Have you ever felt like the relationships with your family, friends, colleagues at work, your church family, and yes even God, are falling apart and the more you do it seems to make it worse? You seem to be going in different directions, and the rift is getting wider. Trying to fix it creates more and more stress and anxiety. You keep working at it but it’s like you’re stuck in quicksand. Stop working so hard at it. Simplify and do it God’s way.
Sometimes we think we can function without ever addressing and finding closure to a conflict. Those conflicts may be with family, friend, or the people we work with everyday. Refusal to deal with them saps energy from us and hangs over us like a dark cloud.
This is from some of the research I did for this series;
I know a guy who, for whatever reason, has a pattern of broken relationships in his life. When a misunderstanding happens or someone is wounded, he makes little or no attempt to set things right. “It takes too much time and energy,” he says. “I just move on.” And he leaves a path of desolation in his wake.
If this guy were to tally the number of hours it has cost him over the years to avoid dealing with the relational wounds that have come his way (not to mention those he has dished out), he would find the opposite is true. It is much more time-efficient—and brings much greater peace of mind and satisfaction with life—to heal a relational rift rather than let it linger or avoid it altogether. We cannot live simplified lives without attending to broken relationships. - Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels
What’s the best way to deal with fractured relationship? Forgiveness. To forgive is to stop feeling anger toward someone or about something, to pardon them.
Why forgive? Because God, who is our example for how to forgive, does. He forgives and overlooks everything that we have done and do against Him, through Jesus, so that we can have eternal life and an eternal inheritance.
Micah 7:18 (NLT) 18 Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love.
Forgiveness is an act of the will and since God commands us to forgive we must make that choice. We must forgive even if the person who offended us doesn’t ask for or doesn’t even want forgiveness.
Matthew 5:44-45 (NLT) 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT) 14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Ephesians 4:32 (NLT) 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Matthew 18:21-22 (NLT) 21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
Jesus understood the cost of broken relationships. As He hung dying on the cross, Jesus asked for forgiveness for the very people who accused, convicted and were killing Him.
Luke 23:34 (NLT) 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
When we experience the forgiveness of our own sins then we can call on the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to choose to forgive.
Think about how a fractured relationship has complicated your life. Now think about how forgiveness can simplify it.
Here are the links to two posts I wrote that will help you in forgiving others. What Does the Bible Say, Does Forgiving Mean Forgetting?, The Bible Says that Forgiveness is Mandatory
Strengthen The Right Relationships
Life is too rich with opportunity to walk it alone.
Proverbs 13:20 (NLT) 20 Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.
What Solomon said is absolutely true. When we surround ourselves with foolish people, we become like them. No matter how strong you are, people who are prideful, dishonest, mean-spirited, and divisive will influence you, and affect your spiritual growth. In our relationships both good and bad rub off. Just as the bad rubs off when we surround ourselves with proud, dishonest people, when we surround ourselves with wise, mature, people of integrity, their high character rubs off on us.
Real friends know, accept, love, serve, and celebrate one another. We often settle for friendships that don’t meet this standard. Our relationships require regular evaluation, and strengthening. This sometimes requires pruning or cutting off some relationships.
The apostle Paul gives us a list of the character traits we should look for when evaluating our relationships--people with the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Look for people who exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit.. Their character will rub off on you. In order to identify people with the fruit of the Holy Spirit you need the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. If you don’t have Him I’ll tell you how you can get Him later in this post.
When you evaluate your relationships ask yourself these questions. What qualities do you most value in your friends and why? How does your current inner circle of friends reflect these qualities?
You’ll simplify your life when you evaluate and fine-tune your relationships. Prune wisely and with determination. When you prune, as with a plant, this creates space for new growth in relational, spiritual, and emotional fruit.
The Holy Spirit is Essential in Simplifying Your Life
Earlier in this post I wrote that the only way that you can forgive some things is through the power of the Holy Spirit. I also wrote that the best relationships are those formed with people who exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit then you don’t have the power to forgive the most hurtful things, and you don’t have the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the gift of God that comes to dwell in you when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Romans 8:11 (NLT) The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Timothy 1:14 (NLT) Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.
The first relationship you need to establish is the one with Jesus. If you want that relationship which will result in the Holy Spirit coming to live in, you here’s what you need to do;
Romans 10:9 (NLT) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Pray this prayer in all sincerity. It doesn’t matter where you are. You may be at you desk on your computer, or somewhere on your laptop, you may be reading this on your smartphone, or your tablet. It doesn’t matter just pray in all sincerity. Don’t just say it if you don’t really mean it, because if you do you will just be speaking words. But if you are tired of trying to change things in your own power, and are ready to turn your life over to the One who can make you a new creature with a renewed heart and mind pray;
“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”
If you truly understand and believe what you just prayed then these promises of eternal life apply to you. So do all the other promises that God has made to believers. To find out what they are and how they apply to you find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God my brother or sister.
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.