“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peaceMAKERS, not the peacekeepers. There’s a big difference. Peace keepers AVOID conflict to keep the peace. They’ll work around the issues, not through the issues.
Peacemakers EMBRACE conflict to keep or make the peace. They work THROUGH the issues, not avoid them.
How do we do this? What do peacemakers do?
1. They tell the truth in LOVE. Ephesians 4:15, “We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.” Notice it doesn’t say, “Yell the truth in love.”
How do we tell the truth in love? First, it’s important to do this during NON-CONFLICT times. That’s when we work on important issues. If someone is throwing a shoe at you, that is not the time to bring up a new issue.
Second, we attack the ISSUE, not the PERSON. We confront issues, not people. Here are some examples of what you might say. “When you don’t listen to me, I don’t feel like you value me.” That’s a statement. “When you lie to me about something really insignificant, I find it difficult to trust you.” or “When you continue to check your phone at the dinner table, the rest of us feel devalued.” So what we do is we confront the issue, not the person. And we do it at non-conflict times. And we tell the truth in love.
Third, never call the other person a NAME or use PROFANITY. I’m amazed how many couples I talked to that never use this rule for conflict. Calling names or using profanity just heightens the conflict and causes regret and reconciliation almost becomes impossible.
2. Peacemakers apologize when they’re WRONG. James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you might be healed.” Can you imagine how incredibly different our relationships would be if we owned our own sins, confessed them, and then prayed together?
How do we apologize
First, we admit to specific actions without EXCUSES. We don’t say things like, “I’m sorry you got your feelings hurt, but you are oversensitive.” That’s not an apology. That’s an excuse. We apologize for specifics. “I am so sorry I belittled you in front of your friends. I have no excuse for that; that was wrong.”
There’s a difference between remorse and repentance. So often people stop with remorse. “I’m sorry I got caught.” That’s remorse. Repentance is “I was wrong. I sinned. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
Second, don’t stop with “I’m sorry,” but ask, “Will you forgive me?” “I’m sorry” is for mistakes. “Will you forgive me” is for sins.
3. Peacemakers FORGIVE and let go. I’m not saying this is easy. If you’ve been betrayed this might be the hardest part of all. Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.”
How is this possible? We forgive as Christ forgives you.
That is not to say that you need to keep receiving poor treatment. Forgiveness does not mean you put up with being abused. Forgiveness does not mean you just let your partner cheat on you without a relational division. What it means is that you’ve given up your right to get back at them, that you leave it to God to deal with them and their sin. And when you do you’ll find that you are freer. Because refusing to forgive someone just chains us up to that sin. They may not even care less about you now. But holding on to their sin keeps rehearsing that sin done to you. You don’t want that. You can’t be blessed when you’re re-living the same pain done to you over and over again.