Peacemakers, Love, and Forgiveness

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:18-19).

Image created using the YouVersion Bible app.

Being a peacemaker and living at peace with others is not easy. It requires patience, forgiveness, and compassion. Sometimes, it requires special empowering by the Holy Spirit. Jesus would not have said “Blessed are the peacemakers” if it was something that comes easily or naturally. None of the Beatitudes come naturally.

Romans 12 begins a very pragmatic section of Paul’s most famous letter. After a detailed, heavily theological, description of salvation and the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:17; 16:26) and Israel’s status in relation to the New Covenant in Christ, he provided practical instructions for godly living, answering the question, “How then should we live?” (to borrow Francis Schaeffer’s wording).

In light of the free gift of salvation and all that God has done for us through Christ, Paul wrote:

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).

This is not a call to the solitary ascetic life of a hermit. It is tempting to seek renewal of the mind by getting away from everybody and meditating upon God and His Word. In some ways, that would be easier than what God really desires from us. My Bible and I can be best friends. I can keep turning to the pages and passages that make me feel good about myself and assure me that God loves me, so everything is okay in my life. However, there is a fine line between mystic contemplation and escapist fantasy. God calls us present our bodies to Him and be transformed by the renewing of our minds in the messy reality of life. Things can get ugly around us, but He calls us to bring His beauty into that mudhole.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13).

Jesus calls us to love our neighbors. It will require putting the needs of others before ourselves. We will need to show love for others, be humble, remain faithful in prayer, and be generous. The “me first” mentality many of us have learned over the years must be cast aside. A devoted disciple of Jesus will often surrender himself to God by sacrificing to others. Paul says we should be devoted to prayer; he also says we should be “devoted to one another in brotherly love.” Prayer to God and love for our neighbors go hand-in-hand.

However, that will put us in contact with those who may not be too lovable. Some people might persecute or mistreat us (Romans 12:14). The Lord tells us to bless and pray for them (cf. Matthew 5:44).

It is in those awkward circumstances that we should be peacemakers. When conflict attempts to rear its ugly head, we should offer reconciliation and understanding, even when we cannot agree with the other person. When we experience unkind words, unfair treatment, neglect, or other forms of hurt, we should forgive. Instead of avoiding the perpetrator, we may be challenged to bless or assist them.

It is not easy. It may not be comfortable. It may even go against what you learned in church. But, it is how God calls us to be peacemakers: not by avoiding conflict, but by overcoming it with love, mercy, grace, and the presence and power of His Holy Spirit working through us. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). That is how we can bring peace to our corners of this troubled world.

Lord, we long for peace in our hearts, minds, homes, and daily lives. Use us as peacemakers in the lives of those around us. Equip us to be peacemakers who bring Your peace to those who need it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How can you practically express God’s love and bring His peace to others today? Share your thoughts below.

Copyright © 2023 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

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