How does a peacemaker know when to make peace?
When peace is disrupted by injustice, perceived or actual, then a peacemaker needs to become involved.
When peace is disturbed by unrighteous acts or attitudes, a peacemaker can do the work of God.
How does a peacemaker approach peacemaking when the time is right?
A. Talk to God
I find it crucial to talk to the Lord about what I’ve done or what people have done to me before I talk to them. It gives me perspective and tenderness. The Lord helps me see the deeper needs in the relationship and what has caused the problem. He, also, shows me my part, and often, my wrong words, behavior, or attitude that is hindering the reconciliation. Even if the other person is 95 percent in the wrong and I am only 5 percent in the wrong, I still have to confess my error. Then, I surrender the conflict to the Lord.
B. Take the first step
Jesus is real clear on this action. Jesus said, “So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). This, I believe, is the most ignored verse in the Bible. Later, Jesus said, “"If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother” (Matt. 18:15). You are to make the first move. Peacemakers take the initiative. “But,” you say, “Why should I go to the person when they are the one that hurt me.” Do you want the biblical answer? Because Jesus says so. Conflict is never resolved accidentally. That first step may be a letter, a phone call, or a visit. If someone has wrong you or you have wronged someone else, take action today. Your peace of mind and your Christian witness depends on your taking the first step. Happiness, God's and yours, awaits your action.
C. Tell the other person how you feel
When you take the first step and speak to the other person, before you speak, remember the words of Solomon and Paul. Solomon wrote, “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath” (Prov. 15:1). Paul wrote, “No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). Empathize with their feelings. Consider their situation. Attack the problem not the person. Clarify don’t confront. Cooperate as much as possible. Emphasize reconciliation not resolution. Reconciliation is more crucial than being right.
D. Stop talking about the people who have hurt you to other people
Nothing disqualifies us in being peacemakers more than talking about people rather than talking to them. The old Spanish proverb is correct: “Whoever gossips to you will gossip of you.” A peacemaker never says anything about another person that she or he has not first said to that person directly. After that, why tell anyone else?
No wonder a peacemaker is called a "son of God" since he reconciles people to God and restores relationships between people. A peacemaker is willing to disturb superficial peace order to restore the righteousness and justice that leads to true peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers!