Nine Traits of a Peacemaker

peaceIn Matthew 5:9 Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” A few verses later, Jesus instructs worshipers to leave their gifts at the altar in order to make peace with those who have something against them (5:21-26) and just a few verses later he tells us we should love our enemies and pray for those persecute us, that we might be like our father in heaven who provides the righteous and the unrighteous with sunshine and rain (5:43-45).

In short, God’s children are those who make peace. But what does that mean? James 3:13-18 gives a very clear answer. Read with me:

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

In this illuminating passage, James, who is writing to a church fractured with partiality, gives nine traits of the peacemaker. Beginning with verse 17, and couched in the language of heavenly wisdom, he gives us nine traits of a peacemaker. Continue reading

Gossip More: Because Gossiping Less Never Works

[This article was originally featured in our hometown newspaper, The Seymour Tribune].

Gossip.  It is a common disease—easily contracted, hard to cure.  Yet, the surprising solution is not to gossip less.  Just the opposite: You need to gossip more.

Let me explain.

You were made to gossip.  God gave you speech and a heart curiously intrigued by other people.  How else could talk radio, talk shows, and talking heads be so popular?  They scratch a human itch—the desire to be in the know and to talk with Gnostic wisdom about someone or something.

There is a kind of pleasure that comes from hearing something known to a select few.  We love secrets, and gossip is the pipeline for passing them, though every carbon copy erodes the secret.  Therefore, we want more.

Now, in steps the religious professional who says: The Bible condemns idle talk and God hates gossip.  Therefore, stop!  His premises are right.  God does condemn idle talk and hates any speech that tears down another.  However, knowing the law never changed anyone.

No, pernicious gossip that plagues the human race does not need to reduced or discontinued; it needs to be converted!  It needs a new object, a new secret to keep and then divulge.

Enter the gospel of grace. Nothing is more hidden and revealing than God.  No person is more intriguing than Jesus.  No secret is more fascinating than the news that sinners condemned to death have been declared innocent, set free, and rewarded because another has volunteered to take their place on the electric chair.

Indeed, evangelism is simply gossip about Jesus.  This is what happened in Samaria (John 4).  Jesus, a man of marriageable age, conversed with the town’s loosest woman at the local watering hole.  Talk about gossip!  This conversation surely evoked a few whispers.  Even more, when the woman raced off to tell her town about the man Jesus Christ, she participated in God-ordained gossip.

The result was amazing.  The whole curious town lined up to hear Jesus.  And many were saved.

Here is the point:  If you want to stop gossiping about things that will pollute your mind and shrink your soul, start gossiping about Jesus and the scandalous grace that he offers.  This will mean that you need to know him, but that is what he loves to share with all those who come curious about his secrets.

This week, don’t gossip less.  Gossip more about the only one worthy of such gossip!