NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Quitting bad habits once and for all or starting a healthy new lifestyle typify many New Year’s resolutions. But what about letting go of the unforgiveness and bitterness that take a more serious toll on a person’s spiritual, physical and emotional well-being?
Robert E. Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, said his 25-plus years in ministry have proven that about 75 percent of problems in life inevitably go back to the inability to forgive and let go of resentment.
In his book, “Forged by Fire: How God Shapes Those He Loves,” released in June 2000, Reccord features the biblical character Joseph and outlines how Joseph serves as an example of someone who forgives and gains strength from his action. Broadman & Holman, the trade publishing division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, published the book.
“Of all the marvelous things that Joseph achieved, I am most amazed by his attitude of forgiveness,” Reccord said.
Reccord said Joseph demonstrates how a person who forgives is more productive and more useful to God’s kingdom.
Too often, many labor under what Reccord refers to as “false forgiveness.” Some equate forgiveness with mere tolerance, he said. Others try to achieve forgiveness by ignoring the problem entirely or pretending nothing happened. Unfortunately, problems never disappear when they are ignored or tolerated.
Instead, the problems usually escalate as resentment grows. Forgiveness is not found in empty words, either, he said.
“Words are cheap. Certainly words express forgiveness, but without the support of will, they are nothing more than a hollow, meaningless exchange.”
How do you truly forgive the past hurts of 2000 and let go of resentment in 2001?
For starters, a person should decide that relationships are more valuable than the need to be right, Reccord said, recounting, “Joseph knew the value of this kind of forgiveness — the willingness to face his hurts and intentionally put them aside, not holding them against his perpetrators.”
Remember and recognize God’s willingness to forgive, Reccord continued.
“Recall that God expects you to do the same for others. Realize that it is a matter of your will and not your emotions,” he said. “You must take the first step toward resolving conflict.”
Additionally, Reccord said that the forgiver is not responsible for another’s reaction to an offer of forgiveness; they are only responsible for taking the initiative.
Finally, he said, it is important to recognize that refusing to offer forgiveness is hypocritical.
“Forgiveness restores the circulation of love, acceptance and hope,” Reccord said. “Damaged emotions can function again. Ruptured feelings can be restored. Bruised and damaged egos can be healed. Relationships can once again flourish.”
The resulting peace and contentment stemming from forgiveness are sure to last well into the New Year, even if the vow to lose 10 pounds or start a new exercise regime falls by the wayside, he said.
Reccord’s book can be purchased at LifeWay Christian Stores nationwide or on the stores’ Internet site at www.lifewaystores.com.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ROBERT E. RECCORD.