Isaiah prophesied that one day the Prince of Peace would reign and rule forever. He would not just be peaceful, but He would be the source of peace! Then, on the night of Jesus’ birth, the angels sang out, “Give glory to God in heaven and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.” The promised source of peace had arrived. Through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, removed our condemnation, and restored the broken relationship between God and us. That peace is not a fuzzy feeling but a reality of our relationship. Peace with God is both a simple and complex concept, and without it, we cannot be peacemakers.
Blessed are the peacemakers,Matthew 5:9
for they will be called children of God.
Before delving into the characteristics of a peacemaker, let’s note that a peacekeeper is not the same as a peacemaker! Some definitions of those who identify with Enneagram 9 are clearly peacekeepers – avoiding conflicts, tension, and resisting all things upsetting or disturbing. The definition and characteristics of peacemakers are different.
But the wisdom from above is first pure,James 3:17-18NASB
then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable,
full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
by those who make peace.
In just two verses, James gives us six characteristics that are key attributes of peacemakers.
- Purity – We are made pure, whole, set apart by God. And at the same time peacemakers pursue purity, holiness. We pursue holiness by abiding in Jesus, developing our relationship with Him, obeying Him, depending on the Spirit to guide us.
- Peace-loving – Peacemakers promote peace by avoiding quarrelsome attitudes.
- Gentle – Peacemakers are respectful, thoughtful, considerate.
- Reasonable – Peacemakers are listeners, intuitive, willing to receive instruction.
- Full of mercy and good fruits – Peacemakers are kind, generous, patient.
- Impartial, free of hypocrisy – Peacemakers are single-minded, unwavering, and sincere in our relationship with God
We live in a society of outrage. Just this week parents yelled at health care workers publicly in a school board meeting threatening them, “We know who you are, we know where you live,” because they recommended a mask mandate for elementary students. And yet, no doubt you will see at least some of those same people in neighborhood worship services. That’s just one locale, one example. Expressions of outrage, snarky comments, unfounded criticisms are seen on all sides of issues. How do we as Christians respond in this age of outrage?
As Christ-followers we are called to be peacemakers especially in the church, among our brothers and sisters in Christ. David P. Nystrom* writes in his commentary on James –
- Where there is divisiveness, there is no wisdom;
- Wisdom is peaceable;
- Therefore, the peacemakers are the ones who possess wisdom; and
- The ones who create tumult and discord do not possess wisdom, however much they protest to the opposite.
Peacemakers harvest a crop of righteousness! Justice, righteousness, and peace are communicable attributes of God! We are called to imitate Him in being a peacemaker, in reconciling the world to Him.
Peacemakers do not avoid conflict, but instead lean on God for wisdom in pursuing reconciliation. Scripture tells us to ask God for wisdom, so we pray. And maybe that is sufficient. Some situations should be overlooked because we know that love covers a multitude of sins. Not everything is a matter for confrontation. Not everything is a matter of gospel importance.
If in prayer and Godly counsel, you determine confrontation is necessary, do so with humility. Remember we have logs in our own eyes even when we are trying to convince a brother or sister of the speck in their eyes. Being humble and kind is more important than being right. Peacemakers are gentle and considerate – realizing that they too could be wrong in matters that are not stated overtly in scripture.
I’m reminded of the gospel stories – how Jesus called sinners to Himself. Never did He condemn them. The only ones He condemned were the self-righteous Pharisees. That picture sticks with me. I’m a grateful recipient of His grace.
In the Beatittude, Jesus said peacemakers will be sons of God. Our God is a God of peace who sanctifies us completely. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, who reconciles all things to Himself, making peace by the blood of His cross. The Kingdom of God is peace (and righteousness and joy) in the Holy Spirit! The Spirit produces the fruit of peace in our lives as we yield to HIm. Peacemakers reflect the triune God.
Finally, brothers and sisters, keep rejoicing and repair whatever is broken. Encourage each other, think as one, and live at peace; and God, the Author of love and peace, will remain with you.2 Corinthians 13:11 VOICE
He hath spoken, Be still, the Rebuker of seas;F.W.Ware
The command was for me, and my heart is at ease;
He hath hushed into silence the waves and the winds,
By applying His blood, and removing my sins.
He’s the Prince of peacemakers, all glory to God,
To redeem me, and cleanse me, He shed his own blood;
My adoption is sealed, I’m a child of the King,
And for ever and ever of Jesus I’ll sing.
*Nystrom, D. P. (1997). James. United States: Zondervan.
This post is inspired by reading Dodson, J. K. (2020). Our good crisis: Overcoming moral chaos with the Beatitudes. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, an imprint of InterVarsity Press.
Check out previous posts based on this study of the Beatitudes: