I used to read the Bible and silently, but not-so-humbly, pat myself on the back whenever I read the word “peacemaker.” “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). Good job, Sarah. You are a true peacemaker.
Added to that, everyone keeps talking about their enneagram and I finally took the test and guess what I got? Nine – the peacemaker!
I’ve always had a peaceable personality and I can’t think of any instances where I’ve raised my voice at someone. Therefore, I assumed I was a peacemaker.
But I was wrong.
Being a peacekeeper and a peacemaker is not the same. One runs from conflict. The other runs TOWARD it to create peace. Peacemakers actively pursue peace. Peacekeepers, well, keep it by not doing anything controversial.
A peacemaker, from a Biblical perspective, is one who is actively trying to reconcile people to God and to one another. Again, there is that word actively. It’s about helping people reconcile who have broken relations among themselves, but more importantly, with God.
So, after admitting I’m more of a conflict-avoider than an actual peacemaker, I set off to find out how to become one.
5 Characteristics of a Peacemaker
1.) Peace rules in their own heart.
Peacemakers cannot create peace among others if they do not first start with peace in their own hearts. How are we to calm wars and tempers or reconcile with another if we have battles raging in our own hearts?
That’s not to say we won’t hit seasons where we have to focus on our own internal battles but if we desire to create peace among others we must find it in Christ alone first.
But how do we grab ahold of this peace? We surrender to Jesus and let His peace fill us.
Philippians 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Practically – just tell God that you are surrendering a stressful situation or disagreement to Him and ask Him to fill you with His peace instead of your worry. That simple? Sometimes it might be, other times it might not. But I can tell you it’s a huge start in the right direction.
After that meditate on these truths to cultivate peace in your life:
- The world’s peace is temporary. God’s peace is eternal
- The world’s peace is based on circumstances. God’s peace is already given to us.
2.) Peacemakers are active, not passive.
Here’s an example. Let’s say two neighbors are fighting. To keep the peace (at least for yourself) you might avoid one or both of them. Or maybe even nod your head in agreement when they complain about the other person to temporarily keep the peace at that moment. But that’s an appeaser. Not a peacemaker.
Actively try to see all sides and why they think/feel/believe that way. Look for overlapping views or areas where there could be a compromise.
A true peacemaker would try to bring the two parties together, disarm them of their weapons, and work through the hard stuff with them to help them reconcile. That’s putting in the peacekeeping work.
Can you imagine a hostile peacekeeper? No. A peacekeeper must be gentle or else no one is going to listen to them, go to them for advice, or reconcile with them.
As a peacekeeper, we must be willing to listen and slow and careful in how we respond. People’s feelings may be involved or it might be a sensitive topic.
Also, we will not always agree with people. Sometimes agreeing to disagree, politely, is all we can do to keep the peace. And that’s OK.
4.) Resolute in the truth
While peacekeepers are open to hearing all sides, they are NOT willing to set aside God’s truth to appease someone else. Muting our own convictions and affirming someone else’s if it goes against ours can be just as wrong.
Seek out what the Bible says about a certain situation before diving in. Ask the Holy Spirit to help guide you. But always stick to God’s truth (notice I didn’t say “your truth” because what the heck is that anyway?) and what the Bible says.
5. ) Patient
Lastly, a “harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Peacemaking can be messy. It is hard dirty work. In 1781 Ben Franklin wrote to John Adams, “‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ is, I suppose, for another world. In this world, they are frequently cursed.”
Unfortunately, that’s true.
If you are trying to reconcile with someone else or trying to help two parties reconcile, things can get messier before they get better. Be willing to not only work through that mess but to be able to walk away but be patient too. Sometimes all we can do is plant seeds and wait for God to grow them and bring about a harvest in His own time.
But if we’re patient, peacemaking can be divine work.
How to Become a Peacemaker
Do you consider yourself a peacemaker? The good news is even if not (that’s me) we can become one by surrendering to God and following emulating the above traits.
Here are some practical steps to get us in the right direction.
When We Need to Make Peace with Someone Else
Do you currently need to make peace with someone in your life today? Work through these above points with that situation in mind and then wrestle with the questions below.
We must ask ourselves:
- Why do I make cutting remarks to another person?
- Why do I make demeaning remarks about them?
- What causes my resentment toward that person?”
- Why do I continue to nurse hurts by that person instead of forgiving them?
- What is it that causes me to be envious or jealous of that person?”
1.) Take it to God. Surrender the broken relationship to Him and let Him know you want to fix it!
2.) Initiate. Take the lead in reaching out to the person to reconcile or start building up a relationship.
3.) Stop talking bad about the other person or situation to others. You can always find someone ready and willing to validate your opinion. That’s not going to bring about peace but only more conflict.
And remember: When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Psalm 16:7)
Are you currently trying to help two people or groups reconcile? Work through these points again with THAT situation in mind.
Can you think of a current situation in our world that could use more peace? How could we apply these traits of a peacemaker to that situation?