- Blessed Are the Peacemakers
- Matthew 5:9
- Lyndol Loyd November 14, 2016
Today, we’re in the third week of a four-week teaching series called, “Beatitudes for Families.” We’re looking at the teachings of Jesus in Mathew 5, in a section that’s known as “the Beatitudes” where Jesus gave us different directions for those who would be blessed.
Now, Jesus was talking to everybody, but what we’re doing for the purpose of our study, is we’re applying the beatitudes to our families. Because, honestly, so many homes today are not as blessed as I believe God would want them to be.
Today, what I want to do is talk about peace in our families. So many of our families are not characterized as homes of peace. Instead, if we look at our homes, we would have to say they’re characterized by conflict, or tension or strife. And I believe that God has something way better for us that he wants our homes to be characterized as homes of peace.
Now, some of you may say, “Okay, you’re talking to me. My family has a lot of dysfunction in it, but most of it’s not my fault.” And the reality of it is that may be true because every home has an incredibly difficult family member. Every family, if you look somewhere, maybe not in your home, but in the members of your extended family, everyone has a crazy maker, difficult-to-deal-with person.
Let me just to prove it. Every family has a crazy maker. How many of you who would say, “somewhere in my family, there is a crazy maker, difficult person?” Raise your hands up right now. Just raise them up and leave them up. Look around the room. Almost every hand is raised. Leave them up if you will. There are a few hands that are not raised right now. Now remember, every family has a crazy maker. If your hand’s not up in the air, you’re the one. Right? Just kidding.
Relationships are difficult and challenging. It’s amazing, especially in our families, how easily we can slip into dysfunctional cycles in our relationships.
Again and again, we end up in challenging relationships instead of those that are characterized by peace. Now, I don’t know what it would be for you. Maybe, you’re trying to raise your kids and your mom keeps looking over your shoulder, giving you advice and you’re saying, “Stay out of this, Mom.” Then there’s tension between you and your mom.
Or maybe, it’s your own kids. They fight all the time and you find yourself saying things you thought you’d never say. “Don’t make me pull this car over.” “I’ll pull this car over,” and then you count to three and nothing happens. Then you count to five and nothing happens. Then you count to forty and nothing happens so you just turn the music up very loud and drive because your kids are still fighting. Maybe, you are the kid, you’re a teenager and you think, “My parents will never trust me and they’re always breathing down my neck. They’re so controlling.”
You might be in a blended home. You’re trying to raise your kids, her kids, and our kids. There’s ex’s involved, making it so incredibly complicated. You wonder, “How could there ever be peace with all these moving parts?”
Some of you might be at a place where you, to this day, have not forgiven your mom or your dad for something that happened years and years ago.
Today, we are going to look at one of the Beatitudes of Jesus. I have tremendous expectations that God is going to do a lot of healing in a lot of hearts. This is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called children of God.” Say it again. “Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.”
Here is the wild thing about this being the Beatitude that we are studying today. Months ago, way back in the spring before I even moved to Lubbock, I had a meeting with the creative worship planning team here at LakeRidge and we selected all of the sermon series and messages for July through Christmas at that time. This is how good God is, church. He knew what we would need today before we did. I believe he guided us to have “Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called children of God.” From the looks of my social media feeds, before and since election day, we are a people who could desperately benefit from those of us who are seeking to live as followers of Jesus Christ committing ourselves to peace making.
No matter if your candidate won or lost, it is time to be committed to peace making and there is no better place for us to start than within the context of our own families. Thanksgiving dinner is coming, folks, and many of us will find ourselves gathered around the table with family members who do not share the same political opinions that we hold which can get really, really awkward if we aren’t committed to living as peace makers. You can thank me for this later.
Now, when Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace makers,” there are two words from the original biblical language that’s translated as “peace.” In the New Testament, the Greek word is the word “eirene” and the Hebrew word is “Shalom.” For years, the word “Shalom” has been a well-known greeting. The original words for “peace” meant a little more than often what we think in our English language word for peace.
The word peace, “shalom,” it means more than just the absence of bad such as, “I wish that you don’t have hard times.” It also means, “I wish you the highest good.” When Jesus says, “Blessed are the peace makers,” he doesn’t just mean, “I want your home to be strife free,” but “I also want you to have the highest good.”
When Jesus said this, just like the other Beatitudes, everybody listening would have been shocked. These were very counter-cultural statements because everyone there had been raised with the mindset of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” You know, “Someone hits you, you hit them back.” “Blessed are the peace makers.” There is a higher calling for those of you that want to follow me.
Now, if you’ll notice, he said, “Blessed are the peace makers,” he didn’t say, “Blessed are the peace keepers.” There’s a big difference. For years and years, I was kind of a peace keeper, and so are you, but there’s a difference.
What are peace keepers? Peace keepers often avoid conflict to keep the peace. Peace keepers will work around the issues not through the issues, trying to keep the peace. And so, we get to this place where we say, “Oh, let’s just make a truce. Let’s just not talk about it. Let’s get together at family dinners and we’ll smile and act as if we’re getting along although we really know there’s tension behind the scenes. But we’re not going to show it because we are happy at this meal, no fighting.” Okay?
And then what happens, months go by then something sets you off or somebody else and then there’s ”I’m sick and tired of you. You did this and this and this and this.” And you’re wondering, “Where did all this come from?” What happened were there were dozens of unresolved issues along the way. Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are the peace keepers.” He said, “Blessed are the peace makers.”
What will a peace a maker do? A peace maker will embrace conflict and use it as a bridge to peace. We’re not going to work around the issues, we’ll work on the issues; we’ll work through them. With the help of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, we believe there can be peace in our homes.
Which brings us to our key thought for this series which is that we don’t want to do more than simply claim the name Christian. We want to live as those who are Christ-centered. We want to have Christ-centered families. Jesus isn’t just a part of our life, but he is our life. We are fully devoted, following and serving and knowing, and bringing glory to him.
In a cultural Christian home, in a home that’s Christian in name only, when there is a hard time, we just write somebody off. “Well, just forget them. We are not going to mess with them. Forgive them? After what they did, I would never forgive them. They’d have to come back to me, crawling on their hands and knees and then I’m just make them pay for a little while.” And that’s normal.
In a Christ-centered home though, we say, “What does Jesus teach us about how to do relationships?” And he said, “Blessed are the peace makers.”
Paul said something very complimentary in Romans 12:17-18 & 21. He said, “17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” And then v. 21, “21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”
For those of you sitting back going, “I hope old ‘so-and-so’ is listening to this because they need to hear it.” No, no, no. Let God speak to you. As far as it depends on you, you do everything possible to live at peace.
So, if we’re going to be a Christ-centered home and we’re going to be peace makers, what do peace makers do? What do they do?
The first thing peace makers do is they tell the truth in love. They tell the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 says, “We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.” Notice it doesn’t say to “Yell the truth in love.” Right? “You always leave your clothes out here!” You know, that’s yelling; that’s not in love. We tell the truth in love.
How do we tell the truth in love? A couple of things that are really, really important would be to tell the truth in love during non-conflict times. That’s the time we work on important issues. In other words, if someone is throwing a shoe at you because they’re angry, that’s not the time to raise a new issue. Okay? We work on them during non-conflict times.
The second thing I remember is that we attack the issue, never the person. We confront the issue, never the person. Non-conflict times and then confront the issue, not the person.
So for example, here is what you might say. “When you don’t listen to me, I don’t feel
that you value me.” That’s a I statement. “This is how I feel when you do this.” “When you talk over me, I feel really frustrated.” Or when confronting an issue — “When you continue to check your phone at the dinner table, the rest of us feel devalued.”
Let me pause just a moment there because I feel a God moment as he wants to speak to many of you right now. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, put your phones down and have a meal with your family in Jesus’ name. Okay?
So what we do is we confront the issue, not the person. And we do it at non-conflict times. We tell the truth in love. That’s what we do as peace makers.
The second thing is this: Peace makers also apologize when they’re wrong. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you might be healed.”
I want you to think a moment about this: What do you think your relationships would be like if, when you sinned, you confessed it. “I am so sorry. What I did was wrong. I sinned against you.” “Will you please forgive me?” And then you prayed together.
Can you imagine how incredibly different our relationships would be if we owned our own sins, confessed them, and then prayed together? Peace makers apologize when they’re wrong.
Now, how do we do this? We admit to specific actions without excuses. We say, “Here is what I did wrong,” and no excuses. You don’t dare say, “I’m sorry you got your feelings hurt, you big baby.” That’s not an apology.
We apologize for specifics. “I am so sorry that I belittled you in front of your friends. I have no excuse for that; that was wrong. I am really sorry I didn’t consider you. I should have called when I was late. I can see why you were so worried. I am sorry I raised my voice at you like that; that was disrespectful. Please forgive me.”
There’s a big difference between –and don’t miss this—between remorse and repentance. So often people stop with remorse. “Well, I’m sorry I got caught.” “I’m sorry we’re having this hard time.” “I’m sorry you got your feelings hurt.” “And I’m sorry we’re going through this.” That’s remorse.
Repentance is “I was wrong. I sinned. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” And when you sin, don’t stop with “I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry” is for mistakes. “Will you forgive me” is for sin. “I’m sorry I left the toilet lid up.” That’s a mistake. “Will you forgive me for treating you poorly,” that is sin. Don’t just stop at, “I’m sorry”, but when you’ve actually sinned against someone, “Will you please forgive me?”
And number three, what do peace makers do? Do not miss this: Peace makers forgive and let go. Peace makers forgive and let go.
At this point, I know, for a lot of you, there is a tremendous amount of pain. And some of you right now may be thinking, “Well, you don’t know what I’ve been through.”
And I just want to say, I may not have been through what you’ve been through but I do understand that betrayal is very difficult to forgive. Some of you have had someone that you trusted with everything in you and they lied and deceived you. They left you in a really, really hard place, that’s very difficult to forgive.
I know that there are those of you, many of you, who you have someone in your
family who should have protected you. And that person who should have protected you took advantage of you, abused you. So you say, “How in the world do I forgive that? I don’t even want to forgive. How do I forgive?”
I’m not going to tell you it’s easy, but I will tell you it’s doable. And it is incredibly important for a Christ-centered home.
And the Bible tells us how we do it: Colossians 3:13, Paul said, “13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
We are going to leave that one on the screen for just a moment. How do we forgive that which seems unforgivable? Paul said we do it this way. Everybody say it aloud. How do we forgive? “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Let me ask you again.
I want to ask you a question: Has the Lord forgiven you of a lot of sins? Man, I don’t know about you but he’s forgiven me a lot. Has the Lord forgiven you freely even though you did not deserve it and couldn’t earn it? That’s how we’re called to forgive, to freely forgive as we’ve been forgiven. That’s what Christ-centered homes do.
I want to say one thing to you and if you only remember one thing, I want you to remember this. I want you to listen clearly and listen carefully: Family is worth it. Family is worth it. And there are some of you that call yourself a Christian and you’re not acting like it. Family is worth it.
If we’re followers of Jesus, what do we do? When someone strikes us on one cheek, we turn the other one. When someone asks for our shirt, we give them our coat as well. What we don’t do is when marriage gets tough, just walk out and say, “Forget you; I’ll take my stuff. You take yours. I give up. I’m not happy right now.” What we don’t do is we don’t write our children off and say, “Well, you’ve done this, you’re no longer my child.” What we don’t do is we don’t walk away from our in-laws and say, “You’re annoying.” Of course, they’re annoying; you’ll be an in-law one day, and you’ll be annoying too. We don’t walk away from family; we don’t cut family out. Family is worth it.
We forgive as we’ve been forgiven. We show mercy as we’ve been shown mercy. While we’re at it, if we’re followers of Jesus, family isn’t just blood. Family goes beyond that into the body of Christ. When we act like Christ and forgive and show mercy and make peace, we are called children of God.
Joni and I are blessed to have two daughters. Guess what? They both look a little bit like me. Fortunately for them, they look more like Joni than they do me, but they both look a little bit like me.
And guess what? When we make peace and when we do everything possible to live at peace with everyone, and when we even take it and let someone hurt us and freely forgive, guess who we look like? We look like our Heavenly Father, created in his image, conformed to the likeness of his son. Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.