Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.”
James 3:18, “And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”
During this Christmas season, God has freshly impressed on my heart His admonition to us to be people who are peacemakers. One of the true signs of a child of God is their love of peace, and their efforts to live peaceably with others.
Truthfully, most of us find this very difficult to do, especially in our marriages. Have you ever noticed that friction, strife, disagreement, a difference of opinion, and arguing seem to come to us as easily as breathing? I certainly have. It is amazing to me how easy it is to be ruffled, rankled, agitated, and disagreeable. Each of us has opinions, each of us has feelings, some are not as important to us while others we care about and feel very deeply. All of us have preferences, all of us have likes and dislikes, all of us, by our very nature want our way as our first inclination. Being a peacemaker is something that we will need to intentionally decide to become, something we decide is very important to us as an act of obedience to God.
Through the last 44 years of my life, God has put me in some very, very difficult situations, difficult job circumstances, difficult people challenges, difficult family situations and used them all to help me become a better peacemaker. God has taught me over the 40 years of my marriage to be a man who strives for peace in my relationship with Kathy. Most of you reading this are considerably younger than we are. I can tell you that Kathy and I have faced almost every challenge you can imagine, or that you may go through.
I have often observed how can the world live in peace when most married couples cannot live in peace with each other under the same roof? How can the world get along when most families cannot get along? I get up every day with a mindset and intentional purpose to pursue peace, to live in peace with my wife, and to strive for peace with her and with others in my life. Is it always easy? Of course not. But it is a much more God-honoring way to live, and a much healthier way to live. We are to let God’s peace rule in our hearts, and let that peace emanate from us into our relationships with others.
Living at peace with my wife, and with others, almost always involves a kind of compromise in something or of something. It could be as simple as her asking me to wash her clothes in warm water when I always use cold water for mine. Indeed I have argued about that before! It will almost always involve me giving something or giving up something. It will often mean going the extra mile to accommodate someone else wishes.
I have given up my rights to officiate one of my own children’s weddings to pursue peace with the relatives of the future spouse. I have served co-workers who belittled me, made fun of my faith, spoke harshly to me, wronged me and served them to the utmost of my ability. I did not return their evil for evil. I worked to be a peace with them. I delayed my wedding for 2 years, to strive to bring peace with my future wife’s parents. My neighbor asked me to point my rain spout in a different direction, and that day I went and bought a new flexible tube to direct it in the way he asked of me.
Most know me as a man of strong beliefs, strong convictions, and strong opinions. However, for 31 years as I pastored churches and worked with other leaders, I always worked very hard to live in peace with them, to be known for being cooperative. I did my best to accommodate their views, their perspectives, even some of their convictions while muting my own. I was not afraid to share my view, but I sought to live in peace with them. This was of course not always easy to do.
In marriage, I have often bent my desire or my will or my preference to accommodate my wife’s desire, or her preference, or her wishes. Kathy has done the same for me. There were many times I chose to make peace with her even though I felt wronged, or sinned against. I felt God would want me to choose peace with her, and let Him work on her heart rather than me argue with her over and over trying to get my point across.
God has used our sowing seeds of peace over the years to bring about a wonderful harvest of greater harmony, peace, and a deeper feeling of love and closeness in our marital relationship. Truthfully, there have been only a few times in the last 44 years that it was simply not possible to be at peace with someone, or a group of someones. Each of those times the only way to peace would have meant I needed to agree to something dishonest, or truly evil and wicked. I walked right up to that point, I made every effort possible, as far as it was up to me. Then and only then, did I walk away. Before God, I am at peace with those decisions. I cannot force others to be at peace with me. Even Jesus could not be at peace with the Pharisees.
Marriage in the eyes of God is a very holy, sacred thing. It is the union of two people who become one flesh, one body in the eyes and perspective of God. I would rather have my right arm severed than see my holy union with Kathy severed and disintegrate, or see a wedge come between us that causes a deep fracture or irreconcilable difference. Never forget that when a marriage rips apart, it tears both husband and wife. They are one body for God made them so, they will both suffer deeply for tearing apart their very own body.
I am determined to be a peacemaker in my relationship with my wife. I am determined to be the first to apologize, to acknowledge my fault, or my wrong in a matter, even if I am convinced it was primarily her fault. I want peace! I want to live in peace. I want to honor God and be a peacemaker with her.
My secret conviction: I believe God will especially bless me, and us for my fervent desire and sacrifice to make peace, to live in peace with her. Never forget it was Jesus’ sacrifice that brought us peace with God! It has almost always involved the sacrifice of myself in some way, big or small, to live at peace with my wife. For me, the cost has been worth it. Blessed are the peacemakers!
Please take a moment and consider these questions.
What areas right now does God want you to pursue peace with your spouse in, that have been sources of strife or tension?
What ways right now does God want you to be a peacemaker with your mate? What things does God want you to sacrifice and give up?
As we approach Christmas and the celebration of the Prince of Peace, in what ways can you pursue greater peace?
Remember, peace is not achieved most times because we agree on everything. Most times it is achieved by giving up one’s rights for the sake of another.
I sincerely wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. May God’s peace fill your heart this season, and may God freshly remind us all of the great sacrifices His Son Jesus Christ made that we might have peace with God.