How to be a Peacemaker When We Would Rather Fight
God calls us, His children, to be peacemakers in this troubled world. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and He gives each of us a wonderful gift - the gift of His peace. He promises his followers: “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you. Not as the world gives, do I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (1 John 14:27) Jesus has given us peace, but it will slip away from us if we do not make an effort to hang onto it.
It is not so easy to hang onto to the peace that is ours or to be the peacemaker that God calls us to be. Not so easy at all! It is easy to argue! Take sides and become angry. Scripture says that we are in a spiritual war and if we are to obey God and be peacemakers we will have to fight against strong spiritual powers. (Ephesians 6:12)
There are so many things to be angry about these days! When we are angry it’s easy to criticize people, spread gossip and pass judgments. We feel better about ourselves when we put someone else down. As Christians we know that God wants us to cooperate and love each other and we usually do love the people that love us back. But does God expect us to love some of the people that we have good reasons not to love?
Well, the answer to that last question is “yes”. God does call us to love the unlovable. Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Hate is not conquered with more hate- but with love. And evil is not conquered with more evil but with good. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) If we walk in love aggressively, evil will not be able to overtake us.
We can keep the peace by the words we say or do not say. Wrong words can certainly start trouble. Scripture says: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) And “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 15:4) And a verse I love: “A fool’s anger is quickly and openly known, but a prudent person ignores an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16)
Most of us have a hard time ignoring an insult because we worry about our reputation. But God will take care of our reputation. We don’t need to carry that heavy burden around. There is little hope for peace without a willingness to humble oneself. Scripture says: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) How many divorces have happened because of pride and selfishness? Neither party is willing to say “I am sorry or “I was wrong.” We can be God’s peacemakers when we have a humble spirit and apologize when we need to. And when we don’t have to have our own way all the time.
To accomplish being the peacemakers that God has called us to be we need to set our loved ones free to be themselves. Respect them and understand that our loved ones don’t have to agree with us on everything. Give up your right to be right. Agree to disagree and allow the other person the liberty of having her/his own opinions. If you feel that your loved one’s opinion is wrong and hurtful then pray and trust God to take care of them and you. All of this requires us to learn to walk away from our selfishness and learn to be humble. Not an easy task!
Joyce Meyers writes in her book, “Life Without Strife” “One of the best ways to turn around a sour relationship is to ignore the negatives and magnify the positive aspects of that person’s character.”(p.110) She adds: “I believe many divorces could have been prevented if the marriage partners had magnified each other’s strong points…What a difference it would make in our lives if we could be totally positive.”
I still remember the look of sad discouragement on my second cousin Linda’s face as her handsome husband laughingly told some not so nice jokes about her to her relatives and then openly fussed and fumed about her many faults. I wasn’t surprised when shortly after we heard the news that Linda and her husband were getting a divorce. Over the years I have talked with many women who have been divorced. And nearly every divorced woman has described her ex as a person who daily criticized her and who found fault with nearly everything she did. Scripture says that real love “keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Cor. 13:5b) Did these failed marriages ever have “real” love in the first place?
Of course a wife or husband should never overlook a serious problem in a marriage. Too many marriages are less than they could be because the husbands and wives have the habit of criticizing each other over little things. The husbands and wives who enjoy grand marriages that are long lasting and loving are the husbands and wives who respect one another and try to build one another up. These successful husbands and wives give compliments to one another and work together as a team. And when one isn’t perfect the other knows how to give their spouse a break. Scripture says: “Love always protects, always trusts (God), always hopes, and always keeps on going.” (1 Cor. 13:6)
Recently the new Pope Francis called for the Catholic Church to be more about spreading love to hurting souls and less about being so legalistic and judgmental. Pope Francis realizes that God desires that we live in a climate of love and not in a climate of legalism. Just before Jesus was arrested and put to death He prayed an intense prayer for us and all of His followers. He asked: “that they (believers in Him) may be one, as You, Father are in Me and I in You. That they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.” (John 17:21)
When Jesus prayed this prayer for you and me He knew that He would soon be whipped and scorned and brutally murdered on a cross. But during this dark time in His life He was still concerned about us – His followers and how we would live in the future. He was praying that we believers would stay together and be one in the Spirit. That we would give up our hatreds and prejudices and love and forgive and protect one another. And that the world would be attracted to His love shining out from us and from our churches. And that hurting souls would come to this Jesus and be saved through the witness of our love..
This was – and is – the deep desire of Jesus’ heart - that His followers would be as one - unified and loving and forgiving of one another. That is what He prayed for. Are we willing to do what it takes to answer His prayers?
Some of the ideas in this blog were taken from “Life without Strife” by Joyce Meyer