Giving Forgiveness

I found this to be a helpful explanation of forgiveness, taken from Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s book As For Me and My House, pages 79-81:

“For-give-ness is a holy, complete, unqualified giving.”

Giving Up: “Forgiveness is a willing relinquishment of certain rights. The one sinned against chooses not to demand her rights of redress for the hurt she has suffered. She does not hold her spouse accountable for his sin, nor enforce a punishment upon him, nor exact a payment from him, as in ‘reparations’. … In this way she steps outside the systems of law; she steps into the world of mercy. She makes possible a whole new economy for their relationship: not the cold-blooded and killing machinery of rules, rights, and privileges, but the tender and nourishing care of mercy, which always rejoices in the growth, not the guilt or the pain, of the other.”

Giving Notice: “But forgiveness must at the same time be the clear communication to the sinner that she has sinned. It may seem saintly for the wounded party to suffer his pain in silence, and it is surely easier to keep that silence than risk opening wounds; but it does no good for the marriage, and it encourages no change in the sinner. ‘Giving notice’ means that he will reveal to his spouse, as clearly as he can, what she has done. No, the purpose of this revelation is not to accuse: it is to impart information. … With love and not with bitterness he explains both her act and its consequences, remembering always that his communication is for her sake, the sinner’s sake, and showing always in his countenance a yearning love for her.”

Giving Gifts: “Forgiveness is, at the same time, a pure, supernal giving: the receiver doesn’t deserve it; the giver wants nothing for it. … Forgiveness is not a good work which expects some reward in the end, because that motive focuses upon the giver, while this kind of giving must focus completely upon the spouse, the one receiving the gift, the one who sinned. … Rather, forgiveness is giving love when there is no reason to love and no guarantee that love will be returned.”

“Only when a pure, unexpected, unreasonable, and undeserved gift-giving appears in the marriage does newness enter in and healing begin.”

Wangerin, Jr., Walter. As For Me and My House. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990. Print.

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