Saturday, January 24, 2009

Peacemaker or Problem-maker?

“But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and judge over us?”  (Acts 7:27)

         You should know by now that I have high regard for the peacemakers of this world. Not the ones who broker dishonorable peace, of course, but those who oil the wheels of compromise in minor disputes. Still, there can be a negative aspect to this noble endeavor, especially when it is allowed to run amuck into unwanted, unwarranted intervention. No one likes a buttinsky, no matter how noble his or her motivation may be. 

         In Acts seven, Deacon Stephen is giving his listeners a history lesson on the nation of Israel. (One that ended in his being stoned to death, by the way.) And in recounting the story of Moses, he shares how this man’s well-intentioned interference backfired on him (Exodus 2:11-14). The circumstances were certainly ideal for a peacemaker, but the man who rebuffed Moses was right; no one had made him a judge yet. Not until after his burning bush experience would Moses have a mandate from God, and, therefore, a right to intervene. To him, he was just another meddler and Moses ended up having to get out of Dodge quick!

         It’s so easy in the heat of the moment to jump in the middle of the fray to champion a cause or interject a solution; when, really, we have had no direction from God to do so. And in many cases, we end by doing more harm than good. It’s a short step over the line between being a peacemaker to becoming a problem-maker, and it often takes the restraining Spirit of God to stop us in our tracks…and, sometimes, not even then.

         Some of us who think we’re taking the bull by the horns are really taking a dog by the ears. (Proverbs 26:17)

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