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Hello, Cottonwood. It's so good to see you back, and get the opportunity to open and study God's Word together, and what I believe is probably one of the most important messages that I could preach, and one of the most important teachings of Christ that we could hear that will benefit each and everyone of us. If you're joining us for the first time online, or you happen to be first time here, we're in the middle of a series. Actually, we're toward the end of a series we've been in entitled, "Blessed: Learning to Live with Eight Attitudes that Have Promise." They come from Matthew chapter five, where Jesus is preaching the best sermon that was ever preached by the greatest preacher that was ever on the face of this earth, Jesus. He starts those out with eight, what we refer to, as Beatitudes, or eight blessings.

What He's saying, if you want to live a blessed life, if you want to live a life that finds favor with God and blessings from God, you need to learn to live, I need to learn to live, we as a group, a body of believers need to learn to live with these eight attitudes. If you missed the first six, let me share with you quickly these. You can find these online. Number one was we have to live with an attitude spiritual humility, not like Pharisees and Sadducees. Have humility. Number two was when we go through those seasons of grief, and we all do, we have to let our grief move us closer to God, not build walls between others, as well as God. Here's attitude number three that God blesses. When we live a life with an attitude of a powerful gentleness. That's not weakness, it's meekness, it's strength, under control.

Here's the fourth attitude that God promises to bless and Jesus shares with us. We need to learn to live with a hunger and a desire for true righteousness, and God blesses that. Number five was this. We need to live with intentional mercy. We need to have premeditated mercy. We leave here, and there ought to be an explosion of mercy on the face of all the people that we show up and encounter day by day. Last week we looked at this. God blesses those who live with integrity. When we say what we mean, and mean what we say, when we live an honest and best we can, a pure life, God blesses that.

Today we come to number seven. I want you to know this is one we all need. I'll tell you we all need it, because this is not a natural skill that any of us in this room has. This is not something that we just are born and we're good at it. We don't just inherently have this. This is something that has to be developed, but it will impact every relationship that you are in. If you are married, you need this skill. If you have children, you need this skill. If you are at an office situation, and you're not the only one working there, you need this skill. And your friendships. This will positively impact every relationship you have on this earth. Here it is. We'll put it up on the screen. We have to learn to live as proactive peacemakers. We have to be proactive.

Notice that word proactive, because often times, peace does not come passively. It does not come in such a way that it's just going to go away. I want you to know, time doesn't heal anything. If you are in the midst of a conflict with someone, just look at some of the wars and strife and struggles that countries have been at, literally for generations. We have to learn to be peacemakers. Let me point a couple of things out. Hopefully you have your app open. If you don't have your app open, you can open it. If you don't have the app, reach there in your creek guide. Pull out the sermon insert. Let me give you Matthew chapter five, verse nine. Notice what Jesus says. Matthew chapter five, verse nine.

Jesus says, "Blessed," or "Happy, joyful, joyous, happy are the peacemakers." That's the proactive part. I want you to know those who actively go around making peace with others, "For they will be called children of God." Let me tell you what peacemaking is. It's basically conflict resolution. None of us are exactly the same. My wife and I, we've been married for over 25 years, we still don't think the same. Guys, anybody married to someone like that? What she likes and what I like, man, what I like is usually right, and what she likes is marginal. There are ways we handle things. I'm pretty loud, if y'all haven't noticed. She is as quiet as can be. I don't mind being up on the stage. Gina is not a fan of being on the stage. She likes to teach her life group, be with her ladies. We're opposite in so many ways.

Guess what? Opposites attract. How many of you know about that? How many of you also know if you aren't careful, opposites attack? Right? If we aren't careful. What is every relationship we have, is a relationship of constant peacemaking. Jesus says right here that we are blessed, we will be happier in our marriages and with our kids, and with our parents, and at the office, and in all of our friendship, and all of our relationships, in our life group, in our church, if we will be proactive peacemakers.

Let me give you a quick difference. I want to make sure, just like when we were talking about gentleness, I want to make sure you understand what I'm talking about. There is a massive difference between being a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. How many of you understand what I'm talking about? Peacekeepers are usually those people that are standing in the middle of two warring factions. Guess what usually happens to them? They're the ones that get killed, right? Because we're not solving anything. We're not fixing a problem.

Let me talk to you about this. Peacekeepers, and you can write this down, operate out of weakness, fear, and avoidance. Write that down. They operate out of weakness, and fear, and avoidance. Let me talk to you. Being a peacemaker is not avoiding the problem. Being a peacekeeper is avoiding the problem. Some people think, "I'm just going to keep peace in my marriage. I'm not going to rock the boat. I'm going to sweep everything under the rug. I'm going to swallow it. I'm going to grin and bear it." Let me tell you what, that's not peace making. That is peace keeping. What you will do, is you will grin and bear it so long, you will stuff it for so long, and eventually you will explode or you will begin to hate the other person that you're in a relationship with. Why? Because we've not fixed anything. I've avoided addressing the problem. Why have I avoided addressing the problem? Because I probably don't want to rock the boat. Guess what? If you don't rock the boat sometimes, the boat sinks.

There are times that I've seen couples, maybe it's him, that he has been rude and he's been unkind, and he's been short, and he's been this, and she's just taken it, and she's taken it, and taken it. Finally, she explodes. By the time she finally begins to talk to her husband, there are so many walls that are built, because they've avoided the problem, they've avoided the problem, and it's gotten worse and worse and worse.

It's not avoidance, nor is it appeasing. I want you to know. Being a peacemaker is not you going around appeasing everybody. It's not you going around and saying, "Just have it your way. That's okay. We'll do it your way." That is not being a peacemaker. That is a peacekeeper, and you are headed for trouble. I want to encourage you to write this down, because what I'm about to share with you from Scripture today, is you would pay a counselor about $200 an hour for this. This is not something that is natural.

I want you to know I've already been praying that I know just the simple fact that I am addressing this issue. There are some of you that are sitting here next to your mate and you both know you need to have a talk. Or you have your kids, and perhaps they're in the room, or they're not in the room, which is a source of trouble, and you know you need to have a talk. I want you to know this whole week I've been praying for you. There are some folks, it's not your husband, it's not your wife, it's someone at the office, or it's someone in your life group, it's someone in your home group that they've hurt you, or they continue to hurt you. I want to encourage you to stay tapped in, because what I'm going to share with you from God's Word will help you as you navigate those troubled waters from being a peacekeeper, or a peace avoider, or a peace appeaser, to being a peacemaker. There is a significant difference.

It's not appeasing. Appeasing, if you look in the dictionary, it means letting someone have their way. It's peace at any price. Appeasement is not peacemaking. This is a struggle for many people. They would rather let someone run all over them than find themselves in a righteous conflict. I want you to know if we are going to be legitimate peacemakers, there are going to be times that we find ourselves, put these in air quotes, "in a righteous conflict." If there's someone here that you are just naturally a conflict person. You are a type A personality. If you're a cleric, you're this. Some of you are sitting there going, "Oh, boy. I'm going to give it to somebody." That is not the heartbeat and the attitude of a peacemaker.

If your desire to go lay one on someone, to scoop them up and bop them on the head, that's bunny Foo Foo. That's not Biblical peacemaking. The peacemaker is worried about the relationship, not who's wrong. I want you to hear that. A genuine peacemaker is more worried about the relationship than establishing guilt, or making someone feel bad, or feel sorry.

If peacekeepers operate out of weakness, fear, and avoidance, peacemakers, write this down, operate out of strength, love, and a desire for reconciliation. They operate out of strength, love, and a desire for reconciliation. Let me break that word apart for you. You might want to put this down in your notes. I didn't put it in the notes. If you just break the word "peacemaker" down, it's obvious to see it's a combination of two words. Jesus used a word that He combined that made it into a peacemaker. The idea of peace came from the old Hebrew word "shalom." How many of you have ever heard the word "shalom"? It's a common greeting that Jews used. It can mean both hello and goodbye, but it means far more than that. It means, "I pray that your life is blessed, and that you are happy, and that you would experience joy in your life."

Jesus said, "Peace, shalom. We want you to find God's favor." If you go back to the word "shalom," and you track its origin and history, shalom was the abbreviation, or it was the brief statement, or abbreviated statement for the blessing that is found in Numbers chapter six, verse 22 and following. Let's go ahead and put it on the screen. Here's the blessing. "The Lord said to Moses, 'Tell Aaron and his sons this is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them, the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace.'" When an ancient Jew in the Old Testament, and early into the New Testament, when they said, "Shalom," every Jewish person that heard that phrase thought of this blessing. When you say "Shalom" as you greeted someone, you were saying, "I hope God's favor has been on you. I pray that you've lived a blessed life. I pray that you've enjoyed God's peace and God's favor."

When you were leaving and you would say "Shalom" again, you were saying, "I pray that in the time that I'm not seeing you, that you would know God's blessings and you would know God's favor, and you would know God's grace in your life." If you go on and you read this, "I pray that the sun is always on your face and the wind is always at your back, and you're never walking uphill, you're walking downhill." How many of you understand what I'm saying? When he said a peacemaker, we are trying to bring this type of blessing into someone else's life, and in my life. If it's my husband, or my wife, or my children, or this, or someone at the office, what am I trying to do? I'm trying to bring God's favor into a relationship. Remember, it's a combination of two words. Peace maker.

You want to know what that word "maker" means? It means to do. To act upon. To bring energy to. What is He saying? There are times in our sinful, earthly existence and life that I have to shalom with action. That's why I titled the message that we need to be proactive peacemakers. This doesn't need to be what you're about each and every day of your life. You don't need to rehash old wounds. You need to deal with present problems. There are times in our lives when the best thing we can do is just let it go. Let it go. We are never going to fix that. Just let it go. Don't keep rehashing, and rehashing, and rehashing something. I want to encourage you in this. Look at your current situation, your current setting, your current relationships. What is not at peace? What is a relationship that you might be in that is not finding God's favor?

Remember what Paul said in Romans chapter 12, verse 18? Put it up on the screen. He says, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Notice Paul's pretty honest. He says, "If it is possible." Guess what that also means. It is possible you may never peace at peace with someone else. Does that make sense? It is possible, but a proactive peacemaker that lives a blessed life with God's grace and favor in his life, as far as it depends on me, I am going to be at peace with you. As far as it depends on me, I am going to be at peace with you. That is a different attitude. The attitude of a peacemaker is "I am going to apply pressure until they crumble." That is not the attitude of a peacemaker. That is an attitude of someone who wants to dominate and destroy someone else. You will never build a healthy relationship if that's what you want.

A peacemaker is going to say, "As far as it depends on me, my marriage is going to be a good marriage. My relationship with my kids, or my parents, or someone at the office, it's going to be a God honoring relationship so we can both have blessings in our life. Not just me, but both of us." That's the idea, and that's the attitude.

When we come to peacemaking, and we think about this idea, and what Paul says, I want you to know you are not always going to be able to make peace. As far as it depends on you, I want you to try. Today, I want to give you four thoughts that are Biblical thoughts, and then we're going to end with the blessings of being a peacemaker. I want you to know they're real and they're legitimate, and they're God's blessings on your life, if you and I will tap in and be willing to be proactive peacemakers.

Here's number one. If you're in conflict with someone, if you struggling with someone, step number one is stop talking about people to others who have hurt you. If someone has hurt you, stop going around telling everybody what they did to you. Wives, if your husband's mean, and this, and that, stop telling all your friends, because guess what happens to him? When they find themselves at a birthday party or a Christmas party, he walks in, he's standing next to you, and what does he sense? Every woman in the room wants to take a knife out and kill him. Ladies, if you don't think we can tell, we can tell. You're like, "Okay. I'm going to go out on the porch with the boys." Stop talking about that person to someone else. Stop recounting the hurt.

Let me tell you what, if you constantly come and tell me, and you're my friend, if you tell me what so and so does to you, guess what? I'm going to start hating them. I may not know them at all, but what's my natural recourse? Let's go wring their neck. One thing I have to do is stop talking to everyone.

Look at some Scriptures that I put out for you. Look at Proverbs chapter 10, verse 19. Notice what it says. He says, "Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent will hold their tongue." The more you talk about something disqualifies you from being a peacemaker. Why? If the person who has hurt you sees you rallying the troops to come against them, or you're talking about them, their natural response is going to be what? Get more bitter. Get more angry. We don't want to be that way. I want you to know, the more people you talk to, the more people you tell, that makes you more of a gossip and a slanderer than it does make you a peacemaker. It disqualifies you.

Look at the next passage right there. Ephesians chapter four, verse 29. Here's what Paul says. "Do not let any unwholesome talk, or word, come out of your mouths, but only what is good or helpful for building up of others according to their needs." Why? "That it may benefit those who listen." The first thing I want to make sure is that I stop just talking about how I've been hurt, and who hurt me, and throwing them under the bus. If all I'm doing is throwing someone under the bus, I have disqualified myself from being a peacemaker.

There is a second aspect. This is the flip side of that coin. Seek wisdom in how to approach someone. Seek wisdom in how to approach someone. Wisdom says I'm not going to tell everybody, but I am going to say, "If I'm going to go talk to this person, because they continue to do this, and they continue to do this, and it's over and over, and it's an ongoing process, or I see this between two people, I need to do something. I need to ask for wisdom. The first person I need to ask is God." What did James, the brother of Jesus say in James chapter one, verse five? Look at it. We'll put it up on the screen and notice this. Here's exactly what James says. James says, "If any of you lacks wisdom," in other words, if you know there is a relationship that you have that you need to go and address the problem, the first person to talk to you is not other people. It's God.

James 1:5 says this, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." Start by asking God. Say, "God, is this something that I should just let go? Was this a one off experience? Were they just having a bad day, or is this a pattern that over and over and over again, they attack me, or they attack someone else, or they destroy the relationship?" There is a significant difference between those. Did the person just have a bad day?

As I was preparing this message, I began to think about my own relationship. A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you about me drinking Gina's tea, and she said I always get hosed. By the way, I paid that back. If any of you don't follow me on social media, I paid my bills. I began to think back a couple of weeks ago. It was about three weeks ago now. It was on a Saturday afternoon. It was one of those crazy weekends. My phone was going off, and everything was going on. Gina stopped, and right in the middle of all of the things going on with the phone, I also happened to be watching college football. It was my release.

Gina walked in and she began to have a conversation with me. I was stressed out about some things that were going on in relationships and people's lives. As she began to talk, I began to think ... This is exactly what went on in my mind, "This seems like it's going to be a long story." I didn't say I was the perfect pastor. Guys, how many of you have ever thought that? Okay. I'm like, "I've got things going on. I've got the game, and this sounds like it's going to take a while."

I began to listen for a while. Guys, I know y'all are way more spiritual than me, but as we begin to journey into the story, I ask a question. It's a legitimate question. Some of you already know. "What's the point?" I married Mother Teresa. She doesn't do anything wrong. Let me tell you what. That's a high bar. That's not normally the way I talk to my bride, and she knows that. Here's how she responded. "That's rude." At that point, I've got a choice to make. I could've said, "You want to hear rude? Let me tell you what's going on here. Our defense is terrible." I just looked at her and said, "You're right. I'm sorry."

Let me just tell you, we did not finish the conversation then. We finished it later. We won the game, but here's what my bride, Mother Teresa, she didn't hold it against me, because if you ever see 99.9% of the time, I honor my bride. I speak to her caringly and lovingly. You can find a one off moment where I'm rude, so I want you to know we're not talking here about you having a sit down conversation with something about every little thing they do. That's not peacemaking.

I live and operate in an environment where I have to, regardless of what is going on, I can never lose it. How many of you know, you don't want to hear that your pastor lost it. Your pastor wants to lose it from time to time, but I have to stuff my emotions and stuff things, because whatever is coming my way, I have to be able to respond and not react. If you want to know what will make my knees shake and my hands quiver, and sweat begin to come right down the front, is if my wife says four words. Guys, you know what these words are. If she ever looks at me and says, "We need to talk." Guys, how many of you know what I'm talking about? A big sweat bubble begins to come down here. I'm like, "Why?" Because I know, from past experience, I'm guilty.

I'm like, "Okay. When?" I'm like, "When do you want to do it? What's it about? I just want to know what's it about." The best thing in the world is when we begin to sit down and talk, and we need to talk, and she says, "It's about the kids." I'm like, "Thank you Jesus." We need to talk about your kids, honey. You should've spent more time with them when they were growing up. You understand? Ladies, let me tell you, when you look to ... And I do, I honor my wife. I love my wife, but when she says, "We need to talk," it's just like this. We're not talking about all the time. This is pointed and this is clear, but I start by asking for wisdom from God.

Look at Proverbs chapter 13, verse 10. I want to talk to the right people. If God says you need to go, and you feel like you need to talk to someone before you go, don't talk to people who can't help. Talk to someone who can. He says, "Where there is strife, there is pride. But wisdom is found in those who take good advice." Go to someone you trust that not only loves you, but also loves them. Don't just go talk to someone who's always going to take your side. Talk to someone who will challenge you in your thought process a little bit. Talk to someone who will say, "Let's see it from their perspective." If you don't want to see it from their perspective, you probably are not looking to make peace. You're looking to make war. You want to seek good advice.

There are some people that I can go to and say, "Hey, give me your thoughts on this situation." There are some people that I know are going to immediately take my side, or take somebody's side. There are other people that are like, "Here's the way I see it. Here's the way I see it." That's a lot of times, I'm grateful. I've been asked not to do a lot of marriage counseling anymore, because a lot of times it ends up in war. Let me tell you what, if I'm sitting in there and I'm not choosing sides, someone's getting mad. I choose the side of preserving the marriage. I want you to know, if you're going to come into my office, that's the side I'm on. Let's fix it. Some people don't want to fix it, they just want to talk about it and focus on the problem.

You have to come to someone, talk to someone, seek wisdom first from God, and then someone who can help. Here's number three. You ready? This is the hard part. You have to take the first step by talking to the other person. You just have to go, "We got to do it." Jesus is very clear on this. Jesus is very clear. It's not an option. If someone has hurt me, and it has broken my relationship, if they're continuing to hurt me, certainly they need to confess. If I am going to be a peacemaker, shalom is to do. I need to take the first step. I've asked God what I need to do, asked God, "Should I just let it go?" I've talked to someone else. I've gotten advice. Then I have to go talk to the problem. That is taking action.

Notice what Jesus said in Matthew chapter five, verse 23 and 24. He says, "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar," this is you're going to worship, "If you're going to worship, if you're given your gift at the altar, and there you remember ..." Oh by the way, "Your brother or your sister has done something against you, and it is bitter in your heart." It's not something you can let go. Time doesn't heal all wounds. They continue to do it. Every time they see you, they put a barb in you. They slap you around a little bit. They pour a little salt in the wound. Anybody know that?

What does He says? Notice what He says. He says, "Remember your brother has something against you. Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go." Everybody say go. If you are going to be a peacemaker, you have to go. Who do I have to go to? The person that I need to make peace with. He says, "First go. Be reconciled." That's restoring the relationship to them. "Then come and offer your gift."

That means even if you come to worship, and you've got this strife, this struggle, and you come, and you lay the offering at the altar. Then you say, "Man, oh Bob, or oh Joe, or oh so and so, they're over there, and it eats me up. They continue to do it." He says, "Leave your offering at the altar." That's important for me as the pastor. If you are going to go fix something, go ahead and leave your offering. That's what Jesus said. Just leave your offering. That way if you don't come back, at least your offering is good. We'll bless it. There are times that we go through the motion, and we've got all this hostility between us and them. I need to fix it, or get over it.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." As I go, and as I think, let me give you a couple of thoughts about when you actually go. You might want to write these down, and these are Biblical. This is what Jesus said, and God's Word says. Thought number one. When you sit down for the talk, choose the right time, the right place, the right words. If this is with your husband or your wife, bed is not the place. I'm just going to tell you. Your bed at night is not the place to resolve conflicts. That is a sacred space in a sacred place. If you want to fix it, do earlier. Go out somewhere. Find the right place and the right time. It's important. Here's number one. You ready? Begin with your own faults and mistakes before you tell them how you feel.

You might want to write this down. Even if it's 90% their fault. I will guarantee you, every time Gina comes to me it's at least 90 mine. Even if it's 90% their fault, you find the 10%, and you be honest with them. The 10% you want to be honest with, don't start by saying this, "You're such a loser. I should've come a long time ago, and that's my fault." That is not owning anything. Don't say, "As sorry as you've been the last seven years, my mistake, my bad that I haven't worn you out before today." That is not what I'm talking about. What have you done? You say it, and you share it, and you own it.

Notice what Jesus said in Matthew chapter seven, verses three and five. Put two Scriptures for you up on the screen. He says, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye." I want you to know, what Jesus said here, it drew a laugh. We don't understand the Hebrew idioms and the ideas, but Jesus gives a hyperbole of a statement. He goes, "Listen. Before you go try to pick the speck out of your brother's eye, take the telephone out of your own eye." That was absurd, right? Who has a log in their eye?

Let me tell you what, a speck's pretty important. How big a piece of speck, how big a piece of sand needs to be in your eye before it needs to be removed? How many of understand? It can be little. He wasn't minimizing what they did. He was just maximizing the need for us to first examine our hearts and our own lives. Notice what James, the brother of Jesus said in James chapter four, verse one. He says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your own desires that battle within you?" He says, "Where do fights and struggles, where do those come from? They come from our own desires that battle within me."

That's where struggles come from. They want what's right for them, you want what's right for you, I want mine, you want yours. In your marriage, in your relationships, at the office. We want things our way, right? I do. I want things my way. What's the most common reason people give today? For divorce, incompatibility. That's the number one reason people give for divorce. Incompatibility. Let me just tell you what, that is bunch of hogwash. I'm going to tell you why. Because everyone's incompatible. How many of you understand that? Everyone. Gina and I are different. We are as opposite as night and day, and probably you are too.

The reality of it is, am I willing to grow? Am I willing to have those times where I'm going to be a peacemaker in our lives? Am I going to let certain things go, and I am going to address other things? Am I going to look out more for her than I do for me? That's a real issue. It's not that you just have different personalities and you're different people, and you grew up in different homes. That's everybody. The truth is, you and I need to understand. What causes struggles is when I get selfish. I have to own it.

After you've owned it, here's the second thought. You ready? Listen for their past wounds and current viewpoint. How do they view the situation? I want you to know, once you've owned your stuff, then you begin to listen their stuff. Truly listen. Don't look at them and say, "I'll give you 10 seconds to defend yourself before I wear you out." Or don't end and say, "You can go ahead and try to defend yourself before we get on with this, but it's not going to help. Go." You want to listen for their current viewpoint. You want to hear what they're truly saying.

Look at what James 1:19 says. He says, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak, and slow to become angry." He's saying empathize with them. Listen to what they're saying. Listen to where they're coming from. Try to gain insight into their life. The only way to do that is you've got to stuff self just a bit. A peacemaker is willing to do that. It is an action. It's an activity. Look at Philippians chapter two, verse four and five. It says, "Not looking out to your own interests, but each one should look out to the interests of the others." In your relationships, notice this. This is the idea. "In your relationships, with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus did." What is that? He looked out for my interest. When Jesus looked at me and looked at you, and looked at us, and looked at those handful of sinners that He had been delivered into, they did not deserve His grace or His mercy. None of us do.

In our relationships, Paul says we have to have this mindset. The same mindset that Jesus had. If you are thinking about becoming a peacemaker, you have to pursue peace in such a way that I am going to look out for their interests in the middle of this. Here's the third thing. You have to speak the truth sensitively and carefully. Speak the truth sensitively and carefully. Think well, very well, about what you are going to say, and even how you're going to say it, and the tone you're going to use, and the examples you are going to use to best communicate the problem and not force your point. You want to communicate in clear, tactful, gracious words.

Look at what Solomon said in Proverbs chapter 15, verse one. He says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." That's why your start with your own faults. Then you listen to their perspective, and then you share what you need to share, but you share it tactfully. Scripture says, "Speak the truth in love."

I will tell you, and I've heard Christians say this a lot. I've heard Christians say this, "I just tell it like it is." How many of you know what I'm talking about? I just tell it like it is. Let me tell you what, that's not Christian speech. If you're a Christian and you brag about, "When I see someone and they're lost, I just tell them like it is. You're dying and you're going to hell." Did Jesus ever say that one time? No. It says even when He's going to His crucifixion, He looked at Jerusalem, and He said, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I long to draw you to myself," and it says He wept. We speak the truth in love.

If all your point is in this, is to go speak the truth, and you don't attach love, it's not peacemaking. It's point making. I want to speak the truth in love. I want to share things. Look at Proverbs chapter 12, verse 18. It says, "The words of the reckless person pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." You better be careful with your words. You better not just pierce them through, stab them, and make them bleed. That's not peacemaking. That's problem causing. That's making it bigger. That's getting even. Here's the important one. You ready? Write this down, and this is really important.

Focus on fixing the relationship, not proving guilt. Focus on fixing the relationship, and not proving guilt. What do you want? You want the relationship to be healthy and growing going forward. That's the point. Your point in being a peacemaker is not to get them to to place where they say uncle in the conversation. Your job is to fix the relationship. If your number one goal is not to fix the relationship, don't go. I want to say that again. If your number one point is not fixing the relationship, don't go. What does Colossians chapter three, verse eight and nine say? "Now you must rid yourself of all such things as these. Anger and rage, and malice, and slander, and filthy language from your lips." Look at Romans chapter 15, verse two. He says, "Each one of you should ..." Listen to this. "Should please our neighbor for their good." Why? "To build them up." Fix the problem, not the blame.

Let me tell you what, this is hard. That's why I said this may be one of the most important messages you will hear, because it'll challenge your ... What is your motive for the conflict that you are about to journey in? If your true, genuine motive is to simply make sure they know they're guilty, you're not a peacemaker. If your heart's desire is to fix the relationship, then just listen to what God's Word says. Guess what? It may not be as fun as you think. Why? Look at number four.

Accept reconciliation without perfect resolution. Accept reconciliation without perfect resolution. You say, "What does that mean, Pastor?" Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. Resolution focuses on solving every problem and difference. Let me tell you what, between you and me, or you and someone else, or someone at the office, you may never completely be able to fix all the differences, but you can fix the relationship. Do you understand what I'm saying? There are times that we agree to disagree. What does that mean? I agree that I shouldn't be doing that to you. I shouldn't be saying that to you, but we disagree. Here's the point. What is reconciliation? Fixing the relationship. Let's think about how God reconciled me to Himself.

He took the first step. God looked at me, looked at you, saw I was dead in my sin, He took the first step. He sent His Son. His Son died on the cross. He was buried and rose again on the third day. Guess what? He fixed my relationship, but there are still problems. What are the problems? I am still a sinner. How many of understand what I'm talking about? God cared more about reconciling me than making me perfect. Someday I will become like His Son fully, but not until I leave this earth.

Look at 2 Corinthians chapter five, as we think about this. He says, "All of this is from God." Don't try to resolve every issue. Fix the relationship. If you can fix the relationship, and if you have a list of 10 issues and problems, and you only get through number one and the relationship's fixed, let it go. Does that make sense? Don't feel like, "Now we've gotten that out of the way, let me tell you what else you do that I hate." You've gone right back into the problem. Once I fix the relationship, if someone ... And there are times that I've heard, I've seen it, I've watched it. I've watched a husband and a wife who are at each other's throats and finally, in a moment of brokenness, he doesn't list everything, but you can tell he's broken. He looks his head down and says, "Honey, I'm sorry."

I've never seen it help when she grabs a piece of paper and a pen and she goes, "Write down everything you're sorry for." I've sat back as a pastor and I said, "We just had it." They're not going to fix what he did. They're not going to fix what she did, but in this moment of brokenness, the relationship, and she gets the glimmer in her eyes, and he looks back up at her, the woman he's been fighting with for the last six months or nine months, and he remembered the woman who walked down the aisle. His heart begins to beat a little faster, tears begin to come down his eyes, and at that point, I want you to know, if you're the pastor in the room, you are real uncomfortable, because you know he wants to kiss her face off. You're like, "Do I need to leave y'all alone?"

Let me tell you what, when that moment happens, it's not because he's gone down the list. It's because they're focusing on let's get back on the same page with our relationship. 2 Corinthians five, verse 18 says God's given us the ministry of reconciliation. That's what we should be about, being peacemakers. Let me give you the blessings of being a peacemaker. I'm going to go through these quickly.

Number one, you'll be a happier person. Let me tell you what, when your relationship is a ride, and you're rolling through, you're going to be a happier person. James three, verse 18 says, "Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness." That benefits yourself. Notice what Genesis chapter 15, verse 20, this is Joseph. He says, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for the good to accomplish what is now being accomplished." What? Saving of many lives. What makes you happier than to be in relationships that benefit you and benefit other people?

Here's number two. You ready? You will reflect God's character more. You will reflect God's character more. Give you two. Ephesians chapter four, verse 32. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you." When I begin to forgive and love and reconcile, I begin to reflect God's character. Look at Colossians chapter three, verse 13. "Bear with each other. Forgive one another. If any of you has a grievance against someone, forgive just as God has forgive you." You reflect God's character. You are a happier person.

Here's number three. You ready? Your walk with God will improve. You will grow spiritually when you are not walking around with bitter envy, and hatred in your heart. Look at Hebrews chapter 12, verse 14. "Make every effort to live in ..." Everybody say it. What is it? To live in what? Live in peace. Shalom. That you want to see everybody blessed because you want to be blessed. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone, and to be holy. Without holiness, no one can see God.

I want to invite you to bow your heads. Zane and Kara are going to come back up. Our team is going to come back up, and we're going to sing one verse of one song before we leave. That song we've been singing throughout this series. God, build my life. Build my life. My prayer is that if there is some peacemaking that needs to happen here, that you would take these words. If there's someone here, if there's a couple here or a friend here, or a relationship here that you know it needs to happen. If someone takes the bold step of in loving right fashion, come to you, receive them well. Don't let your flesh take over. You immediately begin to resist.

Father, my prayer today is that as your people, that we would know of your grace, that you would build our lives in the area of peacemaking. God, that we'd be strong. That we would know your love, that we'd have a firm foundation. That we would see you. Because of the fact that we are peacemakers, you would call us children of God. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

 

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Cottonwood Creek Church // 1015 Sam Rayburn Tollway, Allen, TX 75013 // 972-359-7777 © 2019