Last Sunday, in order to better understand Jesus' words "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God," we looked at Paul's letter to his friend Philemon. (you can hear Ed's entire message HERE). Thanks to Kurt Willems for his excellent podcast on this topic, which gave me some great ideas and insight (hear Kurt's podcast "Paul the Peacemaker" HERE).
Philemon is a perfect example of how to be a proactive peacemaker rather than a reactive peacekeeper. And in studying this letter (and other related Scripture), we uncovered seven specific lessons about peacemaking, which I have been asked to share on this blog.
Seven simple lessons from Philemon
Earn the right to speak peace.
You don't get to just speak into someone's life by virtue of your position. Trust is earned. Be a co-laborer. Be a brother in arms. Get in the trenches. Then you can speak.
Defer to the authority of Jesus.
Jesus isn't the only consideration, but regardless of whether the other party respects Jesus' authority, always make it clear that you do. You're responsible to a higher law.
Stand against injustice.
When something is just plain wrong, don't be afraid to call it like you see it - even if that might put you in jeopardy. Don't be foolhardy, but always stand for justice.
Level the playing field.
When it comes to spiritual matters, we are all equal. We are all brothers and sisters, because we are all children of God. Every one of us was made in his image. God does not play favorites.
Make room for self-discovery.
It is always better if someone figures out the right thing to do on their own. You can point them in the right direction, but change of heart is a personal matter. You can only lead them to the water. You cannot force them to drink it.
Be willing to take a hit.
Put your money where your mouth is. If you are asking others to bend, be willing to bend yourself. A peacemaker is a participant - be more of a coach than an armchair quarterback.
Know when to quit.
When you've done all you can and there's still no peace, wash your hands of it, and move on. You cannot make peace by sheer force of will. Speak what you know is true, do what you know is right, and pray that God will move.
That's what it means to be a peacemaker. And blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Series Title: BLESSED
Message Title: peacemakers: part one
Main Passages: Matthew 5:9, Romans 12:18, Philemon
Some questions for reflection or group study (or please comment on them, below):
- When have you had to be a peacemaker?
- Have you ever been a peacekeeper instead? What was different?
- Which of the seven lessons are hardest for you? Easiest?
- How could you change to be more of a person of peace?