Attitude Adjustment #7 - The Peaceful

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 9
Subject: Peacemakers; Peace; Beatitudes
Series: Attitude Adjustment - The Beatitudes
Introduction

We have seen six Beatitudes thus far.

#1 The Beggar

#2 The Weeper

#3 The Waiter

#4 The Seeker

#5 The Merciful

#6 The Watchful

And now we come to Beatitude #7 - The Peaceful.

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God."

What is one of the greatest human needs in our world today? Some would say more money, while others might suggest better schools. Still others contend that better health care is the highest priority. You want to know the real need? It is peace! Bombs explode in front of an open-air restaurant killing several and wounding dozens. Soldiers fight in foreign countries and many of them die each day. Our embassies around the world are fortresses against enemies. North Korea is led by a tyrant who has nuclear weapons. One national leader is calling for the annihilation of Israel. Terrorists are working every day to kill more Americans! Our world needs peace.

Peace is not just a problem for nations; it is a problem for individuals - and a serious one. Throughout my ministry I have discovered that the number one problem most people deal with in their lives is conflict with other people. At times the conflict is in the home, and at other times it is in the workplace with a boss or fellow employee. Lack of peace at home or work can lead to devastating circumstances. We read often of some domestic dispute that erupts in fighting, shooting or sometimes death. A disgruntled employee, who cannot control his anger, may go back to his place of employment and shoot the manager or fellow employees. We have seen a steep rise in the number of fights and violence in our schools. Sometimes even people in churches cause problems and create friction - they refuse to be peacemakers but rather create strife among leaders and among God's people. In my lifetime I have listened often to preachers tell sad stories about people who create disunity in the church over issues that are non-essentials. God's work has suffered immeasurably through the centuries because so few peacemakers exist in the church.

Let me tell you an interesting and humorous story I read in the book, "War In The Pews," by Frank Martin. "A pastor came home one day to find his daughter arguing with her friends in the bedroom. From the front hallway he could hear them yelling and calling each other names, so he quickly made his way up the stairs. `What's going on in here?' he asked as he entered the room. His five-year-old looked up at him and smiled. `It's okay, Daddy. We're just playing church!'" [War in the Pews by Frank Martin. InterVarsity Press, 1995. Page 24.]

It so sad that our children often learn to have poor attitudes, even in church, by watching how we fail to act in a peaceful manner in our homes and church life. It reminds me of the boy who asked his dad about the origin of war. "Dad, how do wars begin?" The father said, "Well, take the First World War, which got started when Germany invaded Belgium." Immediately his wife interrupted him. "Tell the boy the truth. It began because somebody was murdered." The husband drew himself up with an air of superiority and snapped back, "Are you answering the question, or am I?" Turning her back upon him in a huff, the wife walked out of the room and slammed the door as hard as she could. When the dishes stopped rattling in the cupboard, an uneasy silence followed, broken at length by the son. "Daddy, you don't have to tell me how wars begin; I know now!"

Creating a peaceful atmosphere is the task of every Christian - young and old. It beings in the heart and must extend to every part of our lives. Jesus pointed out that peacemakers are a blessing, but they are also blessed by the Lord. Note with me three truths on the subject of having an attitude of peacemaking and how to create peaceful surroundings in our lives.

I. The Serious Nature of this Beatitude

Being one who creates a peaceful atmosphere can make you a lifesaver and certainly saves people from stress and depression. There is very little quality of life when people are in conflict with one another. Sadly, most people make conflict worse rather than knowing how or even trying to make peace a reality.

Why is this Beatitude considered serious? This Beatitude involves how the world looks at us. Those who create peaceful circumstances are called the sons of God. We will either be peacemakers or troublemakers - and troublemakers do not enhance the image of God's people or God's kingdom.

I do need to make sure that you understand what this passage does not mean. It does not mean appeasement. It does not mean peace at any price. How do I know that? Because Jesus, Himself, said, "I did not come to bring peace upon the earth but a sword". What did Jesus mean? You cannot please everyone. You must seek with all diligence to be a peacemaker, especially among those to whom you relate the closest. For example, in your home, in your church, among your friends, you should be a true peacemaker and not a troublemaker. Paul wrote in Romans 12:18-19, "...if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (NKJV)

This is a serious Beatitude because it affects two things.

A. Our Witness for Christ

You cannot be a great witness for Christ and be constantly creating conflict with other people. To honor Christ, we must sometimes swallow our pride and trust Christ to correct a situation rather than taking matters into our own hands. Additionally, when we are wrong in a matter, we must admit it rather than allowing pride to harm our witness through the strife a bad attitude creates.

Let me give you an example concerning a lady who was invited to a local church. She said, "What? I would never go to that church. I was there once and those people are terrible. I would never go there no matter what changes."

What could she had said differently under the circumstances? She could have responded by saying, "Thank you for asking me, but I am happy at my current church. I do hope things are going well there and thank you for inviting me."

By answering in the latter fashion, she would have enhanced the cause of Christ for anyone listening to her. She would have encouraged the person who was inviting her and would have spoken a positive word for what her former church is currently doing for Christ. The lady in question was being a troublemaker rather than a peacemaker! That is a serious issue. Remember, the church does not belong to that lady - nor to any of us - it belongs to Jesus. We must always work in ways that protect His interest, not our interest!

B. Our Well-being in Body

I am not going into great detail, but I do want you to know that conflict creates great stress on the body. When we are in conflict, our blood pressure is raised, our heart arteries contract, our food is not digested properly, and we are prone to stress for hours, days or even years after we think the conflict is over. People do drop dead during angry outbursts. Remaining peaceful is good for your body - and remember, your body is the temple of God. People need God's peace more than Gold's Gym in order to be healthy and happy.

Being a peacemaker is a serious issue. Of course, this doesn't mean that we can avoid taking responsibility. There are times when conflict cannot be avoided and we have to step up with courage and take a stand for the Lord. Some stress is necessary and can be good for you. In other words, there is good stress and bad stress. We will talk about good stress next week when we come to the final Beatitude. But, we must note that the kind of conflict Jesus is dealing with in the current Beatitude is that of sinful conflict.

II. The Sin Related to this Beatitude

Look at James 4:1. Here James asks from whence the fighting and wars come among people? He goes on to answer the question. Look at what he said causes these problems. James 4:1, "Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" James goes on to say that this attitude leads us to quarreling, fighting, coveting and finally killing! We do all of this because we will not turn to God.

Three wars James mentions:

A. At War with One Another

These conflicts erupt because we do not act in a Christian manner toward others. We all have personalities and these personalities have tendency to conflict with those of other people. Neither is wrong, but not recognizing that normal differences exist can cause us to think that our own personality is perfect. Let me tell you something as kindly as I can – your personality is not perfect – not close to perfect! Don’t get me wrong – mine isn’t perfect either – but, of course, you knew that already.

We must learn to express God’s love to others even we there seems to be some sandpaper in the relationship. We can only do this when we are submitted to God and His will. That is exactly what Jesus is talking about in this Beatitude.

B. At War with Ourselves

This conflict arises because we do not act consistently with our own belief systems. Some people war with others because they can’t stand themselves. It’s true! People who have a poor view of their own lives tend to have a poor view of everyone else as well.

I am reminded of the man who ate some food that contained a lot of garlic and got some of it on his mustache. Everywhere he went that day he complained that the whole world stunk!

Some people are a problem because the problem starts right there in their own heart and life. Being a peacemaker means you must first be at peace with yourself, and that can only happen if you allow God to grant you that peace.

C. At War with God

The critical issue with being a peacemaker comes from people having a desire to control life rather than trusting God to take control. Many are like the guy I saw the other day with a bumper sticker that read, “God is my Co-pilot!” From the way he was driving, I don’t think God had anything to do with piloting his vehicle. God is never a co-pilot – He is the pilot or He simply gets out of the situation altogether!

Adrian Rogers once said that most people are a fight looking for a place to happen. Till you are right with God, you will be a troublemaker instead of peacemaker.

We do need to understand that the peace God calls for must not be at the expense of righteousness; in fact, the peace God calls for must contain righteousness. Look, for example, at James 3:17 and Psalm 85:10. Real peace demands righteousness. By this I mean that we must not forsake the righteousness of God in order to be at peace. If we accept sin in order to embrace peace, we are leaving off the priority issue. Again, that is why God said through Paul in Romans 10:18,"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." We must draw near to God as the first step to avoid entering, continuing or exacerbating conflict.

The greatest war or conflict in the world is to be at war with God. We must obey Him, love Him and serve Him in order to have peace, and all of this is contingent upon our first having a relationship with God through Christ. Read Romans 5:1. We have peace with God through Christ. No one listening to this message today should leave without making sure you have accepted Christ as your Savior and Lord. He will give you peace and He can make you a peaceful, peacemaking individual.

III. The Scope Found in this Beatitude

Being a peaceful person sounds like a simple issue; however, I want you to note that the scope of this virtue is broad and critical. There are three interesting issues related to this Beatitude.

A. This Beatitude Relates to Divinity

Look at Matthew 5:23-25. We are told that we cannot possibly relate to God properly if we do not relate to others properly. In other words, failure to obey this word may well cause us to miss a close walk with the Lord.

In 1 John 1:3 we read that fellowship with one another is a kind of fellowship with God. God has designed our relationship this way. It is a physical impossibility for us to draw near God without drawing near each other! Imagine a triangle with God at the top and you at one point at the bottom and another Christian at the other point at the bottom. For you to come close to God at the top, you must draw near to each other. As long as you remain apart, you remain distant from God!

When I preach, God is not looking at my preaching, but He is looking at my heart. When you teach, God is not looking at how good your teaching is, He is looking at your heart. When you teach, give, serve in any way, God is looking not at your service, He is looking at your heart.

You must be right with others if you would be fully right with God!

B. This Beatitude Relates to Humanity

My previous statements already make this point, but it must also stand alone as well. This Beatitude relates directly to the way we treat each other. In Psalm 133 we see this clearly. The dew of Mount Hermon is spoken of here. It means the water source for Israel, flowing down even unto Mount Zion, the place of redemption. When we dwell in unity, the liquid love of God flows down on us as a people, bathing us in His grace and resources. This matter is so important, that Jesus even prayed for it in His High Priestly prayer found in John 17:23.

1. Peace was Planned by the Father

2. Peace was Purchased by the Son

Ephesians 2:13-14, "He is our peace."

Colossians 1:19-20, "…having made peace through the blood of His cross."

3. Peace is Provided by the Spirit

Galatians 5, "…the fruit of the Spirit is peace."

C. This Beatitude Relates to Eternity

Notice in Matthew 5:23-25 that Jesus points out that the judgment day is coming. He is reminding us that we will all appear before Him one day. We are to so act toward each other that we will not be ashamed when we appear before the Lord on that day.

We should rid ourselves of all malice and all disagreements not related to righteousness. We must, for Christ's sake, love one another, forgive one another, and live in harmony with each other.

Let me tell you one important element of this Beatitude. The Bible tells us not to let the sun go down on our wrath. Why is that? We must not let the sun go down on our anger because anger and malice get worse in the night hours. As we lie upon our bed and think about what someone has done to us, we become even angrier. God has told us to settle these matters in our hearts while the sun is shining. Don't let a root of bitterness develop in your life. How can we do that?

The presence of Jesus always makes a difference. Where there was death, there was a resurrection when Jesus was present. Do you know that no one ever died in the presence of Jesus and no one dead every remained dead in His presence? That is true. Read the New Testament and you will find that the presence of Jesus removed death!  I think real peace is like that. When Jesus is present and His Lordship is recognized, peace will rule the hearts of the people. Where there was sickness in the New Testament, it disappeared when Jesus was present. His presence makes the difference!

I wonder if Jesus' presence makes any difference in your life. Jesus said you were to be different and to make a difference. You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. You are to make a difference in an unsavory world and in a dark world.

We must get close to Jesus. That is what these Beatitudes teach us. Get close to Jesus. You can't just live a good life and expect everything to turn out okay. No, you need to get near the Savior who loves you, who can show you how to forgive, show you how to love the unlovely, and show you how to be kind one to another.

God can show you how to win your enemies over or at least change their attitude. I love the story about the late Dr. Wallace Hamilton, novelist and playwright. He liked to tell the story of an Indian sheep farmer who had a big problem. His neighbor's dogs were killing his sheep. It got so bad that he had to do something. So he considered his alternatives. First, he could have brought a lawsuit and taken his neighbor to court. Second, he could have built stronger fences so that the dogs couldn't get in. But he had a better idea. He gave some lambs to his neighbor's children. When the lambs began to multiply and a little flock began to develop, the neighbor tied up his dogs, and the problem was solved. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." [Homiletics, Apr-Jun 1991. Page 13.]

Conclusion

There are some people with whom we cannot have a peaceful relationship - that is because they will not allow that to happen no matter what we do. But, as much as it depends on us, we must be peacemakers. Let me tell you where to start. Let's tell God the truth. Our attitude is not always right.

Conflict is sometimes our own fault. In the home, school, workplace and, yes, even in the church, we are not always easy to live with. Will you come to God today and ask Him to forgive you for the times your attitude is not that of a peacemaker? Will you come to the author or Peace - the Prince of Peace - Jesus - and allow Him to fill you with His peace today?

Let me share with you today, that if you have never trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will never experience true peace. He loves you. He died on the cross to break down the barrier between you and the Heavenly Father. Your sin has separated you from God, but Jesus is willing to remove your sin and open the way for a relationship with God –now and forevermore!

Let us respond now to the call of the Spirit that is issuing a call for our response.