Summary: Party seven focuses on the character traits of a peacemaker and the persecuted.
Discipleship Part 7: Character Traits
This morning we will conclude this portion of the series dealing with the character traits of a disciple based on the beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. To date we have discussed the following traits: being obedience; being poor in spirit; being mournful; being gentle and/or meek; hungering and thirsting for righteousness; being merciful and pure in heart. This morning we will begin with verse nine of Matthew chapter five with the peacemakers.
I. The Peacemakers
Jesus states in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” As many of you know, I am a fan of movies. I watch a lot of them and I especially enjoy a good action movie. When I was a child, my father liked westerns and I learned to enjoy those. In almost every western there was a man they called the sheriff, the keeper of the peace. This was the person who had to be good with a gun (at least in the movies) or he would not finish the movie. This peace maker was not what Jesus was referring to. One of my favorite movie series is “Back to the Future.” In the third movie, Doc Brown was sent to the past by accident. He ended up in the old west and Marty had to go back and save him. Well the villain (Mad Dog Tannen) in the movie challenged Marty to a gun fight. One of the gun makers offered Marty a pistol called the Colt Peacemaker to use in the gun fight. He told Marty that he wanted everyone to know that it was a Colt Peacemaker that got the job done with Mad Dog Tannen. This Colt Peacemaker pistol while effective in helping to keep the peace was not what Jesus was referring to. Jesus was referring to you and me once we develop this character trait. The individual Jesus is talking about is someone who is not just “peaceable” themselves, but are active bringers and keepers of the peace.
This character traits conflicts with the world’s standard because we are taught to seek our own peace without too much concern for the chaos happening in the world. We are taught to be inner focused while Jesus states that those who are actively outward focused on bringing peace to others will be known as the sons (and daughters) of God because they are imitating their Father. They are doing just as He does. Those who actively promote peace reflect the character of their heavenly Father and are so called “sons of God.”
Paul states the following in Romans 12:18-21: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Being at peace with everyone, especially our enemies, is a difficult thing to do, but a must for the sons/daughters of God. The world teaches us that we should withdraw from our enemies and do to them as they do unto us or before they have an opportunity to do anything to us. We are taught to ensure that we are always protected especially from our enemies and to do that we must stay away from them. It is very easy to be at peace with someone you never talk to or go around. But we are asked to be at peace with all men and to walk before all with a spirit of being a peacemaker. This does not mean that we continue to have ourselves opened to be abused; but it does mean that we are not the ones seeking revenge. We walk uprightly before God and if there is any revenge to be gotten, He is the one who will do it.
When I was a young man this was a hard lesson for me to learn. I walked under the direction of justice – as I shared with you last week when I discussed being merciful. I would get even with those who hurt me and I always went through great lengths to ensure that my side was heard. It did not matter who I ticked off in the process, I could not let an issue be settled unless I had my say. It took me years to learn that the best way to overcome evil is not with more extensive evil (you hit me, I hit you back twice!) The way to truly overcome evil is with good and that is a very difficult thing to do. Paul reminds us that when we are nice to our enemies our niceness is like pouring heaps of burning coals on top of their heads. They will not understand it and that in and of it self will eat at them because of what they did to us. Conversely when we respond to them in the same manner in which they treated us, then it justifies their action and they feel good about what they have done and what they are planning to do. Jesus said that the peacemakers are blessed and they will be called the sons (or daughters) of God. When God looks at you and me does He see sons and daughters of His based on our willingness to be peacemakers? Let’s move on to the persecuted.