In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lists the blessings that await those who live their lives in a certain way. Jesus addresses the peacemakers in particular by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
A “peacemaker” is someone who reconciles people with God and with one another. Peacemaking, as such, requires taking the initiative to get involved in conflicts with the intention of building bridges between the parties at odds.
What Does the Bible Say about Peace and Peacemakers?
1. Achieving peace requires taking action to promote harmony. Scripture teaches us that, to bring about peace, we must engage in actions that foster future harmony. The ultimate example of taking action to cultivate future harmony is God’s choice to reconcile the human race to Himself by sending down His only Son to serve as the final sacrifice for our sins (Colossians 1:20; John 3:16).
Likewise, the Greek word translated as “peacemaker” in Matthew 5:9 is a word used to describe someone who actively proclaims God’s Word to reconcile the listener with the Lord. In both examples, we see that peacemaking entails taking some action to unite parties that had once been at odds.
As believers, the Bible instructs us to “make every effort to live in peace” (Hebrews 12:14). Peacemakers must live in peace themselves by doing things such as: Honoring others above themselves, sharing with those in need, rejoicing with those who rejoice, mourning with those who mourn, and consistently turning away from evil and doing good (Romans 12:10,13,15; 1 Peter 3:11).
2. In working towards peace, peacemakers reconcile people with God and with each other. In the gospel, Christ declares that all of Scripture can be summarized by two commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40).
It should come as no surprise, then, that a peacemaker is someone who emulates Jesus — called the Prince of Peace — by working to reconcile people with God and with each other (Isaiah 9:6).
3. Peacemakers build bridges between unbelievers and God through the ministry of reconciliation. The human race was separated from God because of our sinful nature until Jesus atoned for our sins and restored our relationship with God through His sacrifice on the Cross (Colossians 1:21-22).
The Apostle Paul tells us that when God reconciled Himself to us through Christ, God called us to be “Christ’s ambassadors” by giving us the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). The ministry of reconciliation entails spreading the gospel message that all people can have a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Peacemakers live this call to be Christ’s ambassadors by urging others to restore themselves to God’s favor through repentance of their sins and through acceptance of Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
This attempt to reconcile an unbeliever with God through Christ echoes Jesus’ assertion that all should repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 4:17), and His assertion that no one can go to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
4. Peacemakers build bridges between people in discord with each other. Aside from promoting reconciliation with God, peacemakers work to foster reconciliation between people. In particular, Scripture tells us to encourage others to live in harmony.
Peacemakers encourage peaceful living among others by doing such things as: Reasoning frankly with neighbors, rebuking those who persist in sin, warning those who are idle and disruptive, and discouraging people from being vindictive with one another (Leviticus 19:17; 1 Timothy 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).
When trying to foster a peaceful attitude among people in this way, it’s wise to remember the old adage that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. If you expect quarreling parties to listen to you when you intercede with harsh words, you’ll only stir up more anger.
Instead, if you calmly mediate conflict with a “soft answer” rooted in Scripture, you’re more likely to successfully quell the contention between the people at issue (Proverbs 15:1; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
5. Attempts at peacemaking often fail. The Bible affirms that a person is responsible for his efforts to promote peace only “as far as it depends on [that person]” (Romans 12:18). These sage words reflect the reality that there are people who will insist on living in strife no matter the effort a peacemaker makes to foster agreement.
In cases where the peacemaker fails to bring about a reconciliation between people (including himself and someone else), the peacemaker can take solace in the fact that he obeyed the Bible’s command to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11). In addition, it’s worth noting that expecting others to accept your advice leaves no room for hypocrisy.
This means that before you can foster peace between others, you’re to set an example by reconciling with those with whom you yourself have discord (Matthew 5:23-24).
In a similar vein, there are people who reject Christ despite the peacemaker’s dedicated efforts to reconcile a “lost sheep” with God. In this situation, a peacemaker shouldn’t force her beliefs on others or preach to people who show an obvious disrespect for the Word.
Jesus Himself tells us that doing so risks profaning the gospel (Matthew 7:6). Rather, a peacemaker should share the Good News respectfully with those willing to listen to it respectfully (1 Peter 3:15).
What Peacemaking Does and Doesn’t Look Like in Our Daily Lives
In our daily lives, we can start serving as peacemakers in Jesus’ name by studying the Word to fortify our understanding of biblical justice so that we’re ready to serve as peacemakers when the occasion arises.
What peacemaking does not consist of is ignoring a problem and crossing our fingers that it will go away, denying that a problem exists, to begin with, or appeasing a bully. Such passive tactics may delay the inevitable for a time, but they also cause unresolved issues to grow and resentment to take root.
Instead, peacemaking requires taking some action to promote goodwill, and this means speaking up in love. We can do this by being the first to extend an olive branch to someone with whom we’re clashing. We can also do this by standing up for someone whom we see being taken advantage of in our family, workplace, or community.
Further, we can establish a legacy of peacemaking by teaching our children to resolve disagreements through consideration and compromise instead of through screaming and strong-arming.
In addition, we can serve as peacemakers by helping bring others to God. We can do this in such ways by: Sharing our testimony on how the gospel has transformed our lives for the better, encouraging others to pray and study Scripture for themselves, and practicing what we preach by living a life based on Christian principles.
What Does This Mean?
Ultimately, no matter the results of a peacemaker’s efforts, Jesus promises that the peacemaker will be blessed by specifically being called a child of God (Matthew 5:9). The Greek word translated as “blessed” in this context refers to someone made happy by receiving God’s favor.
In other words, peacemakers will be blessed for their work by being explicitly identified in Heaven as children of “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33).
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Dolores Smyth writes about her life’s passions — faith and family. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. You can read more of her work on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth.