Reading 6 – Friday, December 8, 2006

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9.
By Héctor O. Paz, U.S.A.

According to the dictionary, peacemakers are those who make, or re-establish, peace. Throughout history, many people have dedicated their lives to re-establishing peace among men. Unfortunately, in spite of a great many efforts to accomplish this goal, with awards for outstanding performances acknowledged worldwide, none of these achievements have produced lasting results.

Why? Although we may look everywhere for answers, the only trustworthy source of answers is the Holy Scriptures. Long ago, the Almighty God said to His servant Daniel, “they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another.” Daniel 2:43. In other words, their peace will not last long. The prophet Jeremiah said the same thing: “Everyone dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:13, 14.

“Men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension. ‘Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree’; and life’s desert ‘shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.’ Isaiah 55:13; 35:1.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 302.

Centuries ago, the night before His death, Jesus Christ Himself spoke to His disciples. “His last legacy to them was a legacy of peace.” –Ibid., 672. “Peace I leave with you,” He told them. “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27.
Christ’s disciples would now be peacemakers, ambassadors of peace for God.

The servant of the Lord in her book Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing (p. 28) writes, “Christ’s followers are sent to the world with the message of peace. Whoever, by the quiet, unconscious influence of a holy life, shall reveal the love of Christ; whoever, by word or deed, shall lead another to renounce sin and yield his heart to God, is a peacemaker.”

Dear brother and sister, are you aware you have been called to be peacemakers?
The psalmist says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165. Let nothing or nobody disturb your work! Do not give up! Be a true ambassador of Christ, and manifest the peace that Christ has put into your heart!

Jesus Christ is “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and “the Lord of peace” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). The heavenly angels sang their lovely song about “peace on earth” when Christ was born as a man, when God the Father willed peace for this fallen race.

Christ was commissioned to reconcile man with God. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. The apostle Paul himself concludes, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, Be ye reconciled to God.” Verse 20.

Today, as in the time of the apostles, we have to accept the responsibility that has been given us; we are to proclaim “the acceptable year of the Lord.” Isaiah 61:2.
Before the imminent encounter with his brother Esau, when Jacob was on the way back to Canaan, “He therefore dispatched messengers with a conciliatory greeting to his brother…. Jacob told the servants they were sent to ‘my lord Esau’; when brought before him, they were to refer to their master as ‘thy servant Jacob.’ …

“He sent from his vast flocks generous presents to Esau, with a friendly message.

[Jacob] did all in his power to atone for the wrong to his brother and to avert the threatened danger, and then in humiliation and repentance he pleaded for divine protection.…

“[Jacob] had decided to spend the night in prayer, and he desired to be alone with God. God could soften the heart of Esau. In Him was the patriarch’s only hope.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 196.

After a long night of wrestling with Someone much more powerful than he, “Jacob had received the blessing for which his soul had longed.” –Ibid., p. 198. “Through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender, this sinful, erring mortal prevailed with the Majesty of heaven.” –Ibid., p. 197.

When finally the moment came to meet his brother, whom Jacob feared, Jacob “was pale and disabled from his recent conflict, and he walked slowly and painfully, halting at every step; but his countenance was lighted up with joy and peace.

“At sight of that crippled sufferer, ‘Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.’ As they looked upon the scene, even the hearts of Esau’s rude soldiers were touched.” –Ibid.

Yes, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” is before us. It is now that we need to reconcile ourselves with our neighbours and with God, “for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1 John 4: 20. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew 5:23, 24. We should “follow peace with all men.” Hebrews 12:14. “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.” Zephaniah 1:14.

Now is the time to make peace with your brother. Now is the time to proclaim the message of reconciliation. Do not miss the opportunity! Do not allow pride to lead your soul astray. Like Jacob, we have to wrestle with ourselves first. If by faith, with genuinely contrite and repentant hearts, we cling to our beloved Saviour Jesus Christ, we shall also overcome our pride and vanity.

Sometimes differences among brethren, in the family, and with friends are caused by misunderstanding a word or action. Our lack of understanding and mercy creates before us an insurmountable mountain that so separates us from our loved ones that reconciliation seems impossible. When we invite suspicion, mistrust, jealousy, and pride into our hearts, we place ourselves on dangerous ground, on the enemy’s territory, and under the ruling power of evil. The apostle James says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” James 4:1. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15.

Grievances played a part in the inability of nine of Christ’s disciples to free a lunatic from the demon that possessed him. Matthew 17:20. “The words of Christ pointing to His death had brought sadness and doubt. And the selection of the three disciples to accompany Jesus to the mountain had excited the jealousy of the nine. Instead of strengthening their faith by prayer and meditation on the words of Christ, they had been dwelling on their discouragements and personal grievances. In this state of darkness they had undertaken the conflict with Satan.

“In order to succeed in such a conflict they must come to the work in a different spirit. Their faith must be strengthened by fervent prayer and fasting, and humiliation of heart. They must be emptied of self, and be filled with the Spirit and power of God. Earnest, persevering supplication to God in faith – faith that leads to entire dependence upon God, and unreserved consecration to His work – can alone avail to bring men the Holy Spirit’s aid in the battle against principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and wicked spirits in high places.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 431.

Maybe your neighbor did not mean to offend you when he said or did something that made you feel bad. Perhaps he just wanted to help with something that interested or worried him, and he did not know how to express himself or how to act – and his intention was misunderstood. Ask the Lord for tact and wisdom to solve such situations. Maybe the Lord allows them to test us. Let’s humble ourselves before the all-knowing God and ask for help. Then, trusting in His infinite love and mercy, let us make peace with our neighbors. Remember, “a soft answer turneth away wrath.” Proverbs 15:1. Maybe, like those nine disciples, we also need to increase our faith, to pray and fast more often so as to be overcomers. The father of the lunatic mentioned above asked Christ, “Help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24), and it was his faith that defeated the demon.

“‘Blessed are the peace-makers.’ … There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable. Envy will not be in his heart; evil surmisings will find no room there; hatred cannot exist. The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven and will diffuse its blessed influence on all around. The spirit of peace will rest like dew upon hearts weary and troubled with worldly strife.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 27.

People of different cultures, education, and customs surround us. In our relationships with them, our only sure guide is God’s Holy Spirit. We are as bound to err as they are. If we have offended someone, our duty is to acknowledge our mistake and correct it. “Those who have not humbled their souls before God in acknowledging their guilt, have not yet fulfilled the first condition of acceptance. If we have not experienced that repentance which is not to be repented of, and have not with true humiliation of soul and brokenness of spirit confessed our sins, abhorring our iniquity, we have never truly sought for the forgiveness of sin; and if we have never sought, we have never found the peace of God.” –Steps to Christ, p. 37.

We must be honest when confessing our faults before men and God. “The spirit of self-justification originated in the father of lies, and has been exhibited by all the sons and daughters of Adam. Confessions of this order are not inspired by the divine Spirit and will not be acceptable to God. True repentance will lead a man to bear his guilt himself and acknowledge it without deception or hypocrisy….

“The examples in God’s word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin, or attempt at self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself; he paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to lessen his guilt. He says: ‘Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.’ Acts 26:10, 11. He does not hesitate to declare that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.’ 1 Timothy 1:15.” –Ibid., p. 41.

In the Holy Scriptures are other examples of peacemakers: When the herdsmen of Abraham and his nephew, Lot, for example, argued about grazing land, “Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” Genesis 13:8. So peace prevailed.

In Beersheba, Isaac nobly accepted peace overtures from Abimelech. Genesis 26:29.
Mordecai the Jew, another peacemaker, “was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.” Esther 10:3.

“I am for peace,” David declared, “but when I speak, they are for war.” Psalm 120:7.
After Joseph’s life was threatened, he was deprived of his freedom and the loving care of his father’s home, then sold as a slave and taken to a strange land. There he had to adapt to a different kind of life. Nevertheless, when he again met his brothers, who had done him so much harm, he forgave them like a true peacemaker would.

All the experiences Joseph had gone through when he lived in Egypt had strengthened his integrity. He remembered his parents’ advice and determined to remain faithful to the principles he had been taught as a child. In jail, he was like an angel to those around him. Joseph found grace before the Egyptian monarch, becoming second in command of the country. With unshakable faith, Joseph chose not to take revenge against his brothers, but did all that was possible to unite his beloved family. He succeeded in his role as peacemaker.

“Christ is ‘The Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6), and it is His mission to restore to earth and heaven the peace that sin has broken. ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Romans 5:1. Whoever consents to renounce sin and open his heart to the love of Christ, becomes a partaker of this heavenly peace.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 27.

“‘Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.’ The spirit of peace is evidence of their connection with heaven. The sweet savor of Christ surrounds them. The fragrance of the life, the loveliness of the character, reveal to the world the fact that they are children of God. Men take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus.” –Ibid., p. 28.

Our heavenly Father is the author of peace, as the Holy Scriptures reveal: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 15:33. “He maketh peace in thy borders.” Psalm 147:14. “Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” 1 John 4:7. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14. He Himself says: “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:5.

“It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is all alive, we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart. We shall be deaf to reproach and blind to scorn and insult….

“Happiness drawn from earthly sources is as changeable as varying circumstances can make it; but the peace of Christ is a constant and abiding peace. It does not depend upon any circumstances in life, on the amount of worldly goods or the number of earthly friends. Christ is the fountain of living water, and happiness drawn from Him can never fail….

“Far better would it be for us to suffer under false accusation than to inflict upon ourselves the torture of retaliation upon our enemies.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 16.

Dear brother and sister, another year has passed. Have we reconciled ourselves with our neighbors? Have we reconciled with God? Unless we do the former, we cannot do the latter. Have we been faithful to the Lord? Have we experienced God’s mercy in our lives? Is there so much peace in our hearts that we can share it with others? Have we taken the message of reconciliation to the world? We are God’s messengers of peace to this world full of violence and wickedness. Have we our credentials in our hands so that the world can acknowledge us immediately?

“Trials patiently borne, blessings gratefully received, temptations manfully resisted, meekness, kindness, mercy, and love habitually revealed, are the lights that shine forth in the character in contrast with the darkness of the selfish heart, into which the light of life has never shone.” –Ibid., p. 44.

“It is thus that God’s purpose in calling His people, from Abraham on the plains of Mesopotamia to us in this age, is to reach its fulfillment.” –Ibid., p. 43.

“The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.” Micah 5:7.

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:6. “Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; when it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place. Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.” Isaiah 32:15-20.

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11.