Forgiveness and Restoration

All throughout scripture, life and history, people are searching for meaning and restoration in their life. The question of forgiveness comes up through human relationships on a continuous basis. Leaders are surrounded by conflict that can easily lead to bitterness if left unresolved. The story of man in the Garden of Eden portrays a perfect beginning with God. Through sin, the relationship with God was severed and the need for redemption and forgiveness of sin entered man’s heart. Adam and Eve were created in a harmonious relationship with God and creation. God’s perfect standard of not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was broken by Adam and Eve’s decision. The severed relationship left a gap that can only be filled through an act of God.

The story of mankind began anew with the greatest need being the redemption back to God. This quote explains further, “To confess that God is triune is to affirm that the eternal life of God is personal life in relationship. The Bible speaks of God as “the living God”(Matt. 16:16). God is not like the dead idols who can neither speak nor act. God speaks and acts creatively, redemptively, transformativley.”[1] God promises his hope and redemption to man through the power of the cross. God’s plan is to draw men back to Himself through the forgiveness that is available through the cross and resurrection of Christ.

The definition of forgiveness in the Word Study Dictionary states, “To loose, loosen what is fast, bound, meaning to unbind, untie.”[2] Through life’s hardships and the damaging stain of sin upon mankind, there is a need of restoration. Jesus set an example of leading the disciples to forgive. Peter questions Jesus on forgiveness, “On one occasion Peter came to Jesus (on behalf of the disciples, no doubt) and asked how often he should forgive a brother who sinned against him: as many as seven times? Jesus’ reply to Peter which has been interpreted as “77 times” or “490 times,” indicates the persistent, relentless nature of the love that is to be characteristic of a follower of the Lord.”[3] The true definition of the measure of our forgiveness is equaled to the pardon of all of our sin on the cross. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.[4] Leaders must set the example by first realizing they have been forgiven of much and to set the standard of forgiving others. Gangel explains further, “the Christian leader’s behavior towards other people is determined by inner qualities. To put it another way, interpersonal relations on a horizontal plane arise from the impersonal relationship with God on a vertical plane.”[5] Forgiveness is not an option for a leader, but is a priority.

Leaders have to realize that conflict will arise through interpersonal relationships and situations. A wise leader knows how to suspect when conflict arises and find a solution. The need for resolution is, “A re-establishment of personal relations after a rupture.”[6] In order for this quote to be true, there must be an acceptance and ownership of faults. God’s forgiveness is seen through the acceptance that man’s sin was why Jesus had to be sacrificed on the cross. The precursor to understanding fully the forgiveness of God, there must be an acceptance of fault. Man is tainted with sin and is depraved and unable to help himself. In David Jeremiah’s book he explains more on depravity, “we would prefer to reserve such a term for child abusers, pornographers, and terrorists. But Paul shakes his head sadly and says none of us is righteous. No, not one.”[7] The truth is that the good news of the hope of forgiveness in Christ is only good if a leader understands what they are being forgiven from. The book explains further, “The only requirement comes in two supreme realizations: first, that we are totally contaminated; second, that we are totally forgiven only through the love and grace and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.[8] God ultimately is not just a manager that desires to isolate mankind with rules and regulations. God desires to be in right relationships as a person leads. Much is to be said of a leader’s lifestyle outside of the spotlight.

The most important aspect is of forgiveness is to understand it and apply it to leadership. Love and forgiveness, though not synonymous, are interrelated. Leaders must decide to make forgiveness a way of life in order to make peace with others. Forgiveness is impossible unless we allow love to control: "And over all these virtues [mercy, kindness, humility] put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity"[9]

God’s love is synonymous with His forgiveness for man. Leaders must be captivated by the continuing love and grace of God. This quote is excellent in explaining God’s love, “God’s love is his holy disposition toward all that he has created that compels him to express unconditional affection and selective correction to provide the highest quality of existence, both now and forever, for the object of his love.[10] The same principle applies to leadership and how a person treats the congregation. It is easy to lose sight of the need for encouragement and unconditional love for those who are in desperate need for guidance in today’s unforgiving culture. This quote by Walter Wright sums it up well, “Without forgiveness, we would never commit ourselves to the interdependent relationships of our communities. But forgiveness comes with the gift of leadership. It is the empowering side of accountability. And forgiveness flows from the heart of the leader’s relationship with God.”[11] God's forgiveness leads to restoration!

[1] Daniel L. Migliore. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991, 67).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: For a Deeper Understanding of the Word. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1992, 931).

[3] Millard J. Erickson. Christian Theology. Second edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker books, 1998, 323).

[4] The Holy Bible. New International Version.

[5] Gangel, Kenneth. Team Leadership in Christian Ministry. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1997).

[6] W. R. F. Browning, Forgiveness. (A Dictionary of the Bible. 1997).

[7] David Jeremiah. Captured by Grace: No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God. (Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2006, 32).

[8] David Jeremiah. Captured by Grace: No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God. (Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2006, 33).

[9] Colossians 3:14. The Holy Bible.

[10] Chip Ingram. God as He Longs For You to See Him. (Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2004, 181).

[11] Walter C. Wright, Relational Leadership, 2.