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Building Bridges Over Troubled Waters (Active Peacemaking)

05 Nov

Blessed are the peacemakers, those who work to sustain and create harmony in their personal relationships. Peacemaking is not only avoiding the attitudes and behaviors that cause disharmony, but it is also taking the positive steps towards restoring harmony when it is lost. Turning to the Scriptures, I offer to you today a few biblical principles about the action steps that peacemakers take in restoring harmony.

1. Take the initiative. In two situations, Jesus spoke about what to do when disharmony has entered a relationship. In Matthew 18.15, Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” In Matthew 5.23-24, Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” In both instances, the counsel of the Prince of Peace is to take the initiative in bringing harmony to the friendship. He did not say, “If your brother has a problem with you, wait until they bring it up.”

2. Pray for the one with whom you have conflict. In Matthew 5.43-45, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Notice the “sonship” connection (Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God). If we can identify three blessings that we can intercede on behalf of those with whom we are attempting to make peace, it will change our attitude towards them. Ask the Lord to bless them, protect them, provide for them, give them wisdom, or to give them joy.

3. Do something kind for the person with whom you have conflict. Paul wrote in Romans 12.18-21, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is one of the five New Testament texts that use the word “peacemaker,” and the context tells us to demonstrate kindness through tangible expressions of love as we strive to live at peace with everyone. We haven’t really tried to be a peacemaker if we haven’t done something kind for the person on the other side of the conflict.

4. Sometimes peacemakers simply choose to be wronged instead of working to be proven right. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul was instructing individuals among the church in Corinth as they were trying to settle their conflicts. Since the church members were taking each other to court, it was obvious that disharmony was very present. Paul’s counsel to the church members included this statement: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6.7). In other words, for the sake of peace, sometimes peacemakers will bear the cost, accept the blame, or let go of further attempts to be exonerated. This will not always be the course of action for peacemakers, but it must be a considered option.

5. Peacemakers know the difference between compromise and non-negotiable truth. In other words, the Scriptures do not tell us to make peace at all costs. In fact, Jesus Himself made this very interesting statement in Matthew 10.32-39, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” In other words, peacemakers take up their cross and follow the Christ. And that decision may cause the member’s of our own household to hate us because they hate the Christ. We are not to abandon the Christ to bring peace within our household. Peacemakers know the non-negotiable truths, and they know which areas are open for compromise. And peacemakers are ready for the 8th beatitude, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.”



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Posted by on November 5, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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