This series was refined and enhanced to become Making Sense of Forgiveness, published by New Growth Press in 2021.

C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head when he said, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive (p. 115 in Mere Christianity).” Forgiveness is a great theme for a redemptive novel or movie. We cry sweet tears. But as a lived experience, forgiveness means you’ve been hurt and are making yourself vulnerable again. We cry bitter tears.

The same thing can be said with a slightly different twist, “Every Christian thinks forgiveness is a beautiful concept, rich with practical gospel implications, until they preach a sermon, teach a lesson, or advise a friend about forgiveness.” All the sudden, the beautiful simplicity of forgiveness becomes painfully complicated. If you’ve had these conversations, you know how many land mines there are.

That is the purpose of this series, to help you have better conversations about forgiveness.

  • To raise important topics that often get omitted and leave our friend feeling like God cares more about their offender’s soul than our friend’s pain.
  • To differentiate forgiveness from related subjects like restoration and trust, so that forgiveness doesn’t come across as an all-or-nothing doormat theology.
  • To wrestle with the emotions that surround the experience of forgiveness so we don’t come across as naively implying that forgiving someone will make the emotional disruption “all better.”

The reality is, if we can’t talk well about forgiveness in the midst of the messy realities of life, we will not be good ambassadors of the gospel. We will either be brutishly clumsy as we fight for what we know the right answer to be (as if we could argue someone into forgiving). Or, we become sheepishly tentative as we fearfully avoid discussing the healing response of forgiveness (as if there is relational harmony without forgiveness).

The reality is, if we can’t talk well about forgiveness in the midst of the messy realities of life, we will not be good ambassadors of the gospel. Click To Tweet

Forgiveness is an unavoidable conversation. But we must not be either brutish or sheepish when discussing it. We need to be as tender as we would want a doctor to be in caring for a physical wound and as forthright as we would want a doctor to be when educating us on a serious diagnosis. That is the aim for what this series is about.

Now for a word on how it is written. There are two aims for how this series is written: brief and conversational. You will notice there are more than 20 topics listed. That is so each can be considered in a bite-size way.

Good conversations around delicate subjects usually aren’t profoundly deep and don’t cover an immense amount of information. They are simple and patiently engage one subject in a way that can be digested. Helpful discussions are content to address other things later when the other person is ready. That’s how this series will progress. Take your time with each subject and only read the next when you’re ready.

This series is also written conversationally. My aim is to use common language, clear examples, and simple sentence structure. I want you to be able to hear yourself saying these things. The emotions around forgiveness may be intimidating. I don’t want the words and concepts I use to add to your sense of unrest. I want this to be an approachable discussion of forgiveness that honors the complexity of the subject.

With that said, I hope you enjoy the journey through this series (each article to be released in the weeks ahead).

  1. Remember, Forgiveness Begins with Pain
  2. 5 Things Forgiveness Is Not
  3. 3 Dimensions of Forgiveness
  4. 3 Things Not to Forgive
  5. Why We Should Not Forgive Misinterpretations
  6. When Discussing Parables About Forgiveness
  7. When Discussing Narratives Involving Forgiveness
  8. When Using Criminal or Traumatic Offenses as Illustrations of Forgiveness
  9. God’s Forgiveness to Us: Unconditional?
  10. “Forgive and Forget” and an Omniscient God
  11. The Uncomfortable Reality: Forgiveness Is Never Deserved
  12. Can Boundaries and Forgiveness Co-Exist?
  13. Trust as a Proportional Virtue
  14. Identifying Wise Trust on a Spectrum
  15. Forgiveness and Manipulative Repentance
  16. Crisis and Post-Crisis Forgiveness
  17. Remembering Well after Forgiveness
  18. Is Embracing Forgiveness from Others Harder Than from God?
  19. Forgiveness and Shame, Not Just Guilt
  20. Intra-Personal Forgiveness: Should I Forgive Myself?
  21. Forgiveness and Assurance of Salvation: Religious Scrupulosity
  22. The Offensiveness of God Forgiving Sins Against Me
  23. Forgiveness and Emotional Freedom
  24. Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
  25. Forgiveness and Leaving Room for the Wrath of God
  26. Forgiveness and Protecting Other Vulnerable People
  27. Forgiveness and Emotional Maturity: Root and Fruit