Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. Mat 5:10-
I remember working in the old Lincoln Education Center in Billings, we were renovating the 3rd floor so that Billings Senior could send their freshman there to alleviate the overcrowding in the High School. One day the ceiling contractor showed up, he was not supposed to be there yet-I had him scheduled for a couple of weeks later-and he said: “I got done early on another project so I thought I would come over here and start doing the ceiling grid in the hallways.”
I told him he couldn’t do that because we still needed to get all the electrical conduit in above the ceiling and if he put up the grid that would be very difficult. He grumbled about needing to get his hours in so I told him he could put up his wall angles but nothing else.
Apparently he went and told the electrician he was putting up the ceiling grid because a little while later one of the estimators from the office of the electrical contractor showed up and started yelling at me: “If he puts up this grid we won’t be able to get our conduit in! Can’t you control your subcontractors?”
Well this didn’t set well with me. I told him to calm down, that he was just putting up the wall angle, about that time the ceiling guy walked up behind us on his stilts, and the electrician shot back. “He said he was putting in the grid.” I turned around and looked right at the ceiling guy and said; “If he starts putting up grid I’m going to knock him off his stilts! —let’s all just chill out here.”
The ceiling guy just grunted and walked away, the estimator went back to his office and the electrician had time to get his conduit in and we all got along fine for the rest of the job.
Being a peacemaker can be a challenge sometimes that’s for sure. One time I was telling Donna about refereeing some dispute at work, Jessie, who was about five I suppose, overheard it and told Donna later: “Poor Daddy, he has to babysit bad boys at work all day.”
Unfortunately, that’s exactly the way it seems sometimes. And it’s the part of the job I hate. I certainly don’t enjoy the strife.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3
Does anyone enjoy strife? I know that sounds like a no brainer but I really think some people enjoy strife, I mean, we all know people who just seem to go from crisis to crisis and just love telling everyone all about how their world is falling apart today and the universe is conspiring against them. Or people who just seem to go out of their way to antagonize people, causing arguments—just challenging people to correct them— it’s like they go through life saying to themselves; “I’m going just say whatever comes to my mind, the most obnoxious and contradictory thing I can think of and it will be right just because I said it.”
Drama queens, debaters, antagonists, hypochondriacs–some people are always looking for a struggle or a fight. I have known several people like that, and I call them life suckers; because after you pour into them over and over and they just keep coming back with bigger and better ‘woe is me’ stories, you realize that they are not being helped and you are finding yourself more and more depleted every time they walk away from you.
And the ones who feel the need to constantly correct or challenge you suck all the joy out of you and leave you feeling defensive and angry—life suckers they are.
Here’s a life sucker test for you:
- Do people walk away from you when you head their way?
- Do people seem to pretend they didn’t see you?
- Do people avoid asking you how you are doing but you tell them anyway?
- Do people get defensive when you talk to them?
- Do you find yourself apologizing a lot for something you just said or having to explain what you meant even though you actually meant it the way you said it but now realize how bad it sounded?
- Do you use the phrase: “Yeah but” a lot?
- Do you ask for prayer more than you offer it?
If you answered yes to more than a couple of these questions, then you are probably not a peacemaker- you could be a life sucker. But good news; recognizing it is the first step to recovery!
No one truly likes conflict, often we just use it to mask the fear and self-doubt that plagues our hearts. We need to reverse the flow of life so that we are giving it rather than taking it. We become peacemakers by giving the life that is so abundantly given to us, speaking life into the hearts of others rather than sucking it out of them by whining or condemning and demanding.
If you are your first priority; “What can I get, what can you give me? Bless me, heal me, love me!” Then you will never have peace and you will engender conflict everywhere you go because people will always push back against that. God cannot bless that selfish attitude and the world does not respond well to it either. It’s the givers who are blessed, the givers who are loved and from their abundance they can give and love even more.
Perhaps being a peacemaker has more to do with the words we speak to others, the words that cut to the heart where we all long for peace. Freely you have received, freely give.