Are you a peacemaker? Or a peace-faker? Or a peace-taker?

We ended the last post from James with this verse

And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:18)

Pretty clear.  If we want righteousness in our lives..........and in the lives of those around us........we must be peacemakers.

Sounds good!

But what's a peacemaker?

The need for a peacemaker certainly implies that there is a lack of other words, a conflict of some degree.  We might label it tension, frustration, annoyance :) or even war.  Instead of mutual harmony, serenity, freedom from angst or disturbance.

So a peacemaker is one who can act as the catalyst to bring peace to a situation, to relationships. One who brings reconciliation, restoration.  And this seed of peacemaking results in the fruit of righteousness.  To all involved. 

Wow.  Powerful concept.

How can we be peacemakers?

First, know that the absence of visible conflict does not necessarily equal peace.  Because, instead of "making" peace, we can merely be "faking" peace.  Sweeping issues under the rug, pretending that all is well...all the while being bruised and battered by the inevitable bumps that accumulate under the rug.  Peace-faking is an escape response to the need for peace, either by denial or by flight (running away from the conflict such as withdrawing from a relationship, quitting a job or church, ending a relationship)
Peace-faking is terribly unsuccessful because it results in no resolution of the problems.  Although this response might bring some temporary relief from the angst and tension it will eventually make the situation worse.

Peace-takers are the opposite end of the spectrum from peace-faking.  This response might be disguised to look like an attempt at reconciliation but is actually an attack.  Peace-takers are interested in getting their own way rather than in preserving a relationship.  They use control (bullying, intimidation, verbal attacks) or manipulation (gossip, slander, pouting, withholding approval or affection) to overcome the "opponent" in a conflict.  This always makes the situation worse.

But a peace maker  is one whose example is Christ, whose inspiration is grace and whose goal is genuine harmony, understanding, and restoration.  Here are the things a peace maker does:

1.  Overlook an offense - Proverbs 19:11 says "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense".  Notice the verse doesn't say "to pretend it didn't happen".  To overlook it means to look past it, to see the bigger picture.  To value the relationship so much (and to want to imitate Christ so much!) that we absorb the cost of the offense.  Forgive.  Move past it. Don't let it fester and develop into bitterness and pent-up anger.  Overlook an offense.  Much peace could be achieved if we would just be willing to overlook offenses.

2.  Seek reconciliation - Matthew 5:23-24 exhorts us "If your brother has something against you...go and be reconciled".  If we have been the offender, this certainly applies.  But we also need to consider it when we think we are in the right......but perceive our brother thinks otherwise.  Tall orders, to be sure.  This requires divine humility, this removal of the log in our eye so that we can see how our brother might be viewing things (Matthew 7:5)  Again, valuing the relationship above our "personal rights".  Just like Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:6-8)

3.  Pursue restoration - Often, we are interested in resolving a conflict for selfish reasons.  We want to enjoy the peace instead of endure the tension.  But a peacemaker is focused on the restoration of the other person.  Even at personal cost.   With Matthew 7:5 in mind (and applied!), a peacemaker pursues the good of the offender - Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. ( Galatians 6:1)  Restoration.  Not for the sake of pointing out how somehow has wronged us but rather with the goal of restoring their fellowship with the Father.

Peacemaking.  It's costly.  It requires humility and sacrifice and's like Jesus.  It bears a harvest of righteousness.  In our lives and in the lives of others.

Blessed are the peacemakers,  for they will be called children of God  (Matthew 5:9)