Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Producing Peace

Craig Smith - Producing Peace

Craig Smith - Producing Peace
TOPICS: Chasing Peace, Peace

Good morning. Welcome to Mission Hills and go ahead and grab a seat. So good to have you with us today. We’re wrapping up our Chasing Peace Series today. And so, one last time, for those of you that this might be your first time here, here’s what we know about experiencing peace in our lives. First off, we know that peace is never a product of our circumstances. Even if our circumstances are perfect, we’re gonna worry that they’re gonna change and so we won’t have a lasting peace that comes from our circumstances. Rather, peace is always a byproduct of the pursuit of godly character. It really it’s about a focus on who we are. And the more that we’re in the process of becoming like Jesus, the more that we’ll find that we experience peace that’s not tied to our circumstances.

And our guide for the series in pursuing godly character has been the Book of Proverbs chapter 6, starting at verse 16. It says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him, haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” And we know that God hates these things because he loves us. He hates these things because he knows the damage that these things do to us. And when these character traits are part of our lives, he knows the damage that we end up doing to other people. He hates these things because they’re peace killers. And so what we’ve been doing in this series is pursuing the opposite of each of these character traits so that we can experience the peace that comes from the opposite of these things.

Now, today, we’re going to lean into this last one, a person who stirs up conflict in the community. We’re gonna talk about the opposite of that. But before we do that, let me just say this, I think it’s important to understand that that last one isn’t just another item in the list, it’s not just one of seven. It’s actually the culmination of the other six. The other six all come together to make this person who stirs up conflict.

And part of the reason we know that is because all the other six are actually related to body parts. They’re actually related to parts of the person, right? There’s haughty eyes, a lying tongue, there’s hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, which doesn’t sound like a body part. But in the original Hebrew, the Hebrew word for pours out is actually based on the Hebrew word for mouth. So, it’s literally it’s a false witness who mouths lies. And so they’re all associated with body parts. And the idea is that all these parts of a person come together to make one person who stirs up conflict in the community.

And so, what we wanna do today is we wanna talk about how to not be a person who stirs up conflict, how to be the opposite of that, which is how to be a peacemaker. And the best place I know of in God’s Word to go to understand how to become a peacemaker is actually another list of seven items that we find in the Bible. It’s found in Matthew 5, I’d love for you to grab a Bible and start making your way to Matthew chapter 5, that’s where we’re gonna spend most of our time today. Matthew chapter 5 contains one of probably Jesus’s most famous messages. It’s called the Sermon on the Mount, sermon on the mountaintop. And it has several sections, and one of the sections of the Sermon on the Mount is a section called the Beatitudes. And beatitude just means extremely blessed. And we call this section the Beatitudes because every line of this section begins with the word blessed. And the idea here is that God loves these things, and therefore he blesses them.

Now, there’s nine lines, actually, that have the word blessed at the beginning, but two of them are different than the other seven. The last two are things that happen to us. And God blesses us when these things happen to us. But the first seven are all things that we choose to do, okay? And we’re told that God loves it when we do these things, and he blesses it when we do those things. And so there’s a very clear section here that most scholars recognize of seven things that God loves and blesses. And the first one is this, he says, chapter 5, verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

And the first question we wanna ask, of course, is, well, what does it mean to be poor in spirit? Right, because clearly, God’s not saying he blesses those with poor, pathetic spiritual lives, right? Clearly, that’s not what he means. What does he mean? Well, it might help to understand that the Greek word for poor can also mean humble. We actually do the same thing in English, right? If we say that somebody came from humble beginnings, what we mean is they grew up poor, they grew up lacking. And that’s what Jesus is talking about here. He really says, he says, “Blessed are the humble in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

And it’s interesting. The first item on the list of things that God hates is haughty eyes, which we talked about a few weeks ago means pride. So, God hates pride, but he loves those who are humble in spirit. And actually, the connection may be a little deeper than that because there’s this phrase in English we say that the eyes are a window to the soul or the spirit. And that’s actually rooted in several places in the Bible where you have a similar idea said. And so, the idea is that the eyes actually become a window on the spirit. Either they reveal that we’re full of pride, or they reveal that we’re full of humility. And the thing is that God clearly hates pride, but he loves humility.

Now, why is that? Well, we’ve talked about that a few weeks ago. But the bottom line is that pride leads to conflict, but humility is the foundation for peace. Pride leads to conflict. Prideful people go through life creating conflict with other people. Everywhere they go, you see coming. In fact, if you see a person that everywhere they go there is conflict, there’s a really good chance that the root of it is that they’re struggling with pride. It’s just such a consistent thing.

Humility, on the other hand, becomes the foundation for peace. Not only does it produce peace as we talked about it a few weeks ago, but it comes to the first step on the road to becoming a peacemaker. Why is that? Well, here’s the thing. It’s really hard to pick a fight with a humble person. It’s almost impossible, actually, because you know what? They don’t need to be right all the time. They don’t think that they’re right all the time. And they’re happy to say when they’re wrong. And, like, that just ruins a good fight. Every time you’re having a fight with somebody or you’re getting at that point, and you’re like, “Hey, you did this to me.” And they go, “You’re right. That was wrong. I’m really sorry. But will you forgive me for that?” You’re like, “Well, yeah.”

But the fight just evaporated, right? It’s really hard to have a conflict with somebody who doesn’t think they’re always right or really need to be right and who’s willing to admit when they’re wrong. Humility really lays the foundation for peace. Certainly, that’s true in a relationship with God. It’s humility that comes before God and says, “Hey, I’m not always right. I’m sinful. I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” And that’s what allows us to take hold of forgiveness. And so, he says, “Therefore, you have the kingdom of heaven,” but it also builds that relationship with other people. That’s the starting point.

And he goes on here and he says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. And the question we wanna ask there is well, mourn what? Because it doesn’t mean that blessed are those who are sad because they’ve lost someone, because Jesus is talking to the followers of Jesus he’s saying, “When you do these things, when you bring these character traits into your life, you’re gonna find that God blesses you in certain ways.” And so, this isn’t just being sad because you’ve lost someone.

Besides, think about this is a little bit weird, but did you know there’s a Church of Satan? Like there’s an actual, it’s a 501C3 Church of Satan. And it was founded by a man named Anton LaVey. Well, Anton LaVey died a few years ago, and all of his followers were sad that he had died. Do you think God’s saying that he blesses the Satanists because they’re sad that the founder of the Church of Satan has died? I don’t think so. Clearly, God’s talking about something else here, we’re mourning something more than just the loss of someone that we care about.

Well, what’s he talking about? What’s interesting, the second thing that we’re told in Proverbs 6 that God hates is a lying tongue. He hates a lying tongue. And if you’re with us, in that message, you’ll see that we went back to the very first lie that was ever told, it was told by Satan. And he told it to Eve, he was trying to get her to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of deciding for yourself, of making your own decisions, and kind of kicking God off the throne of life and putting yourself on the throne of your life. He’s trying to get her to eat that and she said, “Well, we’re not supposed to eat it. And God said that if we do eat from it we will die.”

And Satan said, “You won’t certainly die.” And because of that lie, she ate of it, and she gave it to Adam and Eve, and they lied, they ate from it. And the end result was that they died. Two ways we saw that happen in the ancient world, death was primarily about relational separation. And so when they ate from it, and we see their relationship with God was immediately broken, but also their relationship with each other was immediately broken. And so, there was that kind of death. But then ultimately it led to their physical deaths as well. When you unplug from the God of life, you’re gonna ultimately end up in death.

And so, the first lie led to death. And I believe that’s actually what Jesus is talking about. He’s talking about mourning the damage caused by our sin, mourning the death of our relationship with God, and the death of our relationships with each other and the peace that we could have had with each other because of our sin. But Jesus says blessed are those who mourn,” and blessed are those who recognize that they’ve done it and blessed are those who are willing to be honest about it. That’s an incredibly powerful thing because Jesus said this, this is 1 John 1:9 he said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and he is just and he will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

See, being honest with God about the fact that we have sinned, mourning our sin, and the damage that it’s done, it leads to forgiveness. It’s the only route to forgiveness. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. But the only way we get there to receive that gift is to recognize and mourn the damage of our sins, to be honest with God to confess that sin. And the result is that we’re forgiven. That our sins are washed away that we no longer have guilt, and we don’t labor under the shame that comes from the wrong that we’ve done. And so, in that way, we have peace with God.

But honestly, about the damage we’ve caused by our sin also builds peace with other people, right? Several years ago, I was counseling a couple. And quite honestly, it was probably…it might have been the marriage in the worst shape I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a couple so deeply bitter towards each other, just with just years of built-up resentment. And honestly, I wasn’t counseling. Coletta and I were doing it together. And I don’t know if we were counseling, we were just kind of playing a referee. And at one point, trying desperately to bring something positive into the conversation, I looked at the husband, I said, “Hey, let’s do this. Let’s do this. Let’s talk about the last time that you said you were sorry to her.” And he said, “Well, I don’t think I’ve ever said that.”

And I said, “No, no, no, I don’t mean like the last time you bought flowers and made it big. I just mean the last time that you realized you did something wrong and you said you’re sorry.” And he goes, “It’s been months. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that.” And I was like, “Dude, I said it to my wife three times before we got here today.” And I looked at her and she goes, “I don’t think he’s ever said it. But to be perfectly fair, I don’t think I’ve ever said it.”

I was like, “Well, you guys are telling me you’ve never said you’re sorry? Well, no wonder there’s so much built-up anger, and bitterness, and resentment. No wonder there’s so little peace in this relationship because you’ve never been honest about what you’ve done wrong and the damage that it’s caused. So, here’s the first thing you need to do start saying the three most powerful words.” This is a relationship act, do you know what the three most powerful words you’ll ever say are? “I was wrong.” I was wrong, the three most powerful words ever. Because when we say them, it begins to diffuse something of this hostility that we’ve caused by our sin. So it leads to forgiveness from God and peace with God, but an honesty about the damage that we’ve caused of our sin, mourning that damage, it also leads to peace in our relationships with other people and we’re comforted.

He says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Blessed are the meek, which is another one of those words that I can’t remember the last time I used the word meek in a conversation. Anybody else? It’s kind of an old-fashioned word. In fact, it’s interesting, I’m reading the New International Version, which they updated in 2011 to make some of the language a little bit more modern. And every now and then I’m like, “I think you missed one.” Right there, meek, it’s really an old-fashioned word. But all it really means is humble, okay? He says, “Blessed are the humble…” I’m sorry, not humble, he means gentle. “Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth.” And it’s interesting.

The third item that we find in the list in Proverbs 6 that God hates is hands that shed innocent blood. Violence, the opposite of gentle, right? The exact opposite. And so, what Jesus basically says is God hates violent hands, but he loves gentle hands, and they’ll inherit the earth. Now, why is that? Well, if you think about it for a moment, why do people engage in violence? Why do they cause harm to others? And the answer is typically to get a hold of something that they want for themselves. I want their money, right? I want their job. I want something from them, right? You’re taking for yourself, and we do it by violence. But Jesus, interestingly enough, says, “Yeah, but the meek inherit the earth.” They don’t just get a couple of things from the earth, they actually inherit the whole kit and caboodle, right?

And as we talked about it a few weeks ago, that the true mark of gentleness, the true mark of meekness is actually compassion. It’s not just an unwillingness to do harm to the innocent. It’s an unwillingness to do harm to the guilty. In fact, it’s a willingness to do good things for those who don’t deserve it. That’s what compassion is. And that’s the truest mark of humility. It’s also the truest mark of gentleness. It’s the truest mark of meekness. But more than that, compassion may be the clearest evidence that we’re God’s children. Because God looks at us with compassion. And when we look at others with compassion, we saw this a few weeks ago, that’s the proof of our family resemblance, it’s the proof that we’re in a right relationship with God that he’s transforming us in the inside out when we treat others with the same compassion with which he treated us.

And it’s interesting. As we saw a few weeks ago, when Jesus gave one of his greatest teachings on compassion, it was started because a man came to him and said, “Teacher, what do I have to do to inherit eternal life?” Not earn it, not gain it, not take it, but how do I inherit it? In other words, how do I know I’m in a right relationship with God so that he can give me what only he has the ability to give? And Jesus taught us about compassion. He said, compassion may be the clearest evidence that we are, in fact, God’s children. And here he says, “Blessed are the meek, the gentle, the compassionate, for they will inherit the earth.”

Compassion, as we said, a few weeks ago, compassion kills hostility and it produces peace. And it does that in all of our relationships. Certainly, it does it with God. We talked about a few weeks ago that when we’re compassionate to others, that keeps God’s compassion flowing on us. And I don’t know about you, I need God’s compassion every single day. And one of the ways we keep that compassion flowing to us is that we pass it on to others, we look at others with the same compassion with which he looks at us. So, it creates peace with our relationship with God.

But it also creates peace in our relationship with other people too because it’s very, very hard to maintain hostility towards somebody who’s being compassionate to you. It’s very hard to maintain hostility towards somebody that you’re being compassionate to. Even if you don’t feel compassion toward them, if you choose to practice compassion, you’re gonna find that hostility just evaporates. The conflict goes away because there’s something about the way that God has wired us that compassion just kills hostility. And it produces peace, both in our relationship with God, but also in our relationships with each other. He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst but blessed are those who long for righteousness above everything else. And really, that’s just kind of a poetic way of saying blessed are those whose hearts want to be righteous more than they want anything else.

And it’s interesting. The fourth item on the list of things that God hates is a heart that devises wicked schemes. And here we have this contrast, he says, “God hates a heart that devises wicked schemes, but he loves a heart that longs for righteousness more than anything else,” a heart that longs for righteousness so much that it’s become a thirst, that it’s become a deep-seated hunger. And it’s interesting, wicked schemes are a way to get wicked gain, right? That’s what a scheme is, a scheme is not just a way to get something, it’s a wicked way to get a wicked something. It’s a wicked scheme to get a wicked want.

In other words, it’s a heart that longs for things that it shouldn’t have. It’s a heart that longs for, you know, her husband, or his wife, or their house, or that car, or that promotion, or that job, or their bank account to be moved into mine. It’s how do we get things that I shouldn’t want. That’s what wicked schemes are. And a heart that longs for wicked things, develops wicked schemes, but Jesus says, but those who have a heart that’s led to a hunger and a thirst for righteousness, he says, they’ll be filled. They actually have what they longed for. And the reality is that a heart that longs for righteousness brings peace to all of our relationships. That when our primary concern is righteousness, that changes every relationship ever.

Certainly, it changes our relationship with God. Because we’re no longer distracted from those things we shouldn’t be running after, we’re running towards him. And he’s ready to be caught. He’s ready to meet us halfway, more than halfway to come to us when we begin to race after him instead of all those distractions that the world provides. But it also changes our relationships with others, when righteousness is the first thing that we’re looking for.

Let me give you a little relationship hack. I’ve learned that there’s tremendous value in doing this. Every now and then, Coletta and I will have a conflict. It’s rare, like once every seven or eight years, right? Obviously not because I said I have to say I’m sorry two or three times a day, and sometimes I don’t, and we end up in a conflict. And I’ve discovered that if earlier in the conflicts I asked myself this question, here’s the question, I say, “Craig, do you wanna be righteous or do you wanna be right?” And if I can remember that I actually wanna come out of this conflict righteous more than I wanna come out of it right, it’s not actually a conflict, it becomes a conversation.

That’s not easy. It’s not always easy because the truth of the matter is a lot of times like, “Do I wanna be righteous or right? I really wanna be righteous, but I am right. So, if I could just have both that would be awesome.” But that concern for righteousness changes the relationship. It changes the way that I speak to her, it changes the way that I engage in that relationship. It changes what it is that I’m pursuing and that fundamentally changes the relationship itself. And so, the reality is that the pursuit of righteousness produces peace.

And then there’s this, we’re told that they will be filled, that those who long for righteous will be filled because God loves to satisfy longings that are for good things. I noticed when my kids were little, there was a direct relationship between how good the thing they wanted was and my willingness to give them a lot of it, right? I mean, if they wanted candy, if they want ice cream, I often would say, “No,” or I’d give them very small portions. But if they said, “Hey, Dad, I really want green beans,” which never happened. But hypothetically, if that had ever happened, like I’d have been like, “I will give you green beans, I will give you as many of them as you want, back up the truck, right, prepare to be filled.” Direct relationship between how good the thing is and my willingness as a father to give it to them in large quantities. The same thing is true in our relationship with God, if what we long for is righteousness, God goes, “I will give it to you until it overflows out of you, and it transforms every relationship you ever engage in.” And in that way, it brings peace.

He says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” And mercy, it’s a very specific word. Basically, the concept of mercy is to not take revenge on those who have hurt you, but instead to be kind to them. That’s what mercy is, not to take revenge on those who have hurt you, but it’s to be kind to them. And it’s interesting. The fifth thing that we’re told that God hates is feet that are quick to rush into evil, feet that are impatient about getting where they’re going, because often where they’re going isn’t a good place. And one of the things we’re told never to rush into is revenge.

Romans chapter 12, verse 19, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.” In other words, be patient. Instead of you taking revenge, just hit pause, and let God do what really needs to be done. For it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him. And if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” What’s that sound like? Sounds like mercy, doesn’t it? “Be patient and as you be patient, not seeking revenge, give mercy to your enemy.” And then he says this, “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

And you know what overcoming evil with good sounds a lot like? Sounds a lot like peace to me. You see that progression? It’s patience plus mercy equals peace. Patience plus mercy equals peace. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are patient, and allow God to do what needs to be done. And, in fact, in the meantime, show mercy, for they,” he says, “will be shown mercy.” That God will give to us the same goodness that we give to others, even if they don’t deserve it. He say’s “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

The sixth thing that we’re told that God hates in Proverbs 6 is a false witness who pours out lies. And that was the one that I said, it’s based on the Hebrew word for mouths. He says, “God hates a false witness who mouths out lies.” And we didn’t do a separate message on that one. And the reason we didn’t was at the very beginning of this series, we said, “God says there’s seven things that he hates, but six that are detestable.” And the reason you have that six, seven thing is because he actually talks about lying twice. And so we covered that in the first message, I didn’t do a separate message for a false witness. But I think it’s important to understand there’s just one small difference between a lying tongue and a false witness.

A lying tongue does its work anywhere, but a false witness does its work in a court of law. And in the ancient context what that meant was that this person isn’t on trial, but somebody else is on trial, somebody innocent is on trial, and a false witness comes and they make up things to see that that person gets punished, to see their harm comes to that person. And the question you wanna ask is, like, why? Why would they be willing to speak lies to see harm come to a person? Well, you know, we might look, for example, to the false witnesses who appeared at Jesus’s trial. When his enemies put him in front of the Jewish court, they couldn’t find anything that he’d done wrong, they couldn’t find anything that they could actually punish him for, so they brought in false witnesses and they made up lies. They made up things that he’d never said or done. And it was on the basis of that that he was ultimately condemned.

What kind of a person goes into a court of law and then lies to see an innocent person condemned? And the answer is a person whose heart is filled with something awful, right? It’s a person whose heart is filled with envy or with greed, a person whose heart is filled with hatred. And it’s interesting, Jesus said this, he said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” That what comes out of our mouths, that what we breathe out, that what we mouth is actually a reflection of what our hearts filled up. It’s an overflow. And so, we’re told that God hates a false witness who mouths lies. But the reason is because, ultimately, it betrays the reality of their horrible things in their heart.

Jesus says, “But blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” Blessed are those whose hearts are filled, not with horrible things, but with good things. And what’s the very best thing for a heart to be filled with? Love, right. And what happens when your heart is filled with love? What comes out of your mouth? What comes out of your mouth is truth. A pure heart filled with love speaks truth with love. And that produces peace. We talked about that several weeks ago, we said that love without truth is very weak. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Truth without love is a weapon. But truth with love is a powerful force for good. And ultimately, it produces peace in a relationship with God. And it produces peace, long-term peace in our relationships with others. So a heart, a pure heart filled with love overflows in truth with love, and that leads to peace.

And then finally, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called children of God. And the seventh thing on the list of things that God hates in Proverbs 7 is a person who stirs up conflict in the community, the exact mirror opposite of a peacemaker. And if you’re listening to this, and you’re going “Wow, there are a lot of parallels between the seven things God hates, and flipping them on their head, the seven things that God loves. I wonder if that’s a coincidence?” Probably not. I think Jesus actually had Proverbs 6:16-19 in mind when he gave us these seven things that he loves. And if that’s true, then this last one, peacemakers, it’s not just another item on the list, it’s the culmination of the list. It’s all the other things coming together to enable us to be this kind of person, a person who makes peace, who spreads peace instead of conflict.

In other words, kind of the whole series comes together. Now we’re given one truth that ties it all up in one nice bow. And here it is, it’s that we become peacemakers by practicing humility, honesty, compassion, righteousness, patient mercy, and speaking the truth with love. That’s how we become peacemakers by practicing each and every one of those things. So let me just ask for an honest question. If you’re online, please type in the chat window if this is true of you. How many feel like that is an overwhelming list? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it is.

So here’s what we’re gonna do. As we wrap up the series, I wanna ask you to ask yourself one question. And this is the question, “Which one of those, which one needs the most work in my life? And what will I do about it?” Which one of those, you could look and go, “Man, that needs the most.”? There’s one probably that jumps out at you, the Holy Spirit is moving in your life right now and saying, “That’s where you need to start.” Maybe it’s all the way back to the beginning, maybe it’s all the way back with humility. Or maybe it’s a little farther down there. But there’s one, I promise you, the Holy Spirit’s gonna go, “That’s where you need to lean in.”

And the end result is you’ll take a step further in becoming a person who doesn’t only experience his peace with God and with others, but who actually makes peace, rather than stirring up conflict. If you wonder what you need to do in order to lean into that thing, well, let me give you a couple of things. Number one, go back and listen to the teaching from each of these messages. Because in each one of those things, we leaned into what it looks like to pursue each of these particular things. The other thing you can do this, though, is look to Jesus. Because in Jesus, we see every single one of these played out perfectly, right? Was Jesus humble? We’re told that he humbled himself. By becoming a human being, but also he humbled himself even by death on a cross by being obedient to his Father, even to the point of death on the cross for us because of his love for us. That’s humility, right?

Was he honest? Absolutely. He didn’t have to be honest about any sin that he’d cause and the damage that it had done. But he always spoke the truth, even when it was costly to him to do so. I think of when they brought him into that trial and ultimately, they just couldn’t find what they needed, even with the false witnesses. And so, finally, they just said, “Hey, have you actually claimed to be the Son of God?” And Jesus said, “You said it,” which in ancient Hebrew basically translates to, “Dude, you nailed it. You got it. You understood. You got exactly what I was saying.” He said, “Yeah, I am the Son of God,” and they went, “That’s blasphemy. You have to die.” And he knew that was gonna be the result. But he always spoke the truth, even when it’s costly to do so.

Was he gentle? Was he compassionate? Consistently saw crowds. And we’re told that he had compassion on them as he went among them, and he healed them. And he comforted them. He was absolutely meek, and humble, and compassionate. Was he righteous? He said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees,” the Pharisees, probably the most devoted religious group you can imagine. They dotted their i’s and crossed all their t’s and following all the laws, and the rules, and the regulations. And Jesus says, “Unless you go way past them, you’re not gonna make it to heaven.”

But Jesus said that he offers us a righteousness that doesn’t come from following the rules and the regulations. He offers us righteousness that comes from faith. That when we trust in what he did on the cross for us, when we trust in his resurrection, he breathes new life into us through the power of the Holy Spirit, he begins to change us from the inside out, so we actually become a righteous kind of person we could never be in our own. He offered that to us. And then as he laid or as he hung on the cross dying, in order to accomplish that, there was a Roman soldier looking, and he heard Jesus say of his accusers, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” And this Roman centurion said, “Surely, this is a righteous man.” Yeah, absolutely. He was righteous.

Was he merciful? Yeah, he prayed for forgiveness for the very people that had nailed him to the cross. He died for them so that they could be forgiven of that wrong and every wrong so that they could be saved and have eternal life with God. Was he pure in heart? Did he speak the truth with love? He is the truth with love. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He didn’t just speak the truth of love. He is the truth of love. “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son Jesus, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” He is the truth with love.

And is he a peacemaker? He’s the peacemaker, right? He’s the only way to peace with God. And following his example is the only way that there will really be peace in our relationships, in our families, in our communities, at work, in the world. And he said this, he said, “Peace I give to you,” not as the world gives. He said, “Peace I give to you.” And ultimately, it’s a peace that the Bible says, passes understanding. It’s a peace that’s not rooted in our circumstances. It’s the result of the pursuit of godly character enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit who comes into our lives through faith in Jesus. That’s the only possibility of having this peace that Jesus came to make. And so, as we wrap up this series, a challenge to you is of all of these things that we’ve been given here, which one do you most need to lean into? Which one is God leading you to spend some time working on to move you forward in becoming a person of peace and a maker of peace? Would you pray with me?

God, I thank you for your Word in Proverbs here in Matthew 5, we thank you for your desire that we would experience peace. We confess to you that we’ve sought peace in so many different things that we understand cannot ultimately provide it. They can only provide some thin counterfeit of it that will fall apart the moment that our circumstances change. And yet, we recognize, Lord, and we’re grateful for the fact that you long for us to have a peace that passes understanding, a peace that comes as we become more like Jesus, a great and shining example and as we join him on mission in the world. Holy Spirit, we invite you to do your work in our hearts right now, to show us that one thing that you long for us most to lean into to work on, so that we become people of peace, so that we become ultimately peacemakers, able not only to experience it ourselves but to pass it on to others. To share with others the good news that they are loved by God, and that they too can have peace with God and peace with others. But peace made possible only by faith.

In fact, if you’re a follower of Jesus, would you just pray right now? Just join me in praying for those who are listening to this message who don’t have that peace with God. And if that’s you, and if at this moment you’ll be honest and you’ll recognize that you feel guilt, maybe you feel shame, maybe you feel the burden that comes because of the wrong that you’ve done. You know what that’s like and you’re longing for peace. I want you to know you can have it. Right here right now today, you can have peace with God that will last for all eternity.

God’s done everything necessary to give you that peace. He sent his own Son, Jesus, who died on the cross to pay for your sin. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. And Jesus offers us salvation. He offers us forgiveness. He offers his freedom from guilt and shame. And he offers his peace with God and ultimately with others, simply by trust, by faith. And if you’re ready to trust God for that peace you so desperately need, here’s what it looks like, just have this conversation with God in your heart right now, say this, say:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. And I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying to pay for my sin. That is the ultimate act of humility. I believe that you rose from the dead and I understand that you’re offering me forgiveness, you’re offering me peace with God. And I want it. So, Jesus, I’m putting my faith in you. I’m choosing to trust you. Jesus, I’m saying yes to following you starting today and for the rest of eternity. Amen.

Are you Human?:*