Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Work (07/27/06)
- TITLE: How Do You Spell Forgiveness?
By Dolores Stohler
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I’ve worked with some wonderful people over the years but this article is not about them. I’m thinking of the ones who cause us real pain, those who tend to criticize and belittle us or go behind our backs and say unkind things that get back to us. Vicious gossip, maybe. If you’re like me, you tend to avoid people you don’t like or whom you know dislike you. But what if you have to work closely with them from day to day? We all know what the Bible says about that: “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) This may be one of the hardest things Jesus ever said.
Being human, I find it nearly impossible to love someone who has caused me pain. Years ago I worked for a woman I greatly admired--a Christian leader with a good deal of charm and administrative ability. She knew how to say the right things to build up the confidence of a shy young widow with three kids to support. (That was me.) I loved her and would have done anything for her. When my co-workers began to tell me that my boss was making unkind remarks about me behind my back, I didn’t believe them. And when I had to interview for a new job, I gave her as a reference feeling certain it would be a good one. It wasn’t! It was nasty and spiteful, as I later learned. I got the job anyway but, when I learned the truth about my former mentor, I was heartbroken.
For years I carried this hurt inside me until one day the Holy Spirit convicted me. “You’ve got to forgive her,” he urged. “Your Heavenly Father has forgiven you all your sins. Now it’s your turn to forgive someone who has sinned against you.” Well, I must confess that I needed to pray about this one, over and over again. The Lord helped me to forgive and then I searched my memory for others I may have neglected to forgive over the years. Forgiveness may be hard, but it’s certainly worth the effort to achieve peace of mind and assure your place in Heaven.
My daughter has a co-worker she found very hard to work with until recently. I’ll call her Anne but that isn’t her real name. Anne tended to be rather curt with her co-workers, finding fault with everything and insisting on doing things her own way. Then one day Anne received a call from her mother in another state. She broke down in tears and confessed to her co-workers that her mother had mental problems and she had a twin-sister who was retarded and not doing well on her own. She needed to take a break from her job and fly to their assistance. Well, what a difference it a simple confession can make. No one is judging her now and complaining about her bad attitude. When she returned from her trip, everyone rallied around offering their love and comfort. Now Anne is no longer a problem to work with.
So when we are tempted to judge our co-workers and complain about their conduct, let’s remember that God loves us unconditionally. Let us go and do likewise. How do you spell forgiveness? I spell it L O V E.
“You, then, why do you judge your brother?…for we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” (Romans 14:10 NIV)
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