Jan 20 2019 The Things that Matter Most - How to be a Peacemaker

Lord, thank You for what Suzanne and Patty shared with us this morning before we took communion and remembered Your death for us on the cross, that Your blood was shed and Your body broken, to demonstrate Your great love for us. We depend on that for everything. Thank You for giving us life.

Matthew 5:23 "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

So for the beginning – the first several weeks of 2020 – we are looking at the things that matter most – the priority of healthy and harmonious relationships

One of the most important things – presenting an offering – if there is a broken relationship, address that, and then present to the Lord.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the sons of God.

If you are a peacemaker – you are a son of God. You are His faithful image-bearer. We are called to be image bearers. When we make peace with others – we are faithfully representing God in this world.

Talk about peacemakers – some of us are CONFLICT AVOIDERs – that is not the same thing! Often, they are separate from one another – they often don’t make peace, but avoid conflict.

Romans 12: 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

That is a big instruction! If it is possible – as much as it depends on you – do all you can to have peace in our relationships. We need to take the initiative to do that.

I want to start by looking at some hindrances to peace.

First – do not be proud – be willing to associate – PRIDE – ARROGANCE – superiority of opinion. I have a perfect example of this from my own life from a few days ago. I am learning something.

I was having a discussion with some folks – there was some disagreement – and as we began the discussion – it was evident to me that I had looked into this topic more than the others. So it was tempting to think of myself as having superior knowledge – but thankfully, God prevented me from doing that. God brought to mind the phrase – seek first to understand, then to be understood. The tendency is to think – you need to hear my point! You need to hear my knowledge in this situation. So at first, I said nothing – hoping to understand. First – I learned some valuable things! How did that happen! It wasn’t an argument – but a discussion like that. Then I found myself respecting the other person more. Then third – I still shared where I disagreed – but I found that I did it in such a way that I wasn’t thinking myself better – or even coming across as if I did.

Disagreement and conflict do not have to cause disharmony and division – and disagreement and conflict should not wreck relationships! They are a part of relationships!

Young couples going into marriage counseling – We love one another – it will be okay – we won’t disagree. The more you learn about the other person’s perspective, the more you will respect their opinion – and the deeper your convictions will become! That seems contradictory – like, if I respect their opinion, what will become of me?! We think – the stronger my opinion is on something, the less respect I should have for those with whom I disagree. And I would say to that – that is an awful way to live! And I’ve also described social media!

Now, a caveat – I’m not talking about things that are sin – or even if someone is denying the essentials of practical orthodoxy.

Let me give you an example – if you grew up – or still are – with a perspective on money and it affects all kinds of things about how you view money. Oftentimes – the person you marry grew up with a different perspective on money – what about debt, credit cards, frivolous spending, giving? And if you go in with the attitude that my way is the right way – good luck with that! Let us know how it goes! Same with raising children – different forms of discipline and scheduling and structure – unless you’re the one couple that agrees on everything – these things will create conflict and will require us to say – maybe everything I think isn’t right .

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For the one who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by people. 19 So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.

Now in Romans – they are talking about FOOD! Now, what I mean by food – I don’t mean diet – but they had Jewish Christians who believed that to be faithful to God, you had to follow the Jewish food laws – and there were other Christians who said, no, we can ignore those – because we have Jesus! But this was about being a member in good standing – and if you didn’t believe the same – you were not in good standing. So we need to think of something in our world that is similar. You have the one side – trying to be faithful to the food codes – and they were judging those who weren’t. And then you have the other side – saying – what a bunch of knuckleheads! How ignorant you are – and Paul comes in and says – pursue what makes for peace!

Then He says this in verse 4:

Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

This is a good thought when you get in a conflict – who are you to judge or look down on that other person. And the Lord is the one who is able to make him stand!

Here is a second hindrance – if we enter a discussion with the motrivation to win, you are not seeking peace or pursuing it.

You may find yourself winning arguments, but losing the peace and that is a problem. Paul wants us to win the peace – and a key in doing that – when you get in a disagreement – seek to understand first – then to be understood.

On the positive side – use disagreements to seek to connect – as an opportunity to connect with people – focus through the disagreement on strengthening the relationship.

As we went through this discussion – I recognized that there was a gap in our opinion -but what came out of it was a greater connection relationally. A word I thought of – learning to be a person of indifference – not apathetic – but not setting your heart on an outcome, but leaving that in God’s hands. My heart is not going to be set on an outcome. And in this discussion – I started calculating it all in my brain – and said – I’ve got nothing to lose here. It brought everything down in my spirit – lowered it all (in a good way).

Sometimes we get argumentative – because – we feel like we are going to lose something. Let’s take politics… (let’s not!)

In a family – it sometimes happens that people have disagreements – and sometimes, people in a family are actually in different political parties! And if someone in your family went to a different party – it might feel like you’ve lost something. But in actuality – you’ve lost nothing – you can still have a great family relationship with those of a different party –

I accidentally called the high schoolers millennials – and they made it clear that they are not in that group….

People under the age of 40 and older than 23 – there are those who grew up in contemporary Christian churches – and some are looking for churches that are more liturgical in style. I mentioned that to some of my pastor friends whose children had decided to join a more liturgical, traditional church. It was easy for the parents to feel like they failed or that they were losing something.

Ephesians 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

So here are some necessary character qualities to be a peacemaker – first – humility – (and this begins in humility toward God – and one another. Your humility before others is indicative of your humility before God. The demonstration of how humble you are before God is how humble you are toward others – check out last week’s message – Philippians 2, having a high view of others and viewing ourselves as servants.

Gentleness and patience. I have found for myself – when someone disagrees with an opinion that I hold strongly – I can tend to not be patient and not be gentle.

Paul told Timothy to treat those in opposition to the faith in gentleness and patience. How much more, those who are in the family.

Finally –

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Again – we need to engage in discussion – it is important to make relationships work – when you present your wisdom – here is how it should be done:

Peaceable – Sure, it is unwavering – it doesn’t mean we are not people of conviction – but that conviction must be peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and full of good fruit. Some think real conviction should be obnoxious. But it is not.

I think sometimes we do with our wisdom what Jesus tells us not to do:

Matthew – 7: 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

This is about someone giving their wisdom to someone improperly.

Do not judge – Romans 14 – judging destroys personal relationships…

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Humility is being able to see the log in our own eye, and not just the speck in your brother’s eye.

4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

What he is saying – it is giving wisdom to people who, in one sense, have no need of it – it is your wisdom – or, giving wisdom to people in such a way as to manipulate them into a behavior you want them to possess – taking something good and making it worthless, because we are not doing it with an attitude that is peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruit.

Lord, thank You – help us to hear from You. Speak into our hearts – that we might be more like You – as we interact with others. Make us peacemakers. In Your Name we pray.

Colossians 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Sunday Service: 10:00 am
Adult Sunday School: 9:00 am

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