14 day plan

Family Peacemaking

Day 9 of 14


Matthew 5:23-24

23So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

Reflection:  If I must choose just one passage to illustrate what real peacemaking looks like, it’s this one.

It sounds simple but we know it’s not.  It’s a commitment to restoring damaged relationships and negotiating just agreements… and both are only possible on a foundation of forgiveness – forgiving others as Jesus has forgiven us and seeking solutions that satisfy other’s interests as well as our own.

Even though Christians are the most forgiven people in the world, we know how difficult it is to forgive others genuinely and completely. Most of us deeply understand the need for forgiveness. Almost innately we know it is desperately important but many of us struggle to offer it to those who have hurt us. As CS Lewis says, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.”

There’s a story told about a traveler making his way through a jungle. He comes to a shallow river and wades through but when he comes out, he is covered in leeches.  His first instinct is to pull them off, but his guide stops him, warning him that pulling the leeches off will leave tiny pieces under the skin and infection will set in. He explains that the best way to get rid of the leeches is to soak them off in a warm bath when the leeches will release their hold and drop off.

So, it is when we’ve been significant injured by someone. We can’t simply hope to yank the injury from ourselves and expect all bitterness and emotion to be gone.  The only way I know to become truly free of the offense is to first soak in God’s forgiveness for us. And when we’ve done that and finally and fully understand the extent of God’s love in Jesus for us, forgiving others is the only choice. I didn’t say it’s an easy choice, but it is the required and necessary one.

Question:  Do you know that you are (or can be) completely forgiven by our God? Do you choose to completely forgive those you have injured you? Why, or why not?

Prayer: Gracious God, I have sinned against you and against _______. Forgive me I pray. As you drench me in your forgiveness, I pray that this might spill over into my relationships, that I might truly forgive those who have hurt me as you have forgiven me. Amen.

Matthew 5:1-48

The Sermon on the Mount

1When he saw the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to teach them, saying:

The Beatitudes

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

4Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5Blessed are the humble,

for they will inherit the earth.

6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

11“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. 12Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Believers Are Salt and Light

13“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Christ Fulfills the Law

17“Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

Murder Begins in the Heart

21“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. 22But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Whoever insults his brother or sister, will be subject to the court. Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to hellfire. 23So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Reach a settlement quickly with your adversary while you’re on the way with him to the court, or your adversary will hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery Begins in the Heart

27“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce Practices Censured

31“It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. 32But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Tell the Truth

33“Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. 34But I tell you, don’t take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, because it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 36Do not swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.

Go the Second Mile

38“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love Your Enemies

43“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.