“Show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.” This is part of a bigger definition. It wasn’t in a lexicon or dictionary. I discovered it in the Bible.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” Matthew 5:9 (MSG)
I knew this verse long before I attended a 20-hour seminar on mediation. But it took me awhile to realize the significance of it.
Of course, it’s always better if people can get along. No fighting or “nah-nahing” back and forth. Unfortunately, conflict has been with us since Adam and Eve were thrown out of Eden.
Since peace is such a prized commodity, you’d think the world would be filled with peacemakers. Sadly, it is not.
There are more people than ever in conflict every day, sometimes every moment of every day. What’s the deal? Where is all this anger and righteous indignation coming from?
I can tell you where it’s not coming from. Our Heavenly Father is always good, cannot be anything but good. So it’s not coming from him.
That’s something to think about right there. Even though we often see the line blur between right and wrong, God doesn’t see it that way. To Him, it’s either good or bad.
Peacemakers are good. Peace destroyers are bad.
You have probably seen enough shows along the lines of Judge Judy to know how this works. Let’s say that Gracie files suit against Misty over money that Gracie says Misty owes her.
They both agree to mediation to see if they can settle their case instead of going before the judge.
Gracie says that Misty agreed to help pay the rent if Gracie let her stay there for a few months.
Misty says that Gracie knew that she would not have the money to help pay the rent since she was still unemployed after months of looking for a job.
There’s all manner of anger going on here. Each is righteously indignant at where they find themselves.
Somebody is lying. Maybe both are lying. The truth is in there somewhere, too. It gets right confusing.
Both women are afraid. They fear being labeled weak or unreasonable. There is fear of the unknown. Fear that the outcome will be contrary to their position.
One way to peace is for one side to cave completely and abandon their position.
Another way is for each side to give a little until an agreement can be reached that everyone can live with.
The “give a little” part is the hard part. No one wants to appear weak or throw away a chance to get even with the other party.
In my mind, the one who agrees to change her position first is the bravest person in the room.
It’s an act of faith, really. Faith that she will not appear weak. Faith that, even though the other side may not agree, she is trying to find a resolution.
Jesus called people to be at peace with one another. Because He proclaimed this reference to those who make peace, we know it is important to us as Christians.
And it’s important to see that Jesus’ definition of peacemaking requires forgiveness.
Oh, how we yearn for revenge! Our culture tells us that there is always someone somewhere who is to blame for our misfortunes. We have been wronged and revenge will solve the whole thing.
But how can we forgive if we’re constantly seeking retribution?
I love this quote of Gandhi: "An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind."
Consider what would happen in our court scenario if forgiveness was part of the picture. Gracie could have forgiven Misty and never brought the suit in the first place. Misty could have forgiven Gracie for dragging her to court.
That’s not to say that Gracie should continue to let Misty stay. Forgiveness never involves becoming a door mat.
No, what forgiveness involves is a heart that is able to forgive and go on, not constantly reviewing the wrong done to it.
Forgiveness involves Christ our Savior each and every time.