By Wayne Fancher, Jr.
Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God” (NKJV).
Unfortunately there are times in our lives when the peace that exists between ourselves and others is disrupted with strife, contention, and division. When an estrangement takes place because of strife, there is often a desire on the part of many to try to make peace, which is indeed a noble desire. Even though the desire for being a peace-maker exists in the hearts of many, quite often they do not know how to go about making the peace.
Proverbs 26:17, “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears” (NKJV).
If you do not know how to make peace between two parties that are estranged, you may find yourself adding to the strife rather than making peace. It can become as the proverb says, “like taking a dog by the ears.” You better look out or you will get pulled into the fight and end up getting bitten.
Romans 14:19, ” Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (NKJV).
Since we should be pursuing the things which make for peace, it is vitally important that we know how to pursue it. I believe there are six steps that the two estranged parties must go through for there truly to be peace between them. (1) A desire for peace from both of the estranged parties, (2) Humility, (3) Meaningful communication, (4) A willingness to face the truth, (5) A willingness to change where one is wrong, and (6) A willingness to forgive. Taking two or three of these steps is not enough. All six of these steps must be taken for there to be true peace.
A Desire for Peace from Both of the
Psalm 120:7, ” I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war” (NKJV).
Even though the peacemaker may want peace, unless both of the estranged parties want peace, one is wasting his time in trying to make peace between them. True peace cannot be forced; it must be desired before it can be pursued. Therefore the peacemaker must talk with both of the estranged parties separately and confirm that they are both truly desiring to have peace made between them.
Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (NKJV).
If peace is not initially desired by both of the estranged parties, that does not mean that one should give up on his efforts to make peace. Instead he should work on trying to create the desire for peace in their hearts. This can be done by trying to help them see how good and how pleasant it is to dwell together in unity and peace.
Proverbs 16:28, “A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.”
Being a peacemaker quite often requires spending many hours laying the proper ground work in preparing the hearts of the estranged parties for the making of peace. Preparing this ground work is done the opposite of the way a gossiper separates best friends. A gossiper will wait for you to say anything bad about your friend and then he will go tell him what you said. When your friend says anything negative in response to what the gossiper has told him, then the gossiper comes and tells you what bad things he said about you, waiting for you to respond with something else bad. Back and forth he goes carrying these bad reports preparing the ground work for the separation of two dear friends. The peacemaker, on the other hand, takes the two friends who are separated and tries to bring them back together. When talking to the estranged parties, you must look for any and everything that they say that is good about the other. Take the good things they say and the good feelings back and forth between the separated friends to help them remember and see how good it was and is to be at peace with their friend. Help to create in their hearts the proper desire for peace.
Proverbs 13:10, “By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom” (NKJV).
The strange things about separations between people, is that it is never any one’s fault. Or so it would seem that way, from talking to those involved. Each side will say, “I didn’t do anything wrong, it’s their fault.” Because separations are accompanied with so much pain and anger, those involved get their feelings hurt and become very defensive. This defensiveness and pride prevents many people from ever seeing the true nature of how the separation came about or how their actions affected those from whom they are estranged. Pride prevents many people from ever being willing to take the first steps toward peace.
Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself’ (NKJV).
Sometimes a peacemaker must try to help the estranged parties take their eyes off themselves and their feelings and try to help them look at how the other side is hurting as well. If we can encourage and help those estranged to humble their hearts, then the rest of the process of peacemaking will be much easier and go much faster.
James 1:19, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (NKJV).
Once the peacemaker has laid the ground work of desire and humility then arrange a meeting together with the estranged parties. The next big step toward peace is done with what I call “Meaningful Communication.” Meaningful communication involves both of the estranged parties being (1) swift to hear, (2) slow to speak, and (3)slow to wrath. The role of the peacemaker in this step is simply to act as a referee to make sure that both side are truly communicating with each other with respect. If at any point in the discussion the peacemaker sees that meaningful communication has broken down, then he must step in as referee and not allow things to get out of hand, otherwise before you know it you will have a dog by the ear.
Proverbs 18:13, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him” (NKJV).
One of the biggest problems people have in talking about things where emotions are involved, is that we don’t listen to what the other people are saying. The first step in meaningful communication is learning to be swift to hear. Even though you may have had your feelings hurt, stop and listen to what the other person is saying. Open your ears and your heart and hear what they say before you answer. Try as best you can to understand what the per-son is saying, how they saw the situation, and how they truly feel.
Proverbs 15:28, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil” (NKJV).
After you have heard what the other person has said and you think you fully understand, then take your time and learn to be slow to speak. Being slow to speak means that you think about what you are going to say before you say it. So think seriously about what they have said to you, then take your time to make sure your response to them is exactly what you want to say.
Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (NKJV).
How you say what you say is just as important as what you say. Because the separation involved so much emotional pain and anger, at this stage of peacemaking you must be extra careful not to allow these emotions to take over in the communication process. When people speak in anger, the anger is heard louder than the words and meaningful communication has stopped. Harsh words will only make the fire bigger and more difficult to put out. Both of the estranged parties must be slow to wrath, speaking with a soft controlled answers. When communication is meaningful and with respect, then the estranged parties can truly understand each other and hopefully put out the fires that separate them.
A Willingness to Face The Truth
Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise” (NKJV).
The fact that a separation has taken place between people tells you that someone somewhere has done something wrong. Sometimes the fault is only on one side and easy to see. Other times both sides are at fault, and trying to deter-mine what really happened as an outsider is almost impossible. It is not the job of a peacemaker to become a private investigator to try to find out what all really happened. One of the purposes of meaningful communication is to help the estranged parties understand clearly how their actions effected the separation. Very often, if the first three steps to peacemaking are taken properly, after hearing the truth, those in the wrong are willing to acknowledge the truth of their wrongdoing and you have taken a giant step toward peace. Sometimes unfortunately, the one who has done wrong refuses to face the reality and the results of his actions. In this case there is no hope of peace because those who have done wrong are right in their own eyes.
A Willingness to Change Where One Is Wrong
Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not pros-per, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (NKJV).
If someone acknowledges where he is wrong, but feels no remorse for his actions, obviously there will be no peace. It is not enough to just acknowledge where you were wrong in your actions, there must also be a humbling of oneself to where they can learn to simply say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” It is also understood whatever actions one may be doing that have caused the separation are not to continue. They must be stopped for there to be hope for peace.
A Willingness to Forgive
Colossians 3:13, “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (NKJV) .
Forgiveness is the last but not the least important step of peace. True forgiveness must take place in the hearts of those who have been wronged in any way. Otherwise, what caused the separation will continue to ferment in the heart of the offended person, until one day it is brought up again and again. We are to forgive one another as Christ forgave us. When Christ forgive us, our sin is removed as far as the east is from the west, and it’s not going to be brought up again ever. Only with true forgiveness from the heart can we remove the separation and truly be at peace with those from whom we were estranged, and be at peace with our-selves and at peace with God.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 21, p. 6-7
November 7, 1996