Forgiveness sparks strong responses in observers like almost nothing else. Some are inspired. Others are outraged. As I read these stories, I wondered to myself, would I forgive? Could I? I felt like I was being challenged to do something heroic. What a testimony to forgive such significant injustices. Just think of the way it would inspire countless others. But then it struck me. How often do I not forgive the small everyday offenses that life brings? Yet it is in how we handle the small, almost never public, challenges that we have the greatest opportunity to inspire, bless, and influence those close to us. They are watching, listening, and learning.
Don’t we all hate complainers? You know the type. Someone has always done something to them. They always have a story to tell. The world has done them wrong again. To hear them tell it, their life seems to have been wrecked because the waitress got their order wrong, the teenager cut them off in traffic, or someone broke in line in front of them at the movie theater. Then get two of these folks together, and just watch them attempt to outdo each other. It’s a battle to see who can prove to the other that “life has been more unfair to me.”
Before I go any further, let me state for the record, I can be that guy. I can be the one to find faults so easily in others but miss the obvious in my own life. It reminds me of the “board in your own eye” analogy in the Bible.
So, let’s get back to my earlier statement about inspiring those closest to us. Do you want to influence your kids or other family members on a deep and profound level? Do you want to push back against the blame game in your own family instead of fostering cynicism and selfishness? I believe demonstrating forgiveness towards those who offend us is the most direct path we can take towards this end.
I’m not telling you that you should forgive. That’s a different conversation. I’m just suggesting that by doing so you can change the course of your family life. I’m sure some of you are saying, “Yeah, but I’ve already created the ‘blame others’ culture with my kids. It’s too late.” Not so fast. Perhaps the mess you have made in the past will allow an attitude of forgiveness to shine even brighter in the future. Friends and family may be amazed, which is just another way of saying they will notice. I know I have a great opportunity. How about you?