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Four Steps to Forgiveness at Work
William Nix

Step 1: See Others from God’s Perspective

The first step to forgiveness is seeing your coworkers from God’s perspective. Take your eyes off the offender and look up to the Savior. Jesus sees each of us as eternally significant beings with brilliant potential. God’s vantage point teaches that we have all sinned and that we are all helpless without the blood of Christ.

This admonition to look through godly lenses is tough when a fellow laborer steps on us to get ahead. Looking around our workplace with godly eyes is difficult if we have been displaced for no good reason. Yet over and over we see how Christ responded to the scorn of others with compassion and forgiveness. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).

You may work with people whose lives are defined in that verse – helpless and harassed, sheep without a shepherd, aimlessly meandering from one day to the next. It is little wonder that many of your coworkers suffer from debilitating anger, an unforgiving spirit, and a me-first attitude.

It is for these souls that we seek to capture our workplaces for Christ. Our human perspective on the person at the next desk or in the next office or on the next line is not good enough. We must seek the perfect perspective, the forgiving perspective of the Creator of us all.

Gaining a godly perspective comes as a result of the discipline of prayer. Christ instructs us to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Do we pray to inform God of someone’s misconduct so He can wipe them out? Of course not. We pray so God will change us and hone us more to His image.

Intelligence agencies use satellites to transmit messages and images around the world. A message may be sent from Washington to Moscow via satellite. Imagine a drawing of the process. A line would run between the sender and the satellite resulting in another line between the satellite and the receiver. The message is sent in English, but it is received in Russian.

Prayer is our spiritual satellite system. We voice our concerns, fears, apologies, and requests to God, and He beams back His perspective and will for us. God will take our finite, human perspective on another’s life and miraculously transform it into a Christ-honoring, selfless, forgiving spirit. Through prayer we gain God’s perspective.

Step 2: Leave the Offense at the Cross

Prayer also carries us back to the Cross. It allows us to leave the offense at the Cross, once and for all.

Have you been the victim of a coworker’s mistake? Have you said to yourself, “Every dog has his day. My day is coming.” That is the easy response. The Bible describes a different response: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). What is you pain compared to the pain Christ endured on your behalf?

When Christ died on that cross, He created a lasting reminder of His loving forgiveness. If you are harboring the pain of a past wound, make a trip to the “dump for damaged feelings.” Make a prayerful deposit, then put the memory out of your mind. Enjoy the peace and the joy.

Step 3: Operate Out of Your Will and Reason

The third step to responding with godly forgiveness is to operate out of your will and reason, not out of your emotions. After you have gained God’s perspective and left the burden of your error at the Cross, then, with a reasonable heart, meet to discuss the error and the future.

The prophet Isaiah communicated to the people of Judah and Jerusalem God’s dissatisfaction with their behavior. He related the wages of their sin and then announced a marvelous offer from God: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord” (Isa. 1:18). God asked the failing people of Judah and Jerusalem to come and talk about the situation rationally and with cool heads.

God had given humans a special ability to reason that distinguishes us from other creatures. But in the jungle of commerce we sometimes act like animals. Like the territorial lion, we quickly dispose of coworkers whose actions annoy us. With lightning speed we unleash our anger on the very ones in need of forgiveness.

In your Judah-like job locale you may have experienced the quick hand of a boss responding angrily, not reasonably. Maybe a coworker told a lie about you. These people need your forgiveness. Follow the instruction found in Isaiah and slow down. Calm down. Do not rush to judgment. Pray. Meet and discuss the conflict. Listen and reason. Forgive.

Step 4: Rebuild and Restore

Restoration and rebuilding is what Christ is all about. He wastes neither anything nor anyone. Imagine the hurt you would feel if one of your closest friends betrayed you. Would you try to restore and rebuild your relationship with you betrayer? During the biggest crisis of Jesus’ earthly life, Simon Peter denied know the Savior. Did Jesus brood and hold a grudge? Did He exact vengeance on His fallen friend? No. Christ rose from the grave and embrace Peter. Jesus forgave His friend, and a hurting Simon Peter was rebuilt and restored.

Transforming your company for Christ can be a difficult task. It is possible only if you will humble yourself and seek and offer forgiveness. We must slow down and reason with godly wisdom. Seeing others from God’s perspective, we should take our pain and the pain of others and leave it behind us at the Cross. Then we should look to the future as eternal builders and restore our broken relationships.

Take a minute to reflect on situation this week when you should have used forgiveness. Were you the victim, the offender, or the innocent bystander? Did you represent your Lord in a manner that would be pleasing to Him? What actions can you take in the next twenty-four hours to open the pathway to forgiveness?

Make a list of persons you need to forgive and persons from whom you need forgiveness. Begin praying for them today. Then

From: Transforming Your Workplace for Christ, © Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997.

William Nix is president of Faith@Work, a ministry that challenges, teaches, and encourages Christians to bring Christ into the workplace.

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