Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to walk our readers through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 in order to help them understand what it teaches and how to apply it to our lives. This is our first such series here at Servants of Grace through an extended biblical passage and is part of our larger commitment to help Christians learn to read, interpret, reflect, and apply the Bible to their own lives.
- Dave opened the series by looking at Matthew 5:1-3.
- In the second post in this series, Dave explored Matthew 5:4.
- In the third post in this series, Zach looked at Matthew 5:5.
- In the fourth post in this series, Jason looked at Matthew 5:6.
- In the fifth post in this series, Dave looked at Matthew 5:7.
- Dave looked at Matthew 5:8.
- Today Dave looks at Matthew 5:9.
We readily see how the third beatitude leads to the seventh. The meek become peacemakers for two reasons. First, the meek know that they are without merit. The meek stop promoting themselves, stop grasping for privileges, and recognition. When they stop demanding, peace tends to emerge, for most strife stems from self-assertion.
Second, warring tribes trust the meek to make peace between them. The meek aren’t seeking an advantage. They aren’t asking, “Whose favor can I gain?” They are impartial, honest brokers. People trust the meek because they are not angling for future favors.
True disciples have peace with God. Anyone who shares the gospel of Christ is a peacemaker. This peace is not the obliviousness that lets someone go to Europe on a one-way ticket with $700 in his pocket. This peace is the logical result of a healthy relationship with the Lord through faith in Jesus, God’s Son.
Of course, peace with God will not lead to temporal peace. Peacemaking is a process that requires willing people. Thus, Paul says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).
Peace is more than absence of conflict. It is maturity and well-being, as God defines them. We may need constructive conflict to achieve real peace. Jesus certainly made peace through conflict. He said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49).
Peacemaking also has internal, subjective aspects. Insecurities and worries destroy peace. Discontentment disrupts peace. Envy disrupts peace. When we try to read other people’s thoughts, it disrupts peace. The pastor of a healthy, small-town church recently learned that lesson afresh. The church and the pastor loved and admired each other, but there was some resistance when he lengthened morning worship by fifteen minutes. No one got upset, he said, but then he began the story of one man:
Church used to end at 10:30; now it goes to 10:45. One man sits near the back. Each week, he stands up at precisely 10:30, straightens his jacket and pants, and walks out. He never said anything, but I could feel his displeasure over the longer services. Indeed, sometimes I had to labor to stifle my anger at the weekly display. Then one week, I changed the order of worship and put the sermon first. The man still left at 10:30, but later that day his wife called.
“Pastor,” she said, “you can’t imagine how happy my husband was today. You see, he has to report to work at 10:45 on Sundays. He waits until the last possible minute each week, but it grieves him that he can never stay until the end of your message. Today he heard your whole sermon and he is so pleased. I just had to tell you.”
Guessing other people’s motives is a prime way to subvert our peace, especially since, by some perverse impulse, we tend to make the most negative, self-damaging guesses. Instead, let us remember that if we have peace with God, we can free ourselves of worry about lesser things.
As we have seen, the Beatitudes are not a list of isolated virtues, not a list comparable to classic virtue lists. Any review of the Beatitudes is daunting, for it reveals our inability to attain the qualities that Jesus outlines. Yet, if we take that burden to Christ, admitting our weakness, the blessing has already begun. After all, the first beatitude says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” We are blessed when we take our poverty to Jesus. The Beatitudes enumerate seven facets of a character grounded in the desire to share Jesus’ righteousness. Our desires have consequences. The desire for a better shoe led to the creation of Nike, Inc. A desire for evangelism led to the creation of written languages, Bible translations, and teaching illiterate people to read. The desire for righteousness leads us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. That hunger leads us to the gospel, and the gospel leads us to the godly character that Jesus both has and inspires.