Knowing God Pt 11 – Forgiveness

2019-06-18T14:10:18-07:00 August 10th, 2018|Tags: , , , |

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

This series of posts explores the topic “knowing God” – what it is, what it is not, why it is important, how it is possible and why it is relevant to marketplace leaders in the twenty-first century. 


“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.” ~T. D. Jakes

During my Citibank days, we lived in New York City. While there, an executive shared a central plank of his business philosophy with me: “Never apologize!” In his view, saying “sorry” was an admission of weakness (contrast with T. D. Jakes’ assertion). Since he saw no virtue in weakness, his approach to getting business done revolved around always claiming to be right. While his prescription for business success is memorable (and not uniquely his), I cannot recall applying it as a business philosophy. I plead guilty, however, to not seeking forgiveness on occasion!

At its core, the need for forgiveness is actually about the need for reconciliation. The aforementioned philosophy notwithstanding, it is difficult, if not impossible, for two people to reconcile without the healing balm of forgiveness. Of course, we can co-exist without reconciliation and even do business with unforgiveness in the air. However, its presence is unpleasant and often undermines relational effectiveness.

There have been a few instances over the years when I said something inappropriate to Mary. After I became a follower of Jesus, however, I found it impossible to not call her shortly afterwards (usually en route to the office) to say I was sorry and ask her to forgive me. In every case, Mary was quick to forgive. The end result – reconciliation and a strengthening of our (already healthy) marriage. By the way, I find it hard to recall instances when Mary wronged me!

While it’s easy to comprehend the need for forgiveness in the context of personal and business relationships, it’s much more difficult in the context of God. Most people in the West don’t know God and therefore the concept of offending Him is foreign. Instead, we tend to judge our own conduct by invoking moral relativism. Accordingly, we think ourselves pretty good on a moral scale relative to others without considering there might be an absolute standard of right and wrong.

According to the Bible, however, God is that absolute standard. He doesn’t legislate it, He is it! While He loves each of us passionately, He hates any thought, word or deed that doesn’t align with His perfect character (aka “sin”). The bad news is I sin every day (and, unless you’re perfect, so do you).

The good news is that Jesus died on our behalves to pay the penalty for our sin. In order to access the forgiveness He purchased for us, however, we must repent and make Jesus our leader.

Most importantly, by accessing His forgiveness, we are reconciled to God and get to spend eternity in His presence starting immediately. Thus, at the end of the day, forgiveness is the necessary precondition to knowing God. For marketplace leaders in the 21st century (and everyone else) the need for God’s forgiveness is the most relevant and important need, whether felt or not.

Do you know God? Consider joining a LeaderImpact professional peer group to explore big questions like this.

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.