Read His Words Before Ours!
For most of my life, I have lived with what some call the “good little Christian girl syndrome”. For me, this meant I thought being Christ-like meant always turning the other cheek, no matter what. I didn’t erect healthy boundaries, draw attention to sin in the lives of others, or say “no” to friends who demanded too much of me. But the Lord has been doing work in my heart over the last year by opening my eyes to the full reality of how Jesus lived His life and what that means for us today.
In the current age, we are often confused about what it means to cultivate peace in our everyday lives. We think peace looks like hiding the controversial, and sweeping everything under the rug. Many of us think it looks like never calling out sin, or never rebuking or admonishing a brother or sister in Christ. We think peace is never establishing boundaries and never raising a flag about what another believer is doing or saying…regardless of whether it lines up with Scripture or not.
The surprising truth, at least for me, is this isn’t at all what Jesus portrayed in His example of a peace-loving life. In the middle of His Sermon on the Mount,
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Note how Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are the peacekeepers,”
as if our mission in life is simply to keep the peace and uphold the status quo.
Rather, He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
By Christ’s own example, we see how sometimes making peace requires shaking things up a bit in order to get rid of the problem, which is stealing our peace in the first place.
In John 2 as Jesus went through the temple and turned over all the tables of those attempting to sell their wares in His holy place. He threw their products aside and ran them right out of the temple! This was no docile, keep-the-peace, let people do what they want “peacekeeping!” This was strong, intentional, dutiful peacemaking!
As we strive to follow the example Jesus gave us, we can lean on the solid words of wisdom James shares in our anchor text:
“Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts,
do not boast and lie against the truth.
This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Did you notice the last phrase there?
“…those who make peace.”
Not those who keep the peace, but those who make it, again reiterating what Jesus said in Matthew 5. Clearly, I am not advocating we destroy other’s property, rashly act in violence, or justify our attempt to do the equivalent of what Jesus did in the temple just because we are angry.
God’s wisdom again speaks through James,
“the anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)
I am advocating we are to call out sin when it is appropriate and biblically sound to do so. When we do, we must heed the words of James 3 and Matthew 7, making sure we are proceeding in a humble, loving, teachable, God-honoring way.
In the same wise way, with great respect, compassion, prayer, and love, we are called to confront those we love who are walking down a wrong path. The unchanging truth is that sin only ever brings brokenness, war, destruction, loss, and sadness, whereas righteous living brings true life and peace. Sometimes, in order to preserve, protect, guard, and uphold the peace of others, we must warn them of the destructivity of sin which steals, kills, and destroys peace.
Being a peacemaker isn’t always fun, nor is it comfortable. Sometimes it requires saying the hard thing or taking action when you would rather just look the other way, but passivity isn’t in the best interest of our loved ones.
Instead seek peace, pursue it, and give ourselves to that which will uphold it.
It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!