Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God.
Most people speak for personal reasons. Whether to be understood by others, to find sympathy, to advance our career, to put others in their place, or to get what we think we need, the majority of words that come out of our mouths, and the majority of our interactions with others, are for the sake of short-term, limited, personal goals. The Peacemakers that Christ spoke of here, however, are motivated by the glory of God.
In the seventh beatitude, we have the third spiritual trait in the journey back up. In these simple words Christ described the heart of those who would serve Him. He described an activity, to be a peacemaker requires that we try to make peace, but He also described an attitude and a value system. The peacemaker has put aside his own personal agenda and taken up the mantle of God, to go forth under God’s command to minister to others. It is absolutely required that the one who would make peace, who would bring together sides in conflict with one another, that he would not interject his own personal agenda in the discussion. Only such people would truly be worthy of the titles peacemakers and sons of God.
The fifth and sixth beatitudes prepare the way for this the seventh. To have understood the mercy of God and to have been purified and cleansed by the blood of Christ prepare us to serve as peacemakers. No one can serve Christ as a peacemaker with any degree of effectiveness who is not merciful and pure in heart. To be a peacemakers brings us into ministry that interacts with other people. In these beatitudes, many things that are clearly the teaching of Christ are not named. Witnessing for example, and evangelizing, encouraging, instructing, or making disciples. I believe that Christ was summing up all that is involved in ministry under this broad category of peacemakers. From an inward spiritual perspective it means, having put aside our own personal agenda, we accept with commitment and enthusiasm God’s program of ministry. From an outward activity perspective to be a peacemaker means to do that which reconciles people to God and to one another.
Francis of Assisi is credited with writing these memorable words in the form of a prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury pardon.
Where there is doubt faith.
Where there is despair hope.
Where there is darkness light.
Where there is sadness joy.
O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
This is surely the gist of the idea of being peacemakers. The one who speaks the most beautiful words, or even gives the wisest counsel, but does so out of a personal desire to be heard, to be understood, or to be respected, and not out of a heart purified by the blood of Christ and filled with the reality of the Savior’s love, is generally annoying, sooner or later. As Paul wrote, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). Such men, no matter how marvelously they speak, are not worthy of the title sons of God.
The need for such people who seek to console others rather than be consoled themselves in the world and in the church is overwhelming. Where are these people who are called the sons and daughters of God? In Romans 14 the Spirit directed Paul’s words to deal with the tension-filled issue of what foods and drinks are off limits to believers. He laid down a principle to govern behavior: that though food was not unclean in and of itself, if someone felt it was wrong to eat a certain food, his conscience had convicted him. In such a circumstance our eating may become the tool of the evil one to tempt him into ignoring his conscience, and God only knows where that type of thinking would end up. And it brought discord into the church as well. His summary was, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food” (Romans 14:19-20). This is what we need today. Again I ask, where are the sons and daughters of God who set aside their personal agendas for the sake of God? I see some, but we need many more.
People that let God govern their passions and surrender their rights for the sake of the gospel leave a legacy as the children of God. William Borden was a millionaire the moment he was born heir of the wealthy Borden Dairy estate. William, however, had a higher trajectory in mind than money could offer and felt called of God into foreign missions. He didn’t wait until he could go abroad before seeking to leave a legacy. While attending Yale University, 1905-09, he began student prayer meetings in small groups. By his graduation 1,000 out of Yale’s 1,300 students were attending these meetings. He also gave his spare time to seek to win homeless people to Christ, often picking them off the street and paying for their lodging and a meal. In addition, he served as president of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa. By the time he finished Yale, God had used him to change the entire campus. After university he went on to Princeton Seminary, and upon graduation he set as his life’s goal the evangelization of the Muslim population in China.
The aimed trajectory of his life was as high and noble as one could imagine. He was going places and going places for God. His first stop on his missionary career was Egypt to study Arabic in preparation for Muslim evangelization. While there he contracted spinal meningitis and within a month twenty-five year old William Whiting Borden was dead. His family, colleagues, and friends around the world grieved as world evangelization lost a great advocate. In the flyleaf of his Bible six words were written that gave some glimpse of the depth of his character and what his living for God meant to him: “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”
Was his life a waste? Not at all. He died with no regrets. His legacy continues to speak to us today. Following his death, as word of his sacrifice spread around college campuses, hundreds, perhaps thousands of young men and women surrendered to missionary service. A godly legacy can be much more influential to change the world than all that we accomplish in our lifetimes.
Are you willing to be a peacemaker for God? Are you willing to put aside your own personal agendas for the sake of others, that they may hear the gospel and grow in grace? Is the love of God that took Christ out of heaven and sent Him to the cross of sufficient reality in your life that you are willing to speak for the benefit of others and not just for yourself? The title “sons of God” is nothing to be taken lightly. One day you and I will be gone from this earth. Will there be anyone left here who in memory of our life would consider us as such?
Lord, we need Your love to stir our souls, that we might grasp how greatly You care for the common, ordinary people in this world. Lead us to become peacemakers, sharing Your grace with the lost and Your love with the saved. Amen.