This week I shared with my team about Forgiveness.
I also made a book recommendation. I recommended The Traveler’s Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews.
I’ve enjoyed his books and this was the first of his that I read. Andy Andrews has a powerful personal story – one of tragedy and hardship. His parents both died when he was a young adult, and he ended up homeless and living under a pier in Orange Beach, Alabama. He began reading about the lives of great men and women and learned from their example, how to live a life of success. Now, years later he is a bestselling author and successful speaker.
One of the Seven Decisions that he discusses is what he calls “the compassionate decision.” This is the decision that says, “I will greet the day with a forgiving spirit.”
Unforgiveness leads to bitterness, which harms us more than those from whom we withhold our forgiveness. I’ve heard it said that, “bitterness is like drinking arsenic, and waiting for the other person to die.” It’s pointless, and it only hurts us.
Andrews reminds us that, “forgiveness only has value when it is given away.” When we forgive others, we free ourselves from the prison of bitterness. We can let go, and be free. Too often, those who’ve offended us have long forgotten the offense, while we may have harbored a grudge for a long time. Holding grudges is hard work, and it uses up valuable energy that could be directed toward productive pursuits.
We must forgive, even when others do not ask for our forgiveness.
Andrews also reminds us that we must forgive ourselves. We cannot move forward in life if we hold on to past mistakes. We must bury those past mistakes and look to the future. He encourages readers with these words, “From this day forward, my history will cease to control my destiny.”
This is what forgiveness is about: wrongs are recognized, and they are overlooked — put away and never brought up again. As believers in Jesus, this is our great hope! Our God knows our wrongs; our faults and our failings. He knows them, yet because of the work of Christ on the cross, the penalties for those wrongs is paid. When we choose to appropriate the forgiveness that He offers, we can live a life free of the baggage and bondage of our past. We get a fresh start.
That’s what makes forgiveness so great, and that’s what we ought to pass on to others–the chance for a fresh start. And it comes through forgiveness.