In my travels, many have shared their reasons for not going to church. Most often, those reasons involved reactions to troublemakers in the body of Christ. One man had been hurt by the actions of another man. He said, “If this man was an example of the body of Christ, I don’t want to be part of that body.” This angry man hadn’t been to church in years.
Church bodies usually rebel against troublemakers. When rebelled against, troublemakers are hurt and/or surprised because they sincerely believed they had the church’s best interests at heart. I’ve met many of these wounded troublemakers.
One woman said, “I was the only spiritual person in that church. I only wanted what was best for them. When I tried to help, no one listened to me. I finally left the church.”
“Tell me about the kinds of ways you tried to help,” I gently asked. I cringed as I listened to her behavior at church business meetings. She’d criticized programs where people were working hard and doing their best. She had a PhD and offered herself as the expert on many subjects. She constantly made suggestions to the pastor about ways to improve his sermons. She questioned the way the church was spending money. This poor woman was offended that people didn’t want her advice. She cared about the church and thought she was doing the right thing. The congregation was glad to see her leave and no one had called to invite her back.
Read Matthew 5:9.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. NASU
• Are you a peacemaker or troublemaker?
• Do people call you a child of God?
• Allow God to search your heart.
• If you have been a troublemaker, ask for forgiveness.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible Study
The 7th Beatitude says blessed are the peacemakers. The promise that goes with it is “they shall be called sons of God.” Note that it doesn’t say they shall “be” sons of God. We may be sons of God but if we don’t act like it, the world won’t call us sons of God. The word “called” is in each translation I read. Also, note that the definition of peacemaker doesn’t say “makes peace or settles disputes unless there is a good reason to argue.” The implication is that making peace is more important than being right or winning a point.
The promise that goes with being a peacemaker is about what the world calls us. In other words, does the world see us as sons of God or as sons of the world?
Think of the church troublemakers you have known. Did you perceive them as being influential loving members of your church body or did you wish they would be quiet and perhaps even go away? The truth is, while troublemakers usually view themselves as enlightened or courageous people willing to stand up for what is right, most people just view them as troublemakers.
Read the two paraphrases below for Matthew 5:9.
"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. The Message
Happy are the peacemakers -- because they shall be called Sons of God. YLT
• What is the promise of the first paraphrase?
• In the second paraphrase above, how does it say peacemakers feel?
When we feel as if others are wrong or they have treated us unfairly, the natural tendency is to fight back. Unfortunately, that isn’t scriptural. Read Luke 6:27-30.
I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. NASU
• What are we to do for those who mistreat us?
• If someone hits us on the cheek, what are we supposed to do?
• If someone takes our coat, what else should we give him?
Read Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42.
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. KJV
Stirring up trouble, for any reason, feels bad. It feels bad because it offends people and is wrong. Regardless of the righteousness of our position or motives, causing strife is wrong because it ruins our witness to the world. When we are troublemakers, the world does not see us as “sons of God.”
I was in a panic. I’d known for several months that my publisher needed a professional photograph by the first of March. I’d gone to the trouble of having a photographer come out and take pictures. Then, my photographer and I both got busy and let the days slip into months without turning the digital pictures into paper pictures. Now, it was 3 weeks past the deadline and my publisher needed that picture.
Frantically, I called my photographer. He apologized for taking so long and immediately e-mailed his pick of the pictures for my publisher. “Put it on your camera stick and take it somewhere to get printed,” he suggested. “Most drugstores will print it right away.”
Bob and I went up to the local pharmacy and put my stick in the machine. “That’s a great picture,” the clerk pleasantly complimented. “Who took it?”
“My photographer,” I said innocently.
Her features hardened and her voice changed. It felt as is I could hear her saying, Aha. Caught you! What she said was, “I won’t sell you that print unless you have written permission from the photographer.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “This is on my camera stick. My photographer e-mailed me this today so I could bring it over here.”
“Sorry,” she said. “I won’t sell it to you.”
I could feel myself getting mad. Bob tensed as we both prepared for a fight. “I want to talk to your manager,” Bob insisted.
She left to get the manager. When we explained the situation to him, he smiled and agreed to sell us the picture. The woman behind the counter argued with him. “You can’t sell it to them. That corporate e-mail said that if it looked professional, we couldn’t sell it to them. We have rules for a reason.”
The manager looked at us apologetically. “I’m sorry but she’s right.”
“Show us the e-mail,” Bob demanded. When we looked at the e-mail, there were 3 specific criteria for professional photographs, none of which our picture met. Our photographer had taken this picture on my front porch so the background wasn’t solid. It was taken outside so the lighting wasn’t professional. There was no copyright notice or watermark on the picture. Yes, it was a wonderful photograph but it didn’t meet the criteria the drugstore executives had set in order to refuse to print the picture.
“According to this e-mail, you can sell me my picture,” I said to the frowning woman.
“Well, I’m not going to,” she said smugly. “There were other e-mails that had other criteria and I just can’t find them right now. I can tell a professional photographer took this.”
“He did,” I insisted, getting angrier. “He also said I owned it and could reprint it any time I wished. There is a reason he e-mailed the file without a copyright on it.”
Bob looked at the manager. “This is your call, not hers. You know it’s OK to sell us this picture.”
“Sorry,” he said. “We’ve been sued so we have rules.”
“But we’ve read your rules and this pictures doesn’t violate them,” I said indignantly.
“Is there anyone else you can call?” Bob demanded.
“Yes,” the manager said. He left to go call his boss. He came back shortly with a solution. “Call your photographer. If he gives verbal permission, we’ll print it.” Thank goodness, our photographer answered his phone. Naturally, he said we could print the picture.
As the woman behind the counter printed our picture, she continued to debate us. Bob and I couldn’t leave it alone, trying to explain why she should have just sold us the picture. “Don’t you understand,” I tried again. “There is a reason they put the criteria in there. This picture didn’t meet the criteria.” The woman set her jaw as she worked on our pictures. She still wasn’t happy about selling us the pictures.
Suddenly, I was aware of how badly I felt. I had won the war but still was upset. I left Bob to pay and went outside to pray. I had a queasy feeling that God had just given me one of those uncomfortable life lessons. When I went back inside, Bob and the woman were still arguing. I heard her say, “People steal from photographers all the time. We have to protect them.”
I looked at her and said, “I would never steal. I’m in a ministry.” She wasn’t impressed and didn’t ask what kind of ministry. I didn’t offer further explanation. As I walked out, I realized that this woman worked at a store a few blocks from me and I wouldn’t have any credibility if I tried to tell her about the love of Jesus.
I went home and started writing this devotion. It’s a dangerous thing to dare to become a Christian writer because God sends you plenty of things to write about. I’ve found that if I presume to write about a scripture, He insists I know what I’m talking about. I humbly write to you today that when I left that store, I was unhappy and the employees of that store would not have called me a child of God. I am a child of God but they would not have called me one. I may have been right but I had stirred up trouble in that store.
For today, if you feel wronged, learn from my mistake. Stop before you act. Instead of asking if you are right or wrong, ask if you are being a peacemaker. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. When Bob and I got home, all I said was, “That didn’t feel very good.” He agreed. Trust me, being a peacemaker feels better than winning or being right.