Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God – Jesus (Matthew 5:9)
There are people in this world that love conflict. And why do they love conflict? It’s because they love to win. Conflict provides a path to the winner’s circle. And there are a lot of people that spend a lot of time learning to win conflicts so they can feel the glory of the winner’s circle.
But we, as Christians, need to be very careful. There are battles that we are called to fight and there are battles that we are not called to fight. Knowing which is which is of vital importance. We must fight the right battle for the right reason. If we get stuck in the wrong battle or if we battle with the wrong motives, we get ourselves in trouble.
I remember hearing of the ghost armies of World War II. Fake camps were set up in various places to deceive the enemy. It would be complete with tents, supplies, and dummies dressed as soldiers. Enemy aerial surveillance was not able to tell that these camps were fake. The idea was to get the enemy to send their troops to out-of-the-way places in order to keep them from fighting the real battle. With the enemies troops away, it would be easier for them to win the important battles.
This is precisely the tactic used by the devil himself! I know, because he uses it with me, and it is sometimes successful! (To my shame). I find myself, at times, off fighting some dummy and missing the important battles! Who’s the real dummy? Me!
This calls for wisdom. What battles do we fight and in what battles to we make peace?
The answer is most simply understood in Paul’s statement in Ephesians 6:12. In one sentence he tells us what battles we should be fighting and what battles we shouldn’t:
We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, abasing spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12
This is so, so important to understand. I can’t overemphasize the importance of making sure we fight the right battles. As long as Satan can get us to fight dummies, he can advance his cause. Be careful! Opportunities to fight these dummy battles abound! You’ll find them everyday on facebook, twitter, youtube, etc. It’s easy to get sucked into them and it’s easy to be overtaken by them. Trust me, I know!
God hasn’t called us to fight battles with people. He’s called us to make peace with them. Blessed are the peacemakers, He said.
Now it isn’t always possible to have peace with people, but it should always be our aim. Paul said this:
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. – Romans 12:18
There are heated political battles that are being fought every day and we need to be careful. We are zealous for truth and zealous for God, but if we go after the ghost armies, we will ultimately lose the battle. We have to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove. We must learn to promote truth yet pursue peace. It’s a delicate tightrope to walk, but we must seek to walk it the best that we can. Many of the best of us will slip off from time to time, but we must always get back to it, for peacemaking is what we are called to.
How does one promote truth yet pursue peace? Well, like I said, it’s a tightrope walk, but it can be done. We must NEVER sacrifice truth for the sake of peace, but we must always pursue peace in our quest to promote truth.
I don’t see this very often among many Christians today. In fact, I see a blatant disregard to pursue any kind of peace. Instead, I see proud people who feel like truth alone is the highest good. They feel that to promote truth, however ugly it may be, is of prime importance. Many even revel in shattering peace in their promotion of truth. This is evil. The Bible says that grace AND truth came by Jesus Christ. Not just truth; grace AND truth. We must learn to be gracious in all that we do. If not, then according to Jesus, we will not be called the sons of God, no matter how much truth we might promote.
What does this look like practically?
In practice, we must live with the understanding that Jesus has called us to be peacemakers. We should ask ourselves in every situation where conflicts arise: “Can truth and peace prevail together in this situation?” Many times it can. And if it can’t, let it not be because of you. Let the other shatter the peace; it should not be you.
Boldly speak truth with love in your heart. Recognize that the flesh and blood that you are speaking with is not ultimately your enemy. Be gracious and as polite as possible with your speech. It should be, as Paul said, seasoned with salt. Make your words taste as good as possible to the listener’s ear. Perhaps you will win them over. Yet even if you don’t, those who listened in will see the grace by which you speak, they will see the love in your heart, and they will recognize the powerful self-control you exercised with your words. These things impress the world and bring glory to Christ. Amen.
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