Debbie commented today, after looking at all the books on my desk, “Do you know you have 31 books on forgiveness?” Actually, I didn’t but she’s pretty close. I’m working on a writing project about forgiveness. In the process, I am trying to craft a new definition for forgiveness, which is harder than you might think.
I’m interested in a definition of forgiveness that can be applied in pastoral ministry in the local church. In other words, I’m looking for a definition of forgiveness that pastors can share with their members to encourage them to practice “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I am advocating for a new definition of forgiveness that:
- Takes into account the idea of forgiveness as a process;
- Produces an effect that is recognizable, so that a person can determine if they are acting in a forgiving manner;
- Values the broken relationship;
- Is useful both in situations where the offender has asked for forgiveness, and in situations where he has not done so;
- Seeks reconciliation as the final goal of forgiving acts;
- Attends to the psychological and spiritual health of the offended;
- Deals with the problems of memory and emotions in the forgiving process; and,
- Can be practically applied in local church ministry to assist and encourage the forgiving process.