Peace in relationships is a part of our inheritance in Christ. To make and maintain peace in our hearts and with other people is an important mission and purpose God gave us. God says that those who make peace are His true sons. These are the ones that most faithfully reflect the character, and desire of God to reconcile the world with Himself. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Peace in relationships – starting with ourselves
Where do we start if we want to have peace in relationships so they can become more satisfying and harmonious? Very often we mistakenly think that the problem lies in the other person. Therefore we focus our attention entirely on provoking a change in the attitude and behavior of the other. However, God shows us another way and invites us to follow His example and imitate His ways of attitude and communication. The main question is not “how can I change the other person” but rather “how can I love him/her better?”
The path of peace begins with us, from the inner man, from the inner attitudes of our hearts. If we want to improve a relationship, we need to start with ourselves. This is because of the question of control and responsibility. It is important to understand that it is not our responsibility and control to change another person and to give up any form of control and manipulation. Our primary responsibility relates to our own personality and heart – thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices. The first step is to take responsibility for our own “property”. Regarding the other people, we are responsible to them, to love them as God loves us.
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Peace in relationships – right goals
The second step deals with the definition of goals and priorities related to our happiness. It is wrong to make someone else responsible for our happiness. The right and godly goals in relationships focus on us and our character, not on the character and behavior of other people. For example, the right goal is to become the best version of a mother, wife, friend, son, daughter, employee, colleague and so on, with God’s grace. This means to allow God to work out in us His character and nature. This goal can not be blocked by anyone other than ourselves. More than this, we are aligning our goals to God’s clearly expressed priorities in His word for character development.
Examples of wrong goals in relationships are goals that depend on the other person. For example, in marriage, the wife has the goal to change some of the husband’s habits. The mother has the goal that her children should have impeccable behavior and excellent success at school. The worker wants to have the approval of his boss. All these goals transfer responsibility to the other people, meaning to factors on which we have no control. These makes make them uncertain and unachievable.
From inside out
What happens when we decide to follow the path of peace and start with us? First of all, we are the ones who, with the power and grace of God, receive healing of soul wounds and traumas. When we allow God to renew our way of thinking, the attitude of our heart changes. The internal change expresses itself in new ways of communicating and relating. The change of attitudes and forms of communication opens the door to the heart of the other person and improves the relationship.
When we decide to follow God and take responsibility for our life and heart, God assumes the responsibility and control for the change in others. We are not able to change people, but God is able. He is a specialist in impossible situations, and He can save perfectly.
The fruits of peace
Since peace is primarily a condition of the heart, it is the first that enjoys the fruits of peace. Such are emotional freedom, confidence, calmness, optimism, hope, and closeness to God. Not only does our heart calms down and rests, but the peace of God begins to spread in all spheres of our lives. God blesses us by perfecting our faith and increasing our understanding and knowledge of Him and His ways. We begin to live in God’s rest, “in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places”. (Isaiah 32:18).
Secondly, the seeds of peace also bear fruit in the different kinds of relationships we have. Through God’s work and grace, the form and essence of relationships are changing. We begin to look at people through the prism of God’s mercy and acceptance. We stop looking at them as obstacles or as a means to the goal. Rather we begin to perceive them as human beings, with their specific needs, wounds, and problems. We learn how to meet needs and love in practice and in reality.
Thirdly, we often see a change in the people with whom we have relationships. The seeds of peace, and the perseverance in goodwill and benevolence, as well as in showing love and meeting needs, are a powerful tool in the hand of God to soften the human hearts and direct them to Him. When we follow the path of forgiveness and live the message of reconciliation, God even makes our enemies be at peace with us. (Proverbs 16:7)
In which relationships do you need to take responsibility for your heart? And which relationships do you enjoy already the fruit of peace? You are welcome to share and comment!