Beatitudes 43: Peace 5

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:8)

One vital element in being a true and consistent peacemaker is one that cannot be instilled by human effort. It is also something that will never happen as a result of simply reading a book on evangelism or what it takes to do this vital element or to be what this vital element is. This vital element is to be one that truly fears and loves God and does not live to please men. One that fears men will never be a true peacemaker. One that fears men will always be guided by what other men think and say rather than the Word of God. One can be an outstanding preacher in one sense, a great historian, an academic theologian and still fear men in the sense that he wants men to be pleased with him. One can gain much repute in denominations or organizations while being a pleaser of men. But one will never be a true and consistent peacemaker while one is a pleaser of men.

The heart of man is such that he loves himself rather than God. Instead of doing all out of love for God, man does all out of love for himself and the things that he considers best for his own situation. While he will do things in the name of God, the real motive behind all that he does is himself. To be a true peacemaker one must preach the Gospel which is not a Gospel that pleases men. One must preach the Law in such a way that strips the person of any hope in himself and even to show the person that he cannot hope in himself. The Law must be preached to the heart and the spiritual nature of it shown to the hearers. That is not what a pleaser of man is really willing to do on a consistent basis. But the person must not just be made aware that s/he is a sinner, but that person must come to the point of feeling the weight of sin on his or her conscience. Those whose hearts want to please men are not willing to do that unless it pleases others who are watching or are aware of what is going on.

Hear the words of Paul:

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Gal 1:6-10).

Verse 10 is important to what he is trying to say. It is true that Paul was talking about how important it is to preach the Gospel. He was saying that there was only one Gospel and a person was to be accursed if he preached a different Gospel. But he then goes on to say in this very context that if he were still trying to please men he would be not be a bond-servant of Christ. What was true of Paul has been true of every person who has lived between Paul and today and is true of all people today as well. Where you find a person that tries to please men you will find a person that is not a bond-servant of Christ no matter the external results. One thing that Paul was communicating here is that those who try to please men are not those who preach the true Gospel. If a person does not preach the true Gospel but waters it down a little to please men or to make it more palatable or acceptable to fallen man, that is a person that is not preaching the Gospel. That is a person that is obeying self instead of Christ.

When we look at Christ and His life in the world, we see Him healing people, feeding them, and even raising some from the dead. The people flocked to hear Him. However, when it came time to teach those people that flocked after Him He would not compromise. The same people that wanted to make Him king wanted to kill Him when He preached the truth to them. The same people that He gave free food to wanted to kill Him after He taught them. In fact, Jesus told them this: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:44). Receiving glory and honor from men is the same as trying to please men in this context. This fits perfectly with what Paul taught in Galatians 1:6-10. The statement of Jesus, boiled down, is saying that those who receive honor and glory from men rather than seeking the glory from God cannot believe in God as their deepest conviction. It is one thing to believe in God, but it is quite another thing to live to His glory regardless of what happens. This type of person will preach a form of the Gospel in order to appear to men to be a peacemaker and this can also be used to deceive themselves that they are peacemakers. This person will not stand firm for certain aspects of the Gospel because it is hard to hear and displeasing to men.

Paul also spoke of this in another way:

“But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:19-21).

In this case Paul wanted to send the Philippians a pastor but he did not have one person who would be genuinely concerned for the welfare of the people. Why is that? When men seek their own interests, they will not be truly seeking the interests of Christ. If men are not seeking the interests of Christ as Christ has set out, then they will not be seeking the welfare of the people with a genuine interest. This is another way of pleasing men. One that seeks his own interests will please others rather than God if it is in his own best interests (according to the fallen mind) to do so.

We must look at this with great care. Not many people would consider themselves to be pleasers of men. They prefer to think of themselves as being nice, tolerant, gracious, and even winsome. They prefer to think of themselves as being those things in order to gain a hearing for the Gospel or to gain a political position in which they would have influence. This can happen at a job, in a local church and at differing levels of a religious organization or denomination. Jesus Christ never commands anyone to please men in order to gain a hearing for the Gospel. He commands His people to love Him at all times as the supreme love in all ways. He commands His ministers to preach the Gospel even if it means losing their jobs. He commands that He have the hearts, love, fear and respect of His people at all times.

In the United States we have not seen a real revival since the time of the Civil War. Perhaps it is because we have become more concerned with pleasing men than with pleasing God. Perhaps it is because when we become more concerned with positions of influence and pleasing men rather than preaching the Gospel to them out of love for God and their souls that we have lost the offensive nature of the Gospel and of the cross. It could be that we have become so enamored with the smiles of men that we have forgotten that to love them in truth they must hear a very offensive message from us. A peacemaker is one that will offend others in order to stand and proclaim the Gospel.

This brings in some other issues that relate to the other beatitudes. A peacemaker is one that mourns for others because the peacemaker can see that the other person hates God. The peacemaker mourns out of a true concern for other people. The peacemaker who mourns is one that is willing to suffer that the other person will hear the offensive message of the cross. The peacemaker is also one that is meek. He is willing to suffer the abuse of others and return love to them. The peacemaker is one who is merciful. He does not have a false mercy which just feels sorry for people and desires to relive their pain in order to feel better himself, but this is a person that sees that sinners are truly helpless and in dire need of the mercy of God. True mercy comes in and brings the Gospel to the person even though it may bring persecution on the peacemaker. That is true mercy.

Being a peacemaker requires that man die to their self-centeredness and self-love. Being a peacemaker is not really possible for those who want influence and position. It is not possible to be a true peacemaker when a person is more concerned with being winsome and gracious than he is to please God. We might think that by being those things we are showing the love and grace of God, but that is not necessarily true. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Part of being a godly person is to be a peacemaker in truth. All who desire to be peacemakers will be persecuted. This is in line with the next beatitude which tells us that blessed people are those who are persecuted. It does not say “blessed are the tolerant and the winsome that please men at all times.” A peacemaker is one that does not pare off the rough edges of the Christian message or the Gospel in order to be accepted before men, but instead leaves them on in order to please God. That is, after all, what is truly good for men as well. A peacemaker is one that is willing to suffer so that God would be pleased and men would hear the Gospel in order that they would be saved. Death to self and the esteem of others is required.

Until men are truly humbled and broken, as opposed to a mask of humility called “tolerance” along with a veneer of niceness, we will not see revival. True peacemakers will be those who will be persecuted. True peacemakers will be those who have to stand for the Gospel and all of its rough edges. True peacemakers will be those who will not want to pare off the rough edges of the Gospel because they love the Gospel and the glory of the God they love that shines through it. True peacemakers will want to set forth the truth of God in order to please God and those that they reach even though others get so mad they insult the messenger. This is part of what a peacemaker does.

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