January 23, 2010

Forgiving Those Who Trespass Against Us

One of my heroes is Dwight David Eisenhower, the thirty-fourth president of the United States and the supreme commander of the Allied Forces in Europe in World War II.

When I was a young college administrator in 1963, I had the opportunity and the honor to speak privately with Ike for about an hour and a half, and despite his fame, I found him to be unpretentious and without vanity or affectation.

My respect for him reached another level when I read an excerpt from his book, At Ease; Stories I Tell to my Friends. It was there I learned that Eisenhower “made it a practice to avoid hating anyone.”

If someone offended him, he wrote the name on a slip of paper and dropped it into a bottom desk drawer. Then he would say to himself, “That finishes the incident and, as far as I am concerned, that person.”

I experienced a variation of Ike’s method of dealing with difficult people in a sermon in which the pastor invited each member of the congregation to write the name of someone who offended that person on a slip of paper. Then the slips were collected and burned.

As with Eisenhower’s approach, the intended result is that offenses against those who participated were forgotten.

My own advice is to forget those who offended you, because while you fret and fume about what they did, they are enjoying themselves shopping, playing golf or visiting Disney World.

From Proverbs, we read:

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”