1. Recognize where there is a problem.
They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:14)
There were people then, as there are now, people who made a living saying, “Peace, peace, even when there is no peace.” They tell people what they want to hear. So the wounds of the people are dressed lightly.
We might say they “put a sticking plaster over a septic wound.” Everyone knows that can only make the problem worse.
Making peace does not mean avoiding conflict. It’s not pretending that everything is ok. It’s not “anything for a quiet life.” A conflict avoided is often conflict postponed.
When God makes peace with a person, He begins by wakening that person up to the fact that there is a problem that needs to be faced. The honesty that says, “Well, there’s a problem here,” is the kind of honesty that leads to peacemaking.
2. Deal with conflict early.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14)
This makes me think about being at camp as a child with a group of other kids. We gathered rocks to build a dam in the stream, so that we could create a pool of water to swim in.
You know what it’s like: You build the dam, and then you get a pool of water backing up—success! You notice a little trickle of water that comes through the dam. If you don’t plug that hole, the trickle will become a cascade. The water will move the rocks and all your work will be lost.
That’s the picture here: The beginning of strife is like letting out water—the beginning of strife!
Think about this: every broken marriage had a point where the strife began! The first harsh word, the first wound, the first moment of distrust. You didn’t see it at the time, but the end was in the beginning.
You look back and you say, “If I could go back to that moment and change what happened then, I might be in a different place today.” But you can’t go back!
So here’s what we learn: Deal with conflict early. Don’t let small things fester. Don’t let it take root, because if you do, it will grow.
3. Practice restraint, especially with your tongue.
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19)
Peacemakers practice restraint. At times when you could unload, if you are a peacemaker, you will hold back. This is surely one of the most obvious tactics and one of the most important.
What is the leading idol in our culture? “I must say what I think! I must say what I feel!” Really? Do you really have to? When you hear that, sometimes the right answer is to say, “What would happen if you didn’t?”
If you want to be a peacemaker, learn to practice restraint. Even in honest confrontation, you don’t need to unload everything. If you are a peacemaker, you won’t!
If God unloaded, all at one time, every way in which you and I had wronged Him, we would never recover! In God’s grace, He shows us our sins slowly. So why would you want to do that to someone else?
Practice restraint, especially in relation to the tongue. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Very rarely have I had reason to regret staying silent. But too often I’ve had reason to regret something I said.
4. Prepare for a long journey.
Seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:11)
The word “seek” tells us that sometimes peace will not be easy to find. The word “pursue” means that the path of peace may be a long journey. Peacemaking is a process, not an event.
Where there are deep wounds, the path to peace may not be quick or easy. If you want to be a peacemaker, be prepared for a long journey. God speaks about making peace with those who are “far off” (Ephesians 2:13).
Think about the length of the journey it took for God to be at peace with you! Where did the problem begin? How did you become alienated from God and at enmity with Him? Was it the first time you did something wrong? Of course not—the problem goes much further back than that.
Where does it go back to? Some people say that their problems go back to their parents. That may be true, but it doesn’t go far enough.
The Root of All Your Problems:
The Bible goes further: The real root of all your problems, and especially your alienation from God, goes all the way back to your first parents who sinned in the Garden, got themselves thrown out, and then passed on the impulse to sin all the way down to you.
You were born into a world that is hostile to God, and that hostility was in you by nature. You were born alienated from God. That’s in your DNA, until God makes you a new creation.
The process of God making peace with you was a long journey. It goes back to the beginning of time. It took all the promises of the Old Testament, all the work of redeeming Israel, and all the ministry of sending the prophets.
It took the coming of Christ for you to have peace with God. It took 33 years of perfectly fulfilling all that God requires of you. It took his atoning death as the sacrifice for your sins. It took his rising from the dead, and his ascending into heaven, and even then it was not done.
It took the sending of the Holy Spirit, who awakened you to your need of Christ, and caused you to be born again. He applied the full effect of the cleansing blood of Jesus to your life, moving you from a state of condemnation into the blessing of life as an adopted child of God!
That is a long, long journey! God has been relentless, over the centuries, in pursuing peace with you.
5. Take a step toward peace.
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. (Romans 12:20)
The longest journey begins with a first step. When peace seems a long way off, think about what might be one small step in the right direction. What could I do that would be well received by the other person?
Is there an act of kindness I can show, an evidence of goodwill I can display? What would be one step that would make this better, one step that might make another step possible?
I’ve been reading the story of the Cuban missile crisis. The world was on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. Two mighty nations were standing toe-to-toe, ready to unleash enormous nuclear arsenals to unimaginable destruction. It remains the most dangerous moment in world history ever.
The key question at the heart of the Cuban missile crisis was simple: What could be done to begin a process of de-escalation? What would be one step that might ease the tension and allow the other side to respond by taking another step back from the brink of mutual destruction?
Will you look this week for one step that might make a counter-step, however small, possible?
Continue reading these ten tactics.