"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matt. 6:12)
Why does God want us to forgive anyway? Today's article will summarize this for you. As you'll recall from the previous articles on this series of forgiveness, it is absolutely critical to learn the process of forgiving so you can get to a deep, intimate relationship with God that so many of us crave. For past articles in this series, simply click HERE. Let's move on to the last and final point about forgiveness, the end-goal of our efforts -- moving on towards peace.
7. Moving towards a life of peace.
Moving on is the final step of true forgiveness. This is the step in the forgiveness process where most people will need to have constant discussions with God about moving forward with life. The result of forgiveness is peace, which can only be experienced when you truly move on. You will know you're there because you are no longer plagued by wounds, guilt, and pain about the situation or person.
The end-goal of forgiveness is that your life would be at peace. However, what this really means is that you must start building peace in your life even when you are still not done with the wounds, guilt, and pain. Peace is the combination of harmony with others, order in your personal and relational life, and calm reaction to the events of life. I find that I need to constantly have a dialogue with God about these issues so that my forgiveness is not jeopardized by my lack of feeling peace. Forgiveness is an action, sometimes a repetitive one, that can eventually lead to feelings of peace, harmony, and calm -- not the other way around. You don't get feelings of peace so you can forgive. You forgive so you can get feelings of peace.
So how can you work towards peace? Use these spiritual exercises to stretch your mind and actions toward peace.
Work towards Harmony with Others
Ask yourself, What would I have to do to live in harmony with this person that I am, right now, at war with? What actions do I need to take or not take? How can God help me see this person in a new way? What do I need to release this person (or myself) from? Is a letter of apology needed? If the answer is doable and does not involve immorality, illegality, or a loss of personhood, then have a long discussion with God about whether He wants you to move into a new harmony with this person or if there is even to be a relationship with that person.
Establish Order in Your Personal and Relational Life
Too many of us allow the wreckage of the past to remain in our life by not cleaning up the mess or changing the routines that have developed because of the damage. Ask yourself, "If I were to bring order to my life, so it is less chaotic and arbitrary, what would I need to do?" Start a new habit or routine, and build a life based upon order, schedule, discipline, and a clearance of the clutter. Remove the clutter of the past, or ask someone to help you if you can't do it alone. It is often impossible to move on until the clutter is gone. What would it take to get there?
Practice Calm Reactions to Events and Circumstances in Your Life
"What types of calm are needed in your life from you, from others, or from your environment in order for you to bring peace to your life?"These are very essential because we will change over time and the events and people that enter our life will change us. If your children must behave in a new way or at a new level, then look how that can happen. If your spouse needs to be sensitive in new ways, then have those discussions about what that looks like. If all of a sudden, new activities sound interesting, then explore them (as long as they are not immoral or lead to immorality). If your career must be different because of what you have been through, then don't just try and soldier on because you always have in the past. Start outlining what type of career changes you would need to make for life to work in your new reality. Don't just keep doing something after it is clear that it is not emotionally working. What would you need to add to your schedule? What would you need to eliminate from your schedule? What people do you need to add or let go of or change the dynamic in some way?
All of these things are subjects to discuss with God in your moving forward towards peace. Remember, peace is the goal of forgiveness. God has told us that the fruit of the Spirit is Peace (Gal. 5:22-23), so our lives need to be constantly moving toward a reflection of the harmony, order, and calm that comes from the Holy Spirit. Yes, there will be times when you find yourself attacked by bitterness, guilt, condemnation, and anger, but these feelings don't have to hijack your journey towards forgiveness and peace. These are the times when you need to have that dialogue with God. Bring them to Him and allow the Holy Spirit remind you of what the scriptures say in Philippians 4:8—
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things.
God can help bring these to mind so you can continue moving forward with your journey toward peace. What things have worked for you to help you work towards a life of peace? Let me know by reaching out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
P.S. Get Breakfast with Solomon, a daily wisdom journey through the Proverbs, by signing up HERE!
The Fruit of the Spirit explained simply and with relevance for today.
Find out what God is asking from you when He tells you to "be loving" or "practice joy" or "be peaceful," and so on to the people in your life. Get ready to experience life change, deeper relationships, greater success, and more joy. You won't want to miss this one! This book comes with video commentaries from Dr. Gil that accompany each chapter, easily accessible from your smart phone or electronic device.