What Gives Completeness to the Christian Character?
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).
What can help us fix the meaning of this seventh Beatitude, perhaps as much as anything else, is the link that exists between this beatitude and the one that immediately follows. In our previous articles, we have called attention to the fact that the Beatitudes are obviously grouped together in pairs.
Poverty of spirit is always accompanied by mourning, as is meekness or lowliness by hungering and thirsting after the righteousness of God.
Mercifulness toward men is united to purity of heart towards God, and peacemaking is coupled with being persecuted for righteousness sake. Thus verses 10-12 supply us with the key to verse 9.
By approaching the seventh Beatitude from each of the three separate viewpoints mentioned above, we arrive at the same conclusion. First, let us consider the marked contrast between the tasks that God assigned to His people under the Old Covenant and New Covenant respectively. After the giving of the Law, Israel was commanded to take up the sword and to conquer the land of Canaan, destroying the enemies of Jehovah. The risen Christ has given different orders to His Church. Throughout this Gospel dispensation, we are to go into all nations as heralds of the cross, seeking the reconciliation of those who by nature are at enmity with our Master.
Second, this grace of peacemaking supplements the six graces mentioned in the previous verses. Perhaps the fact that this is the seventh Beatitude indicates that it was our Lord's intent to teach that it is this attribute that gives completeness or wholeness to Christian character.
We must certainly conclude that it is an unspeakable privilege to be sent forth as ambassadors of peace. Furthermore, those who fancy themselves to be Christians, yet have no interest in the salvation of fellow sinners, are self-deceived. They possess a defective Christianity, and have no right to expect to share in the blessed inheritance of the children of God.
Third, there is a definite link between this matter of our being peacemakers and the persecution to which our Master alludes in verses 10-12. By mentioning these two aspects of Christian character and experience side by side in His discourse, Christ is teaching that the opposition encountered by His disciples in the path of duty is the result of their faithfulness in the service to which they have been called. Thus we may be certain that the peacemaking of our text refers primarily to our being instruments in God's hands for the purpose of reconciling to Him those who are actively engaged in warfare against Him (cf. John 15:17-27).