In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that when someone strikes your cheek, you should turn your other cheek to him as well. If you are sued for your coat, you should give your cloak too. Jesus told us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who misuse us. It seems beyond the capacity of mortal man to make peace in the face of deliberate unjust treatment. However, let us live our lives close to God, so that in times of testing He can inspire us to say and do the things that make for peace. The power to return good for evil comes from our resurrected Lord.
Someone once said, “Life is not fair, yet God is good.” We should consider how to serve the Lord joyfully and be at peace with Him regardless of life’s circumstances. God’s peace in our hearts will affect our attitude toward others and inspire us to be peacemakers; His peace will flow through us to others. We can be strong in the Lord and help carry someone’s load. We can speak the gracious word that lifts someone’s burden. We can show the world that a nonresistant attitude and being a peacemaker changes our heart and affects our whole life. It means much more than not voting, serving on a jury, or going to war.
When we serve God with joy, we humbly face the challenges of life, allowing Him to mediate difficult situations by giving us gracious words to say and kind deeds to do. Sometimes even gentle humor can brighten a situation that seems bleak and soften someone who is unyielding. It is God’s will that we live peacefully with our spouse, our children, our neighbors, friends, and brothers and sisters in the faith. It will be difficult to be a peacemaker if we hold doggedly to our opinions or cling to our own way of doing things. Those who find it hard to apologize and admit wrongdoing create stress for their fellowmen.
We have often been helped by the gracious words of others when our own heart is in turmoil. Such kindness warms our heart, causing us to appreciate their consideration. To show love and respect, even in difficult circumstances, is what it means to be a peacemaker.
Forgiveness is part of peacemaking, but is foreign to the carnal mind. A religious community in North America was targeted by a lone gunman who came into a church and killed several people, including a child. This community responded in love and forgiveness, praying for this angry man. The nation took note of the character of this family who extended forgiveness and love to the murderer rather than calling for the full extent of justice. Only God’s work in the heart can enable us to be that kind of witness. Jesus willingly took malicious mocking and cruel beating and finally died on the cross to pay for the sins of all people, even His tormentors. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Though there will be times to stand our ground and not compromise the truth, peacemaking sometimes requires us to surrender what we believe to be true and want to defend. There are times that to state our conviction or push our point will only make things worse and possibly close our door to resolve a difficult situation. Under some conditions, God may have us gently state our point and then let Him work things out in His own way and time. As we pray in these circumstances and entreat God’s will, He will prompt us with what to do. In some situations, our muted show of love will speak louder than our words.
The love of God in our heart is what makes us a peacemaker. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love bears all things, endures all things, and gives others the benefit of the doubt. Love is kind and forgiving. May God fill our hearts with love so that we can be the peacemakers that He has called us to be.
From Adult and Youth Sunday School Lessons, April 8, 2018