When we want what God wants and not what we want we are on our way to a peaceful life. As Christians, this is the first and most important pathway to peace and tranquility. This kind of inner peace can only happen when we earnestly seek what God wants us to do and more importantly what He wants us to be.
We fail for sure; more often than we should or want to fail. But God has given us a remedy for failure, it’s called forgiveness. We ask for forgiveness and get back on track, working to do everything we can to please God. As we set our feet firmly on this path we leave behind a whole lot of guilt, shame, and reproach. God replaces it with inward peace and confidence.
When we do what others want and not what we want we paradoxically find a peaceful way to live. This guidance is a head-scratcher and controversial for many reasons. It is also so hard to do because we want what we want! We have ideas about what is right and fair and it is easy to impose our ideas on others. We are afraid of being taken advantage of if we prefer others over ourselves. And we will be taken advantage of a times, it is expected. We are afraid that if we give others what they want we will sacrifice our own values.
It is possible to hold tightly to our moral and ethical values while doing everything we can to find a way to give others what they are seeking for in life. If we are taken advantage of, we should realize it is better to be taken advantage of than to take advantage of others. Getting our way usually comes down to a test of wills or we value our ideas too much. The conviction that it is better to be kind than to be right helps a lot. Knowing that our ideas about things is a moment in time that could change or evolve over our lifetime is also helpful.
Relationships thrive when we do everything possible to give others what they want while they are seeking a better life; preferring others over pleasing ourselves as the Scriptures encourage. When this path is taken marriages improve, friendships are rarely breached, family squabbles are put to rest and wounds are healed. Inner peace however is the grand prize; we have given ourselves up to others. The absence of striving and fighting with others and within ourselves, left only with an inward peace.
When we want less and not more we are following a narrow but peaceful path. There is so much anxiety and fear wrapped up in wanting, expecting and getting more. In every age; wealth, prestige and fame have been inordinately sought for and unfortunately sought for above all else. When this happens, and it often does, secret emptiness and unhealthy and sometimes cruel behavior towards others is the result.
Too infrequently, more is not a channel for providing for those we love and reaching out to help as many who are less resourceful. The Scriptures are clear this is the only God approved reason for more. If we get more and give more to those we love and to those in need we will have the peace that goes along with this. So more means nothing personally. It just gives us a margin to help others. So what’s the big deal? What’s the striving and stress about?
The peaceful and tranquil path is to do our best when it comes to money and material prosperity, and then let it go! Save what we can, make what we can, prepare for our success the best we can, work as smart and as hard as we can, then let it go: we are in God’s hands now! Worrying about the future will do little or nothing for us. Inward peace is the result of accepting what God has for us, receiving what He gives us, and freely giving what we have received!
This essay was partly inspired by The Imitations of Christ. The author Thomas A’Kempis when writing about Things Which Bring Great Peace wrote, Seek to do the will of others, rather than you own. Always choose less rather than more. Always wish and pray that the will of God be fully carried out in you”
Joseph C. Hutchison Rochester Hills, Michigan 2020
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