Dr. David Stoops begins this book with these words: “Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally to anyone.” Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally, the author states, because our thought processes cannot comprehend why we need to forgive when we’re the ones who have been injured. In addition, forgiveness creates an internal conflict because it always involves the moral side of life, yet also involves our sense of love, compassion and mercy. However, the alternative to forgiveness is revenge, which only serves to bring us down to our offender’s level.
That being said, Dr. Stoops emphasizes that the basic premise of the book is that nothing in our lives is beyond forgiveness. If that’s true, then why do we label certain sins “unforgivable”? The author says that’s due to our perceptions of what forgiveness is and is not. He presents the following truths about forgiveness to clarify our understanding of the process:
1. We need to forgive and remember- we need to learn something from the process.
2. Anger, along with sadness, is a necessary part of the grieving process- if we don’t experience anger as we seek to forgive, Dr. Stoops posits that we’re “really not forgiving; we are merely trying to excuse the behavior.
3. Forgiveness takes time and isn’t a quick process, but it also involves a decision to forgive at a particular point in time. For that reason, it’s important to have a trusted Christian friend to mentor us through the process.
4. Forgiveness never legitimizes sin- it cancels the debt owed us and frees us from expecting restitution.
5. Forgiveness and reconciliation are two separate processes. Forgiveness is necessary for reconciliation, not vice versa.
6. Forgiveness is the only way God resolves issues in our past.
Ultimately, Dr. Stoops concludes, forgiveness is God’s plan for us and an action on our part that God always will honor.