One of the all-time favorite chapters in the Bible is found in the book of Matthew. More specifically, it is chapter Matthew 5, also known as the Beatitudes or the Sermon on the Mount. Today I would like to focus particularly on verse 9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God,” Matthew 5:9.
We live in a world that is torn apart by hatred and animosity. If we look back through the centuries, we realize that many countries and nations have been established by bloodshed and treachery. Even today, many wars and revolution rob people of their peaceful life.
Amidst all of this tumult, governments send their ambassadors in attempts to establish peace. Unfortunately, the agreements that they make are short lived and temporary peace is only used to gear up for the next round of hostility. Based on human history we can conclude that though the business of peacemaking sometimes brings brief success, it usually ultimately results in failure. From this short overview, we realize that the task of peacemaking is a difficult one. So how can we among all of this become peacemakers?
In the Beatitudes, Christ gives a description of the characteristics of those who will be in the kingdom of God, and peacemaking is one of their qualities.
Apostle James in James 3:16-18 writes the following: “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
In the Bible, the word wisdom has a meaning equivalent to the word skill. In the context of James, it indicates capability, proficiency in living life in such a way that will produce fruits of righteousness. Wisdom will be reflected in the conduct of His children. Peace cannot be achieved at the expense of righteousness.
If we truly possess wisdom from above in our hearts, it will change our attitude and will teach us to be willing to yield. When we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, peace will be the rule of our lives.
Apostle Paul continues this thought in Romans 14:19: “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” He encourages us to change our focus and put aside things that cause disharmony.
So far, we have established the fact that peace is important and without it, we cannot be true Christians. So how do we acquire or achieve this peace?
We read in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The first step in becoming a peacemaker is to be reconciled to God, the second step is sanctification or the process of conversion, which will create in us the ability to become a peacemaker according to God’s standard.
Paul continues, “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1. Our carnal mind is constantly fighting against God, but as soon as we are justified, we have peace and are no longer hostile towards God.
To be a peacemaker is impossible on our own, but by the Grace of God and through sanctification and justification we can make peace with others because we have peace with God. Peace only is possible when we cease to be enemies of God.
When Jesus shared this Beatitude with the people that were around Him He did so in Hebrew. This is important to consider because the word peace or peacemaker in Hebrew has a rich meaning that may be lost in translation.
William’s Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series will help us understand the term:
“In Hebrew peace is never only a negative state; it never means only the absence of trouble; in Hebrew peace always means everything which makes for a man's highest good. In the east when one man says to another, Salaam—which is the same word—he does not mean that he wishes for the other man only the absence of evil things; he wishes for him the presence of all good things. In the Bible peace means not only freedom from all trouble; it means enjoyment of all good,” (p. 108).
This definition gives us a deeper understanding of why Jesus chose to put “blessed are the peacemakers” in the heart of His sermon. This term is more encompassing than it appears. In other words, if are to be at peace with everyone else around us, that means we are to love one another, which can be very difficult at times.
“Prince of Peace” was a title that Christ lived out when He walked this earth more than 2,000 years ago. He remains our example today. His life is the pattern that we should be following. Being a peacemaker means more than being able to mediate; it affects everything. It involves our attitude, our character, the way we live, the way we talk.
Paul adds to this in Ephesians 4:1-3: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
When we become peacemakers Jesus said we “shall be called the sons of God”. You can’t become a child of God if you are outside of His influence. Those who truly fit the characteristic of Godly peacemakers show in their life that they bear the image and likeness of God.
Peacemaking—it includes the way we live our lives and is much more than it appears at first glance. When we come under the influence of the Holy Spirit we will become active and passive peacemakers, and we will lead others to also have peace with Christ by our own example. Once we submit to God and seek to glorify Him, peacemaking will be a wonderful reward of that perfect unity with Him.