While every couple should pray for peace, peacemaking involves taking action. It is the consistent readiness to reconcile mutual differences by seeking to listen to, honor, and learn from your spouse. Peace is the oil that makes the engine of your marriage run smoothly in spite of your differences, even during times of suffering. Peacemaking is the foundation for unity, which, in our view, is the key to lasting satisfaction, joy, and intimacy in marriage. But it doesn’t just happen automatically. You and your spouse must each strive to be a peacemaker, seeking common ground and mutual benefit rather than becoming entrenched in your own agendas or selfish desires. As it says in Scripture, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife” (Prov. 17:1).
Pride vs. Peace
Your marriage can survive if one of you takes on the role of peacemaker, but it will only thrive when you and your spouse each purpose to become a peacemaker. And this will require you to individually ask God to deal with the stubborn pride that consistently confronts your very human tendency to act on your natural motivations of selfishness and pride. Our flesh wants to protect itself. We recoil or lash out when we are hurt, disappointed, rejected, offended, disrespected, neglected, treated unjustly, or ignored. Scripture identifies the real root issues underlying arguments in marriage with laser-like accuracy:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:1–3 ESV)
The more prideful we are, the more we are being conformed into the image of Satan, the ultimate example of arrogance and selfishness. But the more we choose humility, the more we are being conformed into the image of Jesus, our ultimate example of humility and selflessness. Peacemaking can be practiced in the following ways: being the first to apologize, choosing healing words, learning each other’s love language, resolving misunderstandings and differences of opinion, and learning to treat each other as friends rather than enemies. When you learn to act as a peacemaker in your relationship, Satan’s attempts to destroy your marriage will be thwarted. When you and your spouse actively choose to make peace, forgiving each other for your mistakes, you safeguard your marriage against Satan’s attacks. He cannot prevent you from experiencing the advantages of working together in unity unless you are unwilling to forgive each other; it is as simple as that.
Building a Foundation of Peace
You cannot build on a foundation of conflict; you can only build on a foundation of peace. God wants your marriage to flourish, but that will begin only when you each surrender your desire to lash out, argue, and fight. We need to be personally experiencing the peace of God (Phil. 4:7) to have a supply of God’s love when we are besieged by conflict. Be sure to spend time in prayer and reading the Scripture to prepare your own heart for the attacks that will surface. The more you are experiencing the peace of God, the more those around you will also experience it.
When you surrender this, your heart will be conformed to God’s image because He is a God of peace. Remember the words from Galatians: “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (5:14–15); and, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (5:22–23).
About the Author
CHUCK BENTLEY is a graduate of Baylor University and the CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. He has traveled throughout the world teaching biblical financial principles to the affluent, middle class, poor, and ultra poor. He is the author of four books, including his most recent: The Worst Financial Mistakes in the Bible, And How You Can Avoid Them. He is also executive director of the God Provides Film Learning Experience. These films are now in thirty languages with the potential to reach two billion oral and visual learners. Chuck and his wife, Ann, have been married since 1978 and have four sons and four grandchildren.