What Are You Known For?
Families today are busy! There are multiple activities; family members are going different directions at different times; school, work, household duties, lessons, sports events, church activities, etc., all come together to make life stressful and frantic in many homes. Most of the things that occupy our time and attention tend to slowly chisel away our time with the Father – individually, and as a family. When personal and family worship are neglected, tempers tend to flare, selfishness and personal agendas are inclined to reign, and chaos often results.
This is a picture of many Christian households today. The secular world has encroached upon our lifestyles so invasively that we have forgotten how to live in peace with one another and those around us. Yet, in the midst of our busy times, Jesus speaks into our culture and says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). How can we develop, maintain, or rediscover the blessedness of peacemaking in our families? The beatitudes, which we have been studying for several months, can give us a most insightful look at God’s desires for His people. In Matthew 5:3-8, Jesus reveals God’s basic conditions for a peacemaker. These verses are the foundation for our families to build upon as we learn how to be peacemakers.
• The Father blesses us when we are poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). He wants us to come to Him in a poor and needy state spiritually. Our relationship to God should be one of total humility and dependence. He will pour out His spiritual riches upon us when we come to Him with open hearts and hands, hungering and thirsting for more of Him. If we are filled with pride and self-sufficiency, God cannot use us, because we are demonstrating that we have no use for Him. What we must have is the realization that apart from God, we are and can do nothing (John 15:5-8). We cannot be a peacemaking family unless we are first "poor in spirit."
•The Father blesses us when we mourn (Matthew 5:4). God brings comfort to us in two basic areas of mourning: when we have recognized sin leading to repentance and confession, and when we are going through painful experiences or loss. Part of the process of learning to be a peacemaking family is to recognize that through repentance, pain and loss, God can bring us the comfort of His peace. It is this peace that we are to extend to our family members, and to others.
• The Father blesses us when we are meek (Matthew 5:5). Remember that meekness is "strength under control." It is the strength of God demonstrated through the life of Jesus. "But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace" (Psalm 37:11). If we will do and say only what we see our Father doing and saying, we will become a family of peacemakers who will receive God’s provision and blessing.
• The Father blesses us when we "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6). "The fruit of righteousness will be peace…" (Isa. 32:17). "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:18).
• The Father blesses us when we are merciful (Matthew 5:7). "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).
• The Father blesses us when we are pure in heart (Matthew 5:8). "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).
These are powerful prerequisites for peacemaking families to cultivate. We cannot be peacemakers that reflect the attitude of Christ until we have learned to live more like Him.
The Characteristics of Peacemaking FamiliesNow that we have reviewed the Lord’s lessons on how to become effective peacemakers, let’s take a comprehensive look at what Scripture clearly teaches about the characteristics of peacemaking individuals and families:
•Jesus is their peace. "He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will live securely, for then His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And He will be their peace" (Micah 5:4-5). "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33). "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful" (Colossians 3:15). We can be a peacemaking family when we follow Jesus’ example as a peacemaker, and allow peace to rule within us. His life was foundationally peaceful, and He passed on to us His peace, which was not of the world but which has overcome the world. Peacemaking families know that they must learn to live like Christ: "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:9).
•They have peace in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus their Lord (2 Peter 1:2). Families who seek God’s knowledge and apply it will become spiritually prepared to be peacemakers. Here is a powerful prayer from Colossians 1:9-10 to pray when asking for His knowledge: "Father, please fill us with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we may live lives worthy of You and please You in every way." Very simply, God promises to give wisdom to those who will ask: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5). "Her [wisdom’s] ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace" (Prov. 3:17). "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:17-18).
• The Lord establishes their peace as they trust in Him. "The Lord blesses His people with peace" (Psalm 29:11b). "May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through…" (1 Thessalonians 5:23a). "Lord, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us" (Isaiah 26:12). "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Heb. 12:11). Peacemaking families are aware that their peace has not come about because of their own doing, but because the Lord has developed it in them when they have been willing to accept His training and discipline. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
• They are intercessors. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). When families place their trust in God’s absolute ability, they will not spend time in worry and anxiety. Families who spend time in prayer together know that peace is dependent upon leaving concerns at the foot of the cross of Christ. They know that it is vital to pray for one another, for friends and neighbors, for their pastors and churches, for their governmental leaders, etc. "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper" (Jeremiah 29:7). Every family has an obligation to pray for the city where they reside. Families who intercede on behalf of the land in which they live will receive God’s peace.
• They demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in their lives: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). Families that have allowed the fruit of the Spirit to penetrate their homes will have peaceful households that can extend God’s peace to others.
• They live in peaceful unity with others. "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Romans 14:19). "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18). "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other" (Mark 9:50). "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Peacemaking families do everything they possibly can to build unity in the body of Christ. This peace begins in the family and extends to God’s Church, into the community, and to the ends of the earth. "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). "…Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11).
• They are equipped for every good work. "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).
The Promised Blessing for Peacemakers: They Will Be Called Sons of God
The Lord has placed an extremely high value upon peacemakers, and we are all called to peace (Colossians 3:15). I believe the Beatitudes were taught in a specific order to prepare God’s families for their roles as peacemakers. It is interesting to note that every believer is a son (or daughter) of God because of His wonderful grace. "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13). "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26-28).
The peacemakers, however, will be set apart in a specific way. Those who live a life of peacemaking will be blessed by being called sons and daughters of God. My interpretation of this promise is that all born-again Christians are adopted into God’s family as a son or daughter of God (Romans 8:13-16); however, those who have walked so closely with Jesus that they have taken on His characteristic of peacemaking, will become known for it. They will be uniquely identified by God and others as individuals and families that bring peace to the body of Christ.
There is a difference in being something and being known for it. For example, there are many car mechanics in your community; however, there are probably only a handful that are really sought after because they are known for being a cut above the rest. They are the most honest, the most thorough, their prices are reasonable, and they give good service. Others might be mechanics by trade, but certain mechanics are really known for what they do better than anyone else.
Is your family known by believers and unbelievers for being peacemakers? Parents, will you train up your children to truly know the God of peace so that they may become known as His peacemaking sons and daughters? It is my heartfelt prayer that you will take time to carefully study this material and apply it to your lives. "Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you" (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
This series on the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 began in the October issue of 2004. Let us know if you need copies of the past issues to have the complete study, or go to our website at www.heraldofhiscoming.com and print them from the archives of past issues.