us. So who are we? Maybe the better question is, Whose, are we? We are children of God. We were created by love, in love, and for love. And because we belong to Him, we can endure even the toughest of times. This is what our key verse, Psalm 16:8, tells us, “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” We can set the Lord continually before us. We can choose over and over to trust God and believe He’s still got a plan for our lives, even when we don’t have a clue what that is. We may feel shaken by emotions and circumstances, but we’ll always have someone to hold on to. Someone who will never, ever let us go.
- Learn instead of defend: When you are misunderstood, you’re going to have a tendency to get in there and defend yourself. When you’re attacked, your first reaction is often to attack back. When people criticize you, you want to criticize back. When people insult you, you want to insult them back. Let God be your defender. You’re most like Christ when you say nothing in the face of attack, lies, and unfair criticism. You’re most like Jesus when you remain silent and leave it in God’s hands. “When [Jesus] was insulted, he did not answer back with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but placed his hopes in God, the righteous Judge” (1 Peter 2:23 GNT).
- Make the first move: You don’t wait on somebody else. You take the initiative. I know what you’re thinking – it was all their fault. When they come to me I’ll be glad to face the conflict and deal with it. No. God says He expects you to make the first step. That’s what’s called being a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper. God says reconciliation in your relationships – having harmony in your relationships – is so important God says it’s more important than worship. It’s more important than you coming to church. Reconciliation takes priority. And He says when do you do it? You do it at once. You don’t procrastinate. You don’t postpone. You don’t delay. You don’t make excuses. Conflict is never resolved accidentally. It just doesn’t happen. It’s always intentional. You’ve got to make the move. Conflict never resolves itself.
- Ask God for wisdom: You made the decision, I’m not going to let this thing go anymore. I’m not going to let it fester. I’m going to deal with this conflict. The Bible says in James 1 that if we ask God for wisdom God will give it to us. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5) So the first thing you do is make the decision, I’m not going to go along with this unresolved anymore. Then I say God I really need your help. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know when to say it. I don’t know where to say it. I don’t know what’s the best time. You plan a peace conference.
- Choose the relationship: The root of most relational problems is self-centeredness. You must deal with other issues, but the root is almost always self-centeredness. We want what we want when we want it. Neither person will budge—and that causes conflict. That’s why you need to step out of your own perspective and learn to serve others. Serving other people changes you, and it changes your relationships along the way. Jesus says it like this: “Your attitude must be like my own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 TLB). Learn to do that and you’ll improve your relationships. You’ll not only become more like Jesus, but you’ll also become more respected and loved by your friends. People want to be around those who are constantly trying to serve others and not just furthering their own agenda.
- Don’t force them to see: When you’re in conflict, the loving and Christlike way to defuse the tension is to seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Try to figure out what the other person is thinking and saying before you start trying to convince them of your side. You cannot hope to be understood until you are willing to do the same for others. We are often so busy trying to get people to see it our way that we don’t stop to listen to what they are saying. Seeking to understand first also allows you to see the other person’s perspective. Philippians 2:4-5 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
- Leave the results to God: As Christians, we are called to love everyone (Ephesians 5:1-2) and to help others (Philippians 2:3-4). But sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the problems faced by our family and friends, not to mention the massive numbers of problems throughout the world. Comfort and encourage others, pray for them, and ask God if there are steps you could take to help. Whatever your history, I’d like to encourage you—what you do next matters. God has a plan and purpose for your life. It is to grow closer to Him and to look for ways to share His love with others. Whoever you are, whatever you have done, or however old you are, never think your life doesn’t matter. It does. You can be a peacemaker.
- How is peacemaking costly? What does it require from us?
- What causes you to lose your personal sense of peace? What do you do to restore your peace?
- Be at peace with those around you. Do you need to make things right with someone today? Is there anyone you need to forgive? Do you need to ask for forgiveness from someone?
- What do we do when other individuals do not reciprocate our efforts at peacemaking?
- Why do you think it is more important to be reconciled than to find a resolution?
- Conflict happens. When it does do you want to be right, or do you want to stay in the relationship? What do you find the most difficult about this question? When your pride rises up, how do you keep it from causing conflict?
- What practical things can we do to encourage peace?
- Have you ever experienced a conflict that required you to actively build peace? What did you do?
- How can the church build peace?
- What part of the message resonated with you? What would you do differently this week as a result of this week’s sermon?
Take one thing home with you:
The peacemakers are called children of God simply because they have been given new hearts through Jesus and are reflecting the peace of God as they are made more and more like Him. Their eternal reward for following Jesus and emulating the peace of Christ is to be welcomed into the family of God. D.A. Carson said this. “The peacemakers are called children of God or sons of God, because of their eternal reward in following Jesus.” The verse is saying that those who inherit the kingdom of God, through faith and trust in Jesus Christ, will receive the eternal reward of being a child of God. Their reward is what makes them blessed or happy, and their peacemaking simply reveals and proves their trust and faith in Jesus…..What it is saying is that God is the supreme peacemaker and, insofar as we are making peace, we show ourselves to belong to God’s family. It is not talking about ontology. It is not talking about how you become a Christian. It is that if you act like God you are god-ish. And one of the ways of saying that is that you are a son of God.”