TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Matthew 5:9
In a letter to Henry L. Sprague, then Governor Theodore Roosevelt quoted what he claimed to be a West African proverb writing, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” This would later become the trademark of his foreign policy as our 26th President.¹ The world we live in loves this kind of ideology. It promotes gentleness, as far as it serves us well. It also promises success to those who try diplomacy, but it can still pack a punch if it does not work. As believers in Jesus, does this thinking actually align with the words of Scripture? Should we promote peace in our world by soft speaking with a big stick handy “just in case”?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins with the Beatitudes, a list of those who God esteems for their behaviors and gives hope for the trials they face in the world. One of the groups Jesus specifically extols is the “peacemakers,” people who choose to be facilitators of peace in the world. What does it look like when people decide to be promoters of peace? It ranges from those who extend grace and mercy to folks who wrong them rather than “fighting it out” with them to those who simply refuse to intentionally do things that “stir the pot.” Whatever being a peacemaker looks like, Jesus makes an incredible observation about them: “They shall be called sons of God.” This should serve as a powerful motivation for us each day to do what promotes peace, regardless of what that means in the situation. The reality that Christians should face is that God’s children should be at peace because God is a peace-lover. God has no toleration for hatred in hearts, pride that divides, and deeds that damage. Rather, God loves hearts that abound in love, people who encourage unity, and deeds that do good. Our congregations, communities, country, and the world would all be better if we sought to be peacemakers in every situation we face.
Today I will…make decisions that promote peace for the benefit of others and myself. I will not be selfish with the peace I offer by my decisions and I will extend peace to others, whether they are friend or foe.