Peace Making vs Peace Keeping

The beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 are pretty self-explanatory, if very counter-intuitive. But there’s one in particular that’s often misunderstood. At least it was by me for a long time. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). But there’s a world of difference between peace making and peace keeping. I had them confused the majority of my life, and I’ve paid a high price for it.

When we mistakenly think Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace keepers…” we live by the ungodly principle of Peace At Any Price.

But wait a minute, I thought peace was a good thing! It is, that’s why peacemakers are blessed in the Kingdom and called sons of God. But Peace At Any Price is not a good thing at all. Peace At Any Price sacrifices the plan, wisdom, and calling of God to avoid conflict. It brings unity around a false peace. And false peace is not really peace at all – it’s oppression.

Peace making is bravely going into an interpersonal conflict and bringing the plan and the wisdom, not to mention the calling and the purpose, of God to it. If God’s wisdom is accepted, it brings true peace to the situation. However, if God’s wisdom is repeatedly rejected, then it’s time for godly conflict.

But peace keeping is quite different. Peace keeping is acquiescing to the situation. Peace keeping compromises (or outright silences) God’s plans and purposes. We trade God’s calling for peace in our interpersonal relationships. I confess I did this for a long time, and my family paid dearly for it.

By my observation, many husbands live by Peace At Any Price. It takes one to know one – I did for a long time. Too often we trade our vision for our family, and our place of leadership in our household, for peace in our home.

Now common sense here, that’s obviously not an excuse to lord it over your wife. And wives have a significant role and get valid downloads from God just like husbands do. But, c’mon guys, we need to be the spiritual leaders of our home, not our wives.

Peace At Any Price is institutionalized in the culture, even in the church, with regard to home and family. How many times have you heard people, even Christians, say one of these re-phrases of Peace At Any Price:

Happy wife, happy life. Translation: “Sell out your vision for your family in order to keep your wife happy.” Or you could say it this way: “Lack of conflict in your home is worth more than God’s calling on your family.” Sorry, but not true.

If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! Translation: “If I don’t get my way, I’ll make my entire family miserable!” This is hardly the manifestation of the Fruit of the Spirit in a godly woman’s life. Anybody out there still think this isn’t demonic?

Now please don’t flip out on me. This doesn’t mean a husband should just impose his vision on his family. It’s just as demonic for a husband to expect his wife to roll-over and practice Peace At Any Price. None of us, husband or wife, parent or child, teacher or student, should compromise or abandon what they know is God’s wisdom, calling, plan, and/or purpose on their lives or in any situation.

It comes down to this. Peace at Any Price, a.k.a., peace keeping, is just getting bullied, pure and simple. If you are living Peace At Any Price, you have let your God-given identity get shut down by a bully. You need to repent and stand up to the bully.

In a marriage, when we come out of being bullied, we don’t impose our calling on the other person. We don’t want to become the bully. Instead, we invite: “This is where God is calling me to go. I’m going there, and I’m inviting you to come along.” And we walk toward God’s calling on our life with an open hand back to the other person. They may take it or not; that’s on them. But we are walking toward our calling, and that brings true peace, in our heart if not to the situation.

Blessed are the peacemakers (not the peace keepers), for they will be called sons of God.

Does this hit home to you? Tell us your story in the comments? Are you living Peace At Any Price? Did you used to? How did you come out of it? Tell us in the comments, your story will help others. And if you think this article would bless someone else, please share it with the buttons below.

10 replies
  1. Charlene Mozee Harris
    Charlene Mozee Harris says:

    I just encountered this today in my home. I was taking care of a business transaction originated by my husband that required his attention which he did not want to give and his disgust showed immediately. I am the peacemaker so I tried to handle the situation but realized his response was not appropriate because it lacked consideration for me. I expressed my feelings and was told I was getting upset “for no reason” which was ridiculous to say but is his way to invalidate my feelings; indirectly “bullying” me out of valid emotions. This subject has helped me to know the difference allowing a valid response to situations like this.

    Reply
    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Thank you for the comment, Charlene! I always like hearing what you have to say. I’m glad the article proved helpful.

      Reply
  2. Randi
    Randi says:

    For me, as a single woman, I find myself “peacekeeping” rather than peacemaking when I refuse to face interpersonal problems — with family, friends, and others — until they explode. This has actually happened a couple of times recently. I ignored a bad feeling I was having about a person’s behavior, or about an uncomfortable situation, and when I was finally forced to deal with it … let’s just say it was a lot harder. On the other hand, I don’t want to play whack-a-mole with every little issue that comes up. Sometimes it’s hard to determine what’s worth confronting and what ought to be let go.

    Reply
    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Well said, Randi! Sometimes whether to confront a situation or or not is a tough call. Maybe you’re learning which of those ” bad feelings” is really Holy Spirit discernment. Although they can be painful, I love it in my own life when the Holy Spirit brings situations that force me to learn to hear him better.

      Reply
  3. Dana Greene
    Dana Greene says:

    If I had been a peace maker instead of a peace keeper 35 years ago my life would be slot different now. I have learned a lot by my mistake and hope to write a book in the future to help other women.

    Reply
  4. Kathie Abercrombie
    Kathie Abercrombie says:

    WOW, I can see where I have been peace keeping my entire marriage and can also see the negative effects of it. But if I didn’t, I don’t think my marriage would have lasted. I used to speak up in the very beginning but after being shot down, had doors closed on me with refusals to even talk about anything, I just “kept the peace” and suffered in my own pain.
    Since I have been a much more dedicated Christian and have a much closer relationship with the Lord Jesus, I can see where I am being constantly influenced to go in the wrong direction on decisions and intercepted from a course towards Jesus vs a course towards a worldly choice.
    I can tell you my husband has never been the spiritual leader/christian head of the household and has said aloud to others that I am the christian leader of the household “for now”. Well “for now” has and is forever in my eyes and leaves me with little hope of that changing. However, I keep praying and we do serve an awesome God.
    It is really hard though, to NOT keep the peace.

    Reply
    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Yeah, you really hit the nail on the head! It can be really hard to know where to draw the line. We are praying for you, Kathie. We’ve learned a trick from Graham Cooke. What would you say is the negative word that describes your situation? Then ask the Holy Spirit what’s the opposite of that. And that positive opposite is what God is wanting to work in your life right now in your situation. Focus on that. This approach to pain has done wonders for me.

      Reply

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