Let’s talk about forgiveness.

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” (C.S. Lewis)

It’s true that forgiveness is much easier in theory than in practice, but the failure to practice hurts all involved, including ourselves.

An unhealthy lifestyle

Some years ago a study was performed at Hope College in which volunteers were asked to remember wrongs they had experienced. In each case, the person’s blood pressure and heart rate increased, and muscle tension was shown to be higher.

Lack of forgiveness also leads to emotional strain. Physician Don Colbert says, “One of the secret causes of stress plaguing millions of people is unforgiveness.”

That’s why Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

The challenge for leaders

The Biblical directive is as simple as it is challenging: Forgive one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

To be effective in what we do, to maintain balance in our personal lives, leaders must learn to forgive. We’ll certainly get plenty of opportunities. When they come our way, we need to be prepared to forgive fast, forgive first, and forgive often.

What forgiveness can do

Frederick Buechner summed up forgiveness with these words.

“When somebody you’ve wronged forgives you, you’re spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience.

“When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride.

“For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skin and to be glad in each other’s presence.”

A lovely idea, isn’t it?

Let’s take this lovely idea to the next level. Challenge yourself today to do the hard work of putting a past offense forever behind you, just as Christ has done for you.