PEACEMAKING – THE SEVENTH STEP TO HAPPINESS

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Over the past weeks we’ve been looking at the “be” attitudes. Each begins with the word “blessed” which can also be translated “happy”. So we,be been finding steps to happiness. Today we are going to look at verse nine – the seventh Of these steps.

Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NKJV)

A four year old boy had a friend over to his house to play – but it turned out to be a tough day. The little boy was arguing about the toys and was grumpy. He wasn’t very nice. When his mother offered them some snacks she said to her son, “You know you should really be nicer to your friend. He came to play with you – but you’re not being very nice to him. You should share your toys better.” The little boy replied, “Well Mom – sometimes I’m mean – sometimes I’m not. People are like that you know.” Out of the mouth of babes – wisdom comes. Within the context of our key verse, did you know there are three types of people in this world? There are:

Peace–Breakers

Peace–Fakers and,

Peace–Makers.

I’ll spend a little time looking at peace breakers and peace fakers, then talk about what it means to be a peace maker.

Peace–BREAKERS

Peace–breakers go out of their way to cause trouble and division. Two words: trouble makers. They are deliberately confrontational. They walk around with a chip on their shoulder looking to pick a fight. They will fight about anything and everything – even things that don’t really matter. They disagree just to disagree. Look at what Proverbs says about troublemakers:

Troublemakers start fights; gossips break up friendships.” Proverbs 16:28 (MSG)

God has a dim view of troublemakers. He desires peace makers – not peace breakers. How can we know this for sure? Look at the people God says He loves:

God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship.” Proverbs 22:11 (MSG)

May I suggest you circle the word “friendship” in your Bible. (If you do not bring your own Bible to church, I want to recommend it as a great habit to get into, and if you do not have your own personal Bible to read, please talk to me about that). Friendship is characterised by learning to get along with people. In our church we should be friends because we are family. God is our Father. Christ is our Saviour. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We need peace makers in the church. We need people whose goal is unity – who strive for unity. God has a plan to deal with trouble makers:

Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down; you need a break from bickering and griping!” Proverbs 22:10 (MSG)  

Now before we get rid of all the troublemakers – let us remember that all of us can have bad days. Just like that little boy in the story – sometimes we’re mean. We need to examine our own hearts and see if we are peace makers rather than peace breakers. Proverbs 22:10 bears this out – the easiest way to be a peace breaker is with your tongue! Gossip, slander, being a busy-body, being judgmental these things simply, don’t belong in the church. We need to kick those things out! Here we are. For some reason, we all have ended up in this place, in this time, and God has a task for us all: build each other up – do not to tear each other down.

We are tasked here to create unity, not division. To be peace–makers not peace–breakersNow the most natural thing in the world to do is to start thinking about all of the people we know who are peace-breakers. Before we start pointing fingers at others, we must pay attention to ourselves. Do we hear the words that come out of our own mouths? Do we need to ask, “Are my words building up – or are they tearing down?” Honestly? When we tell ourselves the truth (which is not always) we admit that we are each capable of doing both: we can build up – or we can tear down. We can bless or we can curse. The brother of Jesus called James wrote:

Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be this way.” James 3:10 (HCSB)

It seems clear: being peace makers is the result of deliberate choices with our actions and our words. The second type we look at are the:

Peace–FAKERS

What do I mean by ‘peace-fakers’? Peace-fakers go to any lengths to avoid any kind of conflict, confrontation or argument. “Peace” at any cost, in other words. Settle for a counterfeit peace by avoiding the real issues. Avoid talking about things because it may upset other people. Or give up – give in – even when the issue is actually vital. Some people try to ride both sides of the fence to avoid conflict. They agree with everyone – no matter what the issue is. Peace-fakers tell people they agree with them then turn around and tell the next person they agree with them too – even when the issues are in direct opposition to one another. You know how frustrating and annoying it is when this happens to you. But they are faking peace – because peace is not appeasement. Let me tell you a story: A minister saw a good friend of his heading in the wrong life direction – so he decided to say something to his friend. He approached the friend in gentleness and kindness – but you guessed it, the friend got really angry. So the minister said, “I’m sorry, I’ll never mention it again” and he never did.

Do you know what happened? His friend ended up making many bad decision and taking many wrong turns, which actually ruined his life. Years later, the same minister came to him and apologised, “I failed you. I let you down. That one day a long time ago, I should have said, “You can hit me. You can scream at me. You can dislike me. But I’m concerned about you and I’m going to stay on your case and not leave you alone – because I love you.”

Why is that story important? Because peace at any price is not peace.

When you know you need to tell the truth the enemy will whisper in your ear, “Don’t do it! Maintain the status quo. Don’t upset the apple cart.” Be very careful what you say – or don’t say – to keep the peace. Paul says in Ephesians:

Tell your neighbour the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.” Ephesians 4:25 (MSG)

What an important principle! Never counterfeit peace at the expense of truth – and always seek peace for one another. So those two, the peace-breaker and the peace-faker, are the phoneys here, and let’s now consider the …

  1. Peace–MAKERS

God wants us to be peacemakers above everything else. Remember our focal text:

Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NKJV)

Peacemakers are a very different kind of people. How so?

A. Peacemakers pay attention to what they SAY.

Peacemakers are prepared to tell the truth and to trust God for the outcome. They want peace but want it without compromise. They want peace that is lasting and worthwhile – but when trying to help people they do it gently. Proverbs chapter fifteen says:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

B. Peacemakers attack the PROBLEM not the person.

I learned way back that if I am not a part of the solution then I am You can’t focus on fixing the problem if you’re focused on blaming at the same time. It’s impossible. If you think you’re peacemaker – but all you do is blame the other person for the problem – then you’re not a peacemaker. You’re still trying to pick a fight. If you’re still trying to establish blame – you’re still bitter. Focus on the problem not the person. Look at what it says in Ephesians chapter four:

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31–32 (NKJV)

C. Peacemakers COOPERATE as much as possible.

If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 (HCSB)

Circle the phrase “on your part”. Some people are hard to get along with, but play your part to try to get along with them. Do everything you can. Here is fact: Peace always has a PRICE. If you want peace in your home, your marriage, your church – there is always a price. What will it cost you? Your self centeredness. Your selfishness. Your ego, which you carefully inflated all by yourself. You may need to say, “Maybe my wife is right.” “Maybe my husband has a point.” “Maybe my co-worker has a legitimate gripe.” Peace has a price. It’s letting go of self to let God take control.

There is an old movie by the name of “Love Story”. Remember it? Actually it is the first movie I ever remember my parents discussing, in a rather animated conversation with my grandpa Dan. In the movie the last words said were, “Love means you never have to say you’re sorry.” Made someone a fortune, and spread a very incorrect world view. Love means telling people you love you are sorry, over and over again. In relationships we hurt each other. Accidentally – intentionally – we just do. We need to say to one another, “I’m sorry.” It’s not easy to do. I find it difficult. It helps when I remember that I am not perfect But I’ll be the first to admit – I’m not perfect – but thank goodness – I’m forgiven – and if you know Christ – you’re forgiven too. We ought to forgive one another – just as Christ has forgiven us. God wants peacemakers in our homes – in our workplace – in our church – in our community. We need to be bridge builders not bridge breakers. “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.”

D. Peacemakers emphasize RELATIONSHIPS above resolution.

It is a simple fact – people are different. We don’t always see things the same way. We don’t always agree – but we can agreeably disagree. There are things we will never see eye to eye on – but we can still always walk hand in hand. A really good example of this to me currently, is the debate leading to the EU referendum which is soon.

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.” “You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist. “I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?” “Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.” The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.” “I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?” “Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”

Seriously though – all of us are different. We don’t always see things eye to eye – but we can walk hand in hand. Building relationships matters. Look at Second Corinthians chapter five:

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.” 2 Corinthians 5:17–18 (MSG)

God’s heart is for peacemaking. He has called us to be peacemakers too. God says relationships are important. It’s what life is about because when all is said and done – we won’t have possessions – but we’ll still have relationships. Heaven is about relationships. You get into heaven by the relationship you have with Jesus. We won’t have “stuff” in heaven but we will have each other and Jesus too. Relationships matter. Relationships need to be emphasized above resolution.

How can you be a peacemaker? It all begins by knowing the “Prince of Peace” – Jesus Christ. It all begins by have a relationship with Him. He wants you to trust Him – to believe in Him – to have faith in Him. He has the ability to change things. He has the ability to fix that which is broken. He can even calm the storms at sea. In Matthew chapter eight there is a story of a storm. The storm was so strong. The storm was powerful. The storm was life threading. The storm was so fierce that the disciples thought they were going to die. Their little boat was being tossed around like a cork. Waves were coming over the sides. But do you remember what Jesus did? “He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea. And there was a great calm.” Matthew 8:26 (HCSB) Jesus is a peacemaker. He changes things. Where there is a storm – He creates calm. Where there is chaos – He creates order. Where there is bitterness and strife – He creates peace. He is the Prince of Peace. He has called us to be peacemakers too.

Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NKJV)