'Why is it better for me to forgive someone and take on the cost of that forgiveness myself?'
In his new book, renowned pastor and author Timothy Keller grapples with this thorny question: why we should forgive those who hurt us. It is the heart of the gospel, but it's not solely important on a religious level; the matter of forgiveness has a huge impact on social and cultural levels, in terms of how we deal with the people, and problems, in our lives. What is it like to carry around resentment and judgement, and what does it cost us to do so - as against the very real personal cost of extending forgiveness to others? These are issues that matter on a daily level, as well as a spiritual one.
Writing with his trademark wisdom and deep reliance on the Bible, Keller helps readers think about these questions in an way that will help them rethink their lives, in ways that point to Jesus showing us how to live in the world - and how we can live in a spirit of forgiveness.
Pastor Keller (Hope in Times of Fear) delivers a thorough and eloquent apologetic for forgiveness. Keller anchors his study in the Christian parable of the unforgiving servant, in which a king forgives the debt of a servant who later refuses to remit a smaller debt owed to him by another servant and is punished for his hard-heartedness. Keller outlines the elements of forgiveness, which include being humble, wishing the offending party well, and understanding that "human forgiveness is dependent on divine forgiveness." He pushes back against the rise of a contemporary "shame-and-honor culture" in which forgiveness is thought to weaken accountability and forestall justice, instead arguing that justice and forgiveness are yoked and that unity is enacted in Jesus's crucifixion and request that his persecutors be forgiven. Parsing the teachings of Paul, Keller urges readers to pray for and maintain a relationship with evildoers because "evil wins when it distorts your relationship with others." Christians whose theological understandings of the crucifixion differ from that of the author might not be persuaded by his arguments around the intersection of forgiveness and justice, but all will appreciate Keller's lucid prose and gift for succinctly summarizing biblical wisdom. The result is a thought-provoking take on how to forgive.