Is your home peaceful? We’re looking at the teachings of Jesus in Mathew, chapter 5, in a section that’s known as the Beatitudes where Jesus gave us 8 different directions for those who would be happy or blessed. Today, I want to look at “Happy are the Peacemakers.”
Jesus was talking to everybody, but since we just celebrated Mother’s Day, we’re applying this beatitude to our homes.
So many homes are not as happy, I believe, as God would want them to be. I want to look at how to have peace in the home. Many of our homes are not characterized as homes of peace, but conflict, 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. You may think, “Yes, you’re talking to me. My home’s got a lot of dysfunction in it, but most of it’s not my fault.” It’s true that every home has at least one incredibly difficult family member.
Relationships are difficult and challenging. It’s amazing how easily we can slip into dysfunctional cycles in our relationships. Maybe, you’re trying to raise your kids and your mom keeps looking over your shoulder, giving you tension between you and your mom. Or maybe, it’s your kids. They fight all the time and you find yourself saying things you thought you’d never say like, “Don’t make me pull this car over!” Maybe, you 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 and you’re trying to raise your kids, and her kids, and our kids, and there’s ex’s involved, and it’s so incredibly complicated. And you wonder, “How could there ever be peace with all these moving parts?” Some of you, 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, as we look at this teaching of Jesus, I have hope that God can do some healing our hearts.
This is what Jesus said,
“Happy are the peacemakers; God will call them his children! Matthew 5:9 (TEV)
The Hebrew word for peace is “Shalom.” “Shalom” has been a well-known greeting, still even today. This word for “peace” means more than what we think in our English language. The word peace, “shalom,” means more than just the absence of bad, it also means, “I wish you the highest good.” When Jesus says, “Happy 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.” Happy are the peace makers for they’ll be called Children of God. And when Jesus said this, just like the other 7 Beatitudes, everybody listening would have been shocked. These were very counter-cultural statements because everyone there had been raised with the mindset “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” Someone hits you, you hit them back. Jesus was saying something that was very shocking, “Happy 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, “Happy are the peace makers,” he didn’t say, “Happy are the peace keepers.” And there’s a big difference. For years, I was a type of a peace keeper, and can default to that easily, some of you have been as well. But there’s a difference.
What are peace keepers? Peace keepers often avoid conflict to keep the peace. Peace keepers, they’ll work around the issues not through the issues, trying to keep the peace. Like, “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 like 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.” And then months go by, then something sets you off or somebody else and there’s a blow up. “I’m sick and tired of you! You did this and this and this and this!” And you think, “Where did all this come from?” Answer: there were dozens of unresolved issues. Jesus didn’t say, “Happy are the peace keepers,” He said, “Happy are the peace makers.” What will a peace a maker do?
A peace maker will embrace conflict to keep the peace. We’re not going to work around the issues, we’ll work on the issues; we’ll work through them. And with the help of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, we believe there can be peace in your homes.
Let’s look at 3 Actions of a Peace Keeper in a family setting:
- 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.” If we are growing like Christ we will tell the truth in love. Notice it doesn’t say to “Yell the truth in love “You always leave your clothes out here!” We tell the truth in love. How? Two helpful tips: 1. Work on an issue, or talk about a problem during a non-conflict time. 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. We work on them during non-conflict times. Secondly, attack the issue, never the person. As people seeking to grow like Christ, we tell the truth in love. We love them enough not to work around the issues, but to work through the issues. Here are a few statements that might be helpful of what you might say. “When you don’t listen to me, I don’t feel like you value me.” That’s a statement. “This is how I feel when you do this.” “When you lie to me about something really insignificant, I find it difficult to trust you,” or — we’re confronting the issue — “When you continue to check your phone at the dinner table, the rest of us feel devalued.” It’s so important to spend time with your family: put your phones down and have a meal with your family. Confront the issue, not the person, and do it at non conflict times. That’s how we tell the truth in love. That’s what we do as peace makers.
2. Peace makers 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.” What do you think your relationships would be like if, when you hurt someone 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 faults, confessed them, and then prayed together? Peace makers apologize when they’re wrong. Now, how do we do it? We admit to specific actions without excuses. “Here is what I did wrong,” and no excuses. You don’t dare say, “Well, sorry I looked at something that was inappropriate but if you’d been meeting my needs, you wouldn’t have driven me to do that.” That’s not an apology; that is pathetic. “I’m sorry you got your feelings hurt, you big, old 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’re 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 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 deceiving you,” that is sin. Don’t just stop at, “I’m sorry”, but when you’ve actually sinned against someone, “Will you please forgive me?” Happy are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God. Christ calls us not just to wish the absence of harm but the highest good. He calls us to something more. So, we tell the truth in love, we apologize when we’re wrong.
- Peace makers forgive and let go. There is a tremendous amount of pain in so many lives. And you may be thinking, “Well you don’t know what I’ve been through.” Perhaps, your spouse betrayed you, committed adultery, maybe multiple times. And you think, “How can I forgive them?” Maybe you’ve got someone that you trusted with everything and they lied and they deceived you and left you in a really hard place and that’s very difficult to forgive. Some of you have someone in your family who should have protected you. And that person who should have protected you took advantage of and you abused you. And you think, “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. The bible tells us how we do it: Colossians 3:13, Paul said, “To bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.” Now, how do we forgive that which seems unforgivable? Paul said we do it this way. “We forgive as the Lord forgave you.” I want to ask you a question: Has the lord forgiven you of a lot of sins? I don’t know about you but he’s forgiven me of a lot. Has the Lord forgiven you freely even though you did not deserve it and couldn’t earn it? And that’s how we’re called to forgive, to freely forgive as we’ve been forgiven. That’s what we do as Christ followers.
Family is worth it. And there are some of you that you 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? What we don’t do is when marriage gets tough, just walk out, 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 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. And 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. And when we act like Christ and we forgive, and when we act like him and we show mercy, and when we act like him and we make peace, we are called “Children of God.” I’ve got 3 children. Guess what? They all look a little bit like me. Those who are lucky look more like Niki! And guess what? When we make peace and when we do everything possible to live at peace with everyone, and when we freely forgive, guess who we look like? We look like our Heavenly Father, created in his image, conformed to the likeness of his son. Happy are the peace makers for they will be called Children of God.