By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
Any man or woman desiring to be a leader like Jesus must be a forgiving person because Jesus has a radical willingness to forgive. To the woman caught in adultery, He said: "Has no one condemned you? . . . Neither do I condemn you" (John 8:10-11); to the paralytic: "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven" (Matthew 9:2); and in response to the soldiers who beat Him, to the Jewish leaders who handed Him up to be crucified, and to the crowds who mocked and spat on Him, He offered this prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
Unlike Jesus, we are unable to offer forgiveness from a place of complete righteousness. The forgiveness we can muster is that of one sinner to another. But as God's children, we ought to be people who understand the power of true forgiveness.
In 1 John 2:1, the apostle John writes, "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One." This verse expresses God's will for His people at all times: don't sin. But if anyone does sin, there is a remedy. There is grace. There is forgiveness. It comes through Jesus the righteous, our advocate before the Father.
That is the principle of forgiveness. God opposes sin. He hates sin. He wants to root sin out of our lives. But God knows our fallen nature, and He makes a way for us to be reconciled to Him when we sin.
As leaders following the leadership style of Jesus, opposing sin in our lives and the lives of those who follow us is a must. Yet we must offer forgiveness and a pathway to mend the relationship and restore the sinner to a place of usefulness and wholeness.
How would you rate yourself on your willingness to forgive others when they hurt you? Take stock of anyone you have been unwilling to forgive. Do not minimize what they have done. Rather, in light of what Jesus has done for you, ask God to help you release them from their debt.
Prayer: Lord, Your forgiveness in my life is a miracle. Transform my heart to demonstrate Your forgiveness to those who have wronged me. I release them to You and ask that You would heal the wounds I may have received from their actions. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15).