Dear Radio Friends,
Let us return today to our series on the Beatitudes as they are recorded for us in Matthew 5. We come to the seventh Beatitude for a word of blessing that Jesus speaks concerning the citizens of His kingdom. We read in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Let us remember that in the Beatitudes, the words of blessing from Jesus, Jesus is describing the spiritual traits of the citizens of His kingdom, traits that divine grace bestows upon them. We may call them the “birthmarks of grace.” All of God’s children look like this spiritually as the result of God’s wonderful grace.
The first three Beatitudes — blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn, and blessed are the meek — look at how the children of God view themselves. Being made citizens of the kingdom, we are no longer self-sufficient, self-satisfied, or self-willed.
The fourth Beatitude is the pivotal Beatitude: Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. There, out of that sense of need and sin, we are brought to see that Christ and His righteousness are alone that which can satisfy. Every need is met in the receiving of Christ’s righteousness by faith through grace.
Then, in Beatitudes five through seven, we are given the result, or the fruits, within us. Having been made humble, made poor, mourning, and meek, and having now been filled with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, we then are made merciful (Beatitude 5: Blessed are the merciful), pure in heart (Blessed are the pure in heart), and now today’s Beatitude: Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. Having then tasted mercy, we are made merciful; having been cleansed, we are made to desire purity; and having been brought to peace with God through Jesus Christ, we then are made to propagate peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers. The Christian, the child of God, the one who belongs to the kingdom of Jesus, having been taken from the kingdom of darkness of this world, that person is a peacemaker.
This Beatitude must have come as a shock to the Jews. And it comes as a shock to us, too. The Jews regarded the Gentiles, that is, the Roman oppressors, with bitter hate and contempt. They expected that the Messiah, the promised Christ, would make a series of attacks on the nations to avenge all the wrongs that had been done to Israel for the last two or three hundred years. But, no, said Jesus, “My kingdom is spiritual. I have come to make peace between God and the sinner and between the sinner and the sinner.”
That is what the angels proclaimed, you remember, on the day of His birth (Luke 2:13, 14). The angels sang, “And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” They proclaimed reconciliation with God, and, being reconciled with God, we shall be reconciled one with another.
This comes also as a shock to our system today, a shock to our nature. Blessed are the peacemakers. That is so contrary to our sinful nature. Do you make peace? As a sinner you must confess that you stockpile weapons as nations stockpile weapons. Our country (the United States of America) stockpiles Abraham tanks, F-18s, and Tomahawk missiles. But the sinner stockpiles weapons, too: vengeance, bitterness, hatred, grudge, estrangement. They are the weapons of the sinner. The Lord comes and says, “My grace gives you to put away, to stack your arms, and now to be instruments of My peace.” Blessed are the peacemakers.
A peacemaker is one who first has been brought to peace with God in his soul. Before the possibility of peace among sinners, the sinner must be brought to peace by grace with God. We read in Isaiah 57:21, “Three is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” No peace on any level — home, marriage, nation — no peace. Why? Because he is not at peace with God. How much division, animosity, bitterness yet among ourselves in our own lives as children of God in family, marriage, and church is due simply to the fact that I am not living in submissive peace with God. A man not at peace with God is an angry man. A woman not at peace with God is a dissatisfied woman. A teenager at war with God’s commands is at war with his parents. First God. First be reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, by grace, experientially; then the possibility of true peace in your relationships exist.
We must understand that the Lord speaks of a spiritual grace that we receive from God when we are made peaceable. He is not referring here to a natural disposition, being of an easy temperament or being an appeaser. He is not speaking of a person who will have peace at any price — anything to avoid trouble; or a person who does not like confrontation. Compromise on the truth of God under the guise of love is cowardice and selfishness. Then we say, “For peace, let my loved one go in the way of sin.” That is worldly, human peace. Worldly, human peace is manageable selfishness. It is bitterness and pride. It is human. The Lord is not saying, “Blessed are the negotiators; blessed are the conflict managers; blessed are the counselors; but blessed are they who have true peace rooted in peace with God.”
The reason why a peacemaker is first brought to experience peace with God is sin. Unless sin is addressed, there can never really be peace. The peace we make is based on the forgiveness of sins. That is true peace. Do you hear that, husband and wife? True peace is based on the forgiveness of sins. Do you confess that God has forgiven your sins? Do you forgive one another, for Christ’s sake, your sins? Then you can have true peace. Only two forgiven sinners who forgive as God forgave them can make peace. Apart from God, sinners make coalitions, prenuptial contracts; or they make love, or better, lust. They make treaties, settlements. But they cannot make peace, because the problem is sin. Only when first we are brought to know our sin and pardon can we be made to live in peace one with another in the peace that God has shown to us. Consider all that brings war: clash of culture, terrorism. It all arises out of sin against God. The problem is man’s heart. And only grace can change the heart. Peace-conferences, United Nations, arbitration — these are not going to eradicate conflict and war.
On the personal level, all that brings division and separation, selfishness, self-centeredness, personality clashes, resentment — what is it? It is sin! Cordiality will not solve the problem. Learning ways to manage your anger is not going to eradicate the problem. Counseling that affirms my self-worth is not going to solve the problem. We have to be taken to the cross. We must behold Him who died for the sinner, for me, that I might be reconciled and accepted of God. A new heart must be given. I must be made like the Prince of peace. I must be brought before Him whom the Scripture calls the healer of the breech. He must work in me. The man, the woman, the teenager, the child brought to peace with God through the miracle of pardon in the cross is able now to walk in peace. Peacemakers are followers of the Prince of peace.
How often and how beautifully the Scriptures describe the coming and the work of Jesus Christ as peace. Romans 5:1 — we have peace with God. Ephesians 2:14-17 — a beautiful passage. But what is forgotten is that the apostle speaks of the peace Christ makes among His people, both Jew and Gentiles. Though the Gentiles were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, now, through the blood of Jesus Christ, they are brought nigh and are reconciled in one body.
A peacemaker is one who has been brought to peace with God and who sees his sin, sees that by nature he is filled with envy, jealousy, and hatred, and he desires now, by the grace of God, to put that away. Not simply to put away his own way, but to put away his quarrelsomeness and the insistence on his own rights. He forsakes self-worship, and worships God. We may put it this way: A peacemaker is not always looking at things in terms of how it affects him or her. That is our nature. The source of all of our fights and discord and problems is this: We ask, What will this mean for me? — Is this fair to me? — Am I having my rights honored? A peacemaker sees himself as a miserable sinner; but reconciled now in Christ, he is concerned only to deal with and to treat the other person as God has treated him.
Are you at peace with God? Do you know pardon? Do you know forgiveness? Then you more and more will live out of that peace with God and be peaceable, not readily taking offence, not easily slighted, not construing the worst in your husband or wife, not interpreting what they say in the worst possible way. But you will live out of the source of peace with God.
We are called to practice this peace. The Lord says, “My citizens are not theoretical analysts but they are practitioners.” Blessed are the peacemakers! We read in Romans 12:18: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Now we are still sinners. Often our offences arise and we sin against each other. So we need constant vigilance and self-discipline and earnest prayer. Many things come into our lives to disturb peace in one day — in our marriage, in our friendships, in our family, and in the church — there is always the threat of division and strife and enmity among brethren. This is serious, serious for God’s honor. If children are always fighting, what does that say about your house? That is also true of the church of God — what will they say of God’s house if His people are always fighting, sniping at each other? Strife against one another in the house of God is serious. It is serious for our own souls. It makes it impossible for us to be happy. It gives coldness. It brings a miserable life.
It brings a miserable life into your family. We read in the book of Proverbs: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” It brings a miserable life into the congregation of the Lord — great injury to the cause of the gospel and to the growth of souls — when the congregation lives in division and discord. What a terrible thing, and how we must repent and lay down our weapons of envy and jealousy. Do not come before God and say, “Oh, I’m not guilty of envy and jealousy; I’m just so very right. I’m just so very much better in my understanding than the ignorant brother.” No, we must repent of our sins.
That means that if there is a disturbance and if there is discord and distance within our relationship, we ask, “How is this caused by me? How is this due to what I did or said?” And if you find your sin, then you go and you confess that.
But there are other ways in which we must practice peace. We must learn to be peacemakers. We must learn, then, the grace of controlling our tongue. More often than not, when it comes to quarreling, we must learn when not to speak. How much discord is not due to the fact that we cannot control our tongues. We must pray for a sanctified tongue. We read in the book of James, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Think before you speak. A better way of saying that is, “Pray before you answer.” Sometimes the best course is to say nothing. How much pain, how much remorse, how much shame comes to you and to me when we have spoken in anger, when we say, “I have to express my mind!”? Do not talk of others when they are offensive and bitter. Do not divide close friends with your tongue. The tongue must become an instrument of peace.
We must not only cultivate the control of our tongues, but also cultivate prayer and the study of Scripture, in order that we might have a Christ-like attitude and disposition. We read in Ephesians 4 that we must have all lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Then you seek to be an approachable person. You want to live your Christian life not like a thorn, very pricky like a porcupine — somebody gets too close and he gets stung. But you seek to live your life meek and lowly of heart. You do not stand on your dignity. You say in the marriage: “Well, I’m not going to … unless he ….” And then we end up on the marriage at the 50-yard line, each staring across the 50-yard line at each other! Did God stand on His dignity? He was offended. Did He say, “Well, I’ll wait for them to cross the line and say, ‘I’m sorry’”? Did He do that? If He had, where would you be?
The Christian is an approachable person. He is an approachable young person. He cultivates, through the Scriptures, a Christ-like attitude of lowliness (which is the opposite of pride), or meekness (which is the opposite of self-assertiveness), or humility (which is the opposite of pressing my will at every cost). He cultivates long-suffering (the opposite of impatience). Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
But still more. We are peacemakers by being positive and going out of our way to find means of promoting peace. When we hold a grudge we calculate, we decide how we are going to let the other know what we think. Husbands and wives are good at this. Children become good at this — just how to say something to provoke the other person and to get our digs in and to get our payback time. We know each other’s habits. We know just what to do. We know how to express our anger in the most polite ways. We know how to get the wife upset. We know how to turn on our husband in anger.
Now the Scripture says this (I Cor. 14), In malice be as children — do not learn those ways. That is, be naïve how to hurt another person. Do not teach it to your kids. Do not get in your dig at your wife at the supper table. But learn how to promote peace. Calculate methods. Become skillful at disarming anger, removing suspicions. Show how you love them in Jesus. Show you love your wife to your children that you love your wife. Show that you love your husband, your parent, your sister, by a humble spirit, by a forgiving heart, by a sacrificial act. Do as God has done for you. Blessed, said Jesus, are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. That is, Jesus is saying, In this they will be recognized as being God’s children. They will be owned by God as His children. Notice that how we as Christians conduct ourselves toward one another is the proof of our sonship or daughtership of God.
By this shall all men know, said Jesus, that ye are My disciples, in that ye have love one for another. Our bearing toward each other is the validation of our being heirs of the living God. Do not children display the traits of their father and their mother? Do not others say to you, “You are like your father. You are the spitting image of your mother”? So also our Father is a God of peace. Why did He send His Son? Why did He give His Son? Because He sought peace and reconciliation and restoration. Now His children, begotten of His life, are like Him! They shall be called, they shall be reckoned, as God’s children, in the way of being peacemakers. God will own them. “This is My son. This is My daughter, for whom I have given the death of My Son! I am not ashamed of them. They act like Me. They show My glory.”
The world may call you dumb. They may say, “You ought to stand up for yourself, you patsy! You ought to get them back. You ought to trample them down. What’s the matter with you?” they will say of you. Let them talk. God will own you. Blessed are the peacemakers.
We shall be assured of our sonship. We will call each other children of God when we see each other sowing peace.
And, oh, how blessed are the fruits of peace. They are delightful. God’s name is glorified. The Scriptures have free and open course in our life. We grow in the love of Jesus Christ.
Now, you were an enemy of God. You hated God. But God, in love, established peace through the cross of Jesus Christ. By His regenerating Spirit He reconciles you and brings you, by grace, to enjoy peace with Him. You are at peace with God.
And He says to you, “As I have done, so do ye! I have made peace with you. Now, by My grace, go and do likewise.”
Let us pray.
Father, we again thank Thee for the holy Word of God and pray that it may, in this week, be not only found written in our hearts, but also seen in the deeds and in the words of our life. We thank Thee for the gift of grace, that we are made to be at peace with Thee through the blood of Jesus. And we pray now that we might be peacemakers. To Thee be praise and honor and glory for all of this. For Thou alone art worthy. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.