Blessed are the Peacemakers
by Hermanus W. Smeenk
One of the most difficult things for a Christian to do is to live up to this expectation that God inspired Jesus Christ to reveal to his disciples and those that would come after them. In Matthew 5 in which Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount to his disciples, he told them in verse 9 "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Paul tells us in Romans 8:12-14, 16 "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God".
In previous bible studies I have shown what our human nature is capable of doing, how it causes us to hate those that offend us, how we naturally offend others through our selfishness, our pride and greed. This is something we have lived with during our entire lives and it is not easy to think kindly of anyone that has offended us either by word or by deed. There is not one human being that has not been offended or has not offended anyone else. Sometimes we offend others without realizing how they receive our words or actions. Some individuals we think of as being either thick-skinned, that is, being unaffected by anything we say or any hints we may drop to affect their attitude, or being thin-skinned, those that wear their feelings right on the surface, those that are so sensitive that they take offense at the least provocation, whether intended or not.
Whatever the attitude of others, whether they are sensitive or insensitive, we must develop a sensitivity towards the feelings of others so that our words or actions do not provoke them to anger. This, and our own impressions of the attitude of others towards us, make it so difficult for us to overcome our natural instinct to preserve our self esteem and to overcome our offensive attitude towards the actions or words of others. How can we even begin to overcome our reticence towards putting the feelings of others before our own? Jesus gave us this encouraging admonition in Matthew 19:26 "...with God all things are possible." Since only God can help us to overcome our human nature, we must go to the pages of the bible to find an answer to our question.
God gave us his written word to help us and guide us in living a righteous life by following the examples recorded throughout the bible of the righteous men and women who lived before us. Paul tells us in Romans 15:4, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." And again, in II Timothy 3:16 and 17 he wrote, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." David also wrote in Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." In Hebrews 11 the writer lists many men and women whose lives were recorded in the pages of the Bible and lived righteous and God-fearing lives, of whom God inspired the writers of the books of the bible to record that their lives and attitudes were pleasing to Him. So, it is to these individuals to whom we must look and follow their example.
One of these individuals was King David about whom much was written in I and II Samuel, I Chronicles, and who also wrote much of the Psalms. He provided many inspirational thoughts and comments, including a description of his own weaknesses and how he overcame them with Godís help. Another individual was Daniel who was made strong in the faith by refusing to worship any other being than God. His custom was to pray three times a day facing Jerusalem at an open window in his apartment. He, too, looked to God for his help and inspiration. These are but two of the godly men written about in the bible for our inspiration. And, of course, there was Jesus himself, who set us the ultimate example. By our human standards, Jesus would have had every right to prevent Judas from doing what he planned to do, but instead Jesus told Judas to go do quickly what he had to do, knowing that Judas was set to betray him that very night. And again, Jesus could have protested vehemently that he was innocent of the charges filed against him by the Sanhedrin, but instead, He said not a word. Also, after He had been nailed up on the cross, He prayed for his executioners asking that God would forgive them, rather than hurling insults and invectives at them from the cross. Stephen, too, when he was being stoned by the hate filled people, elders, and the scribes, prayed for God to forgive them, rather than hurling insult and abuse at his enemies.
Having studied the lives and the examples set for us by the god-fearing men and women of the Bible, it is very helpful for us to meditate on what we have learned from our bible study. When meditating, we need to think about the trials that they experienced and what actions they took to help them face the trials and to overcome them. Then we can compare their trials to our own to see how they may apply to us in our situation. In Colossians 4:8, Paul states, "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things." David also wrote in Psalm 119:97, "O how love I thy law, it is my meditation all the day." In verse 99 he tells us, "I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation." Meditation helps us to keep our mind on God and to perform His will. And what is His will? Jesus told his disciples in John 15:8-12, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so I have loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fatherís commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you."
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul advises us, "Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Jesus also stated in John 15:7, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." And in John 16:23 Jesus told his disciples, "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." James also wrote in James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." Also, in I John 5:13-15, the apostle John instructed the Church, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." So, if we ask God to show us the things we lack, He will give us understanding and will provide what ever we need to lead a Christian life.
From the pages of the bible we find that we can learn from the mistakes and actions taken by others that have been recorded for our instruction. In I Corinthians 10:13, Paul wrote to the Corinthians that, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." This tells us that we can be assured that the problems and trials we face have also been faced by others, and that they have been able to overcome them with Godís help. So also must we look to God to help us with our trials. As difficult as it may seem, we must make every effort not to offend our brothers or sisters in Christ. As we read above, Godís will is that we should love one another. Therefore, if we ask God to help us not to offend others, but to love our brothers and sisters, he will enable us to do so because we ask it according to His will. And, if we are offended by our brother or sister, we need to talk to that person to let them know that the things they say or do offend us, and if they are sorry for it, it is Godís will that we should forgive them. Jesus taught his disciples in Mark 11:24-26, "Therefore I say unto you, what things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."
To strengthen us in our resolve to obey Godís commandment and to love one another, we must remain close to God. If we are true Christians, if we have received Godís Holy Spirit and it is working in us, then we will want to live our lives so that our actions will not offend others. We can accomplish this through meditating on the precepts written for our instruction and correction in the bible and through believing prayer to God. James also states in James 4:7-8, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" When we remain close to God through bible study, meditation, and prayer, and if we ask our Father in Heaven for it, He will give us the power to overcome our human nature and our selfish motives. In Colossians 3:12-13 Paul wrote: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering: forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
If we ask God, He will give us the love we need to love our brothers and sisters as Jesus commanded us. When we love one another, we will be careful not to offend others or to be offended by others. For as Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:4, "Love suffers long and is kind, love envies not, love vaunts not itself and is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, (and) endures all things." When we do these things, we too, will be known as peacemakers and children of God.
Continue on to the next chapter where we'll discuss why we should observe the 7th day of the week instead of the 1st day as is the practice of professing Christianity. The chapter's title is, "Why Observe the Seventh Day?"
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