As we think about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we remember how following His example of forgiveness makes us better leaders.
Recently, the company that FaithSearch uses to conduct candidate background checks announced that they will no longer include arrests and non-convictions in their screening reports. While some may object to this change, claiming that the move could put employers at greater risk, it represents an important shift in thinking that is taking place more broadly today. People are hungry to see social norms and policies reflect greater tolerance and compassion, a desire that is inextricable from the message of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. When we yearn to see forgiveness championed and take steps to push it forward, we reflect the character of God, because God desires to see all people experience love and forgiveness through Him, regardless of their circumstance.
Jesus explains the godly perspective on forgiveness to Peter in the Gospel of Matthew. Peter comes to Jesus and asks how many times he must forgive brothers and sisters who sin against him. “Up to seven times?” he asks. Jesus gives an extreme reply: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV). Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is of utmost importance in the eyes of God, for the sake of the person receiving forgiveness as well as for the one extending it. Although justice has its place, love is to be our guiding principle, our token as we interact with one another.
Most of us are leaders in some sphere – our families, communities, churches, or places of work – what a gift it is then to have such a clear mandate from Christ about how we should act. Scripture may not tell us the best business strategy for the coming year or how exactly to resolve a tricky family dilemma, but it does tell us – it requires us – to extend forgiveness and grace as we make decisions. When we do this, we adopt a posture of obedience to God, trusting that His ways are right, and we demonstrate His character. And while God does not promise that practicing forgiveness is easy, when we choose to do it, we benefit ten-fold. The culture of our households, communities, churches, and workplaces changes for the better. Difficult situations are diffused, and injustices are put into perspective when we choose to forgive. Indeed, there are many instances where people regret not extending grace and compassion, but very, very few where they regret choosing to forgive.
Forgiveness is the bedrock of the cross, and so it should be the foundation of our thoughts, attitude, and actions, too. As believers at Easter, we celebrate the forgiveness that we have in Christ – the forgiveness that made reconciliation with God possible – and we are reminded to practice it more readily in the day-to-day. If forgiveness is powerful enough to bridge the divide between sin and sanctity, surely it will change our daily life, and the tenor of our leadership, for the better.