From time to time we are all called on to be peacemakers. You may be asked to settle a dispute between others or you may be involved in a broken relationship with someone and have to be a peacemaker in your own situation.
Ken Sande’s book The Peacemaker is a wonderful tool for those who want to take the command of Jesus serious when it comes to reconciling relationships. You will find his principles for peacemaking here, applied to real situations where they have been applied.
Sande says that the first thing that is necessary is a desire to Glorify God. We must determine if our number one goal and desire in the conflict is to glorify God, and it has to mean more to us than being right, being vindicated, being apologized to, or taking revenge. So often it seems that the latter are the goal in a conflict between Christians. No wonder some say it is hard to tell us apart from the world!
1 Cor. 10:21 tells us that we are to glorify God all things, even those common things like eating and drinking! If Paul thought to mention such base actions like the intake of food and beverage as actions that must glorify God then it stands to reason that our other actions must carry a heavier weight in His eyes.
In conflict it is easy to be carried away by the emotions and desires that are fed by the thoughts and beliefs that originate in our hearts. Especially when we are feeling hurt and betrayed. It is so important that we keep our thoughts focused on how we can respond righteously in spite of how we feel!
This is most difficult then we have been betrayed, attacked, misunderstood or attacked. There have been times I have been falsely accused of something by a person within the church. The hardest part for me is to hold the line of righteousness, and I confess that I have not always done that very well. The point I wish to make is that my failure to respond righteously was not due to inadequacy in the Holy Spirit and His power in my life, because He has enabled me to glorify God even in the midst of wrongful and hurtful accusations.
I must also examine my own heart to determine if the accusations have any merit.
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5
The most difficult aspect of Peacemaking is in examining your own heart, and asking God to do the same. To be willingly vulnerable before God and ask Him to examine your heart is a brave and terrifying prospect! However it is necessary when you are a part of a conflict.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB)
Before you can point to the faults of the person you are in conflict with, you have to clean out the logs in your own eye/heart. What sin have you brought into the situation? What have you said or done that has contributed to the issue at hand?
In conflict I am more likely to focus on my “opponent” and their wrongs and sins than I am willing to look at my own heart. Sadly, for many people this becomes a way of life and over time they come to believe the lies of their heart. They become blinded and unable to see things as they really are.
Their personal righteousness becomes an idol to be worshiped and the mere thought or suggestion that they could have any culpability in the conflict brings rage and disbelief. The closest this person will come to any admission of guilt or logs in their own eye is to say things like, “Everyone sins, everyone is guilty” without admitting personal failure and sin. When a person gets to this point their sight is distorted and they may be blinded to the truth and reality.
None of us want to find ourselves described in the above paragraph! We run from idolatry and self-deception as women of God, or we ought to! Each of us is completely responsible before our Lord to open the eyes of our hearts through the truth of the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We are to willingly lay our hearts bare before Him and rejoice as He brings His cleansing through our thoughts, beliefs, and desires. He is so faithful to make clear to us our own sin that we might confess and repent of it as an act of loving obedience to Him.
In examining ourselves for logs in our own eye we may experience the pain of realizing the depths of our own sinfulness in the situation. We tend to like to minimize this because it is easier for us to point at the sticks and specks in the eyes of the other person. We are uncomfortable with our weakness and our pride takes a pounding as we understand that we too still need the cross of Jesus Christ each day, every moment…Don’t you like to think at times that you have it all together outside of the cross and the grace of God? That is our ever-present downfall.
In the end, will it matter what I have been accused of? Not really, this world is a temporary place and I will go on to meet Jesus and all this will be forgotten. What will live on is whether or not I glorified God on earth and the impact my life made on others for the Kingdom of God. Was I faithful to the Word? Was I a good and faithful servant of the Lord? Were others drawn to Him by the life I lived or were they repelled by my example?
Such gravity…Help us Lord to be all you have created us to be….