Category Archives: Peace

Calvin on the Beatitudes (Part 2 – The Price of Peace)

“Blessed are those who are pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are those who make peace, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted on account of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” -Matthew 5:8-10

“Imagine a man who has been quarreling with everyone and who is impatient and reckless in everything he does. Yet, on hearing some commotion, he turns up and tries to calm things down. ‘Enough!’ he says, ‘Let’s have peace!’ Or supposing he comes upon a riot, he intervenes and cries: ‘Now then, stop all this fighting!’ What authority would such a man have when, one minute, he loses his temper and storms and rages, and the next he tries to make peace with those around him? Understand that, to be peacemakers, we must first and foremost be peaceable ourselves. What exactly do I mean? Remember what was earlier said about the meek: meekness is part of being peaceable. If we are patient, it will not be our fault if we do not live in harmony and peace with other men. Why else do men inflict such suffering on one another, and war among themselves, and fight like cats and dogs, if not because they are impatient? No one can bear to be wronged, and we are so addicted to self-interest that we demand instant satisfaction; if we do not get it, we immediately take off the gloves. Then come recrimination and hostility, which turn to mortal hatred and the wish to kill and murder, with no one being spared. That is how impatience prevents men from living peaceably together; that is why we consciously chafe and fret, and why each of us is devil to his neighbor. We must learn, then, to cultivate patience, and so to lay aside self-interest and reputation that we readily forgive the wrongs done to us. That, I believe, is how we can be peaceable.

For the rest, it is not enough for us to avoid giving people cause to injure or trouble us. We must do whatever we can to keep peace among ourselves. That is what we must do, even if it means suffering loss as a result or surrendering some of our rights. For peace should be so precious to us – God after all commends it – that nothing else should matter to us.

Imagine someone who takes care not to stir up trouble or annoy anybody, and who instead tries hard to please everyone: whether he is given a hard time or not; he will gently put up with many wrongs rather than make a fuss. Even so, we are bound to follow our Lord’s precept here, and strive for peace in every place. So it is not enough to refrain from violence, ill-will or injury to others: when someone is wrong, we must resist, when innocent people suffer affliction, we should support them as much as we can, bringing them help and relief. When we see two people at odds with each other, we should feel pity for two souls redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but who are in danger of perdition. We should grieve when victory goes to the devil, who is the prince of discord, and when God, who is the author of peace, is shut out. That thought should make us want to put an end to quarreling….We must not only be peaceable ourselves, but must also try as hard as we can to overcome hostility, to put out the fire once it is lit, and to avoid disputes of every kind.  Whenever we see people ready to yield to hatred, we should intervene early to set things right. We should not wait for Satan to win the day; we should get it first. That, briefly put, is what we must grasp.


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