From Forgiven to Forgiving – Book Review

(Note: this is a repost, moving it from a "page" to a post")

From Forgiven to Forgiving, Jay E. Adams

An excellent book (the best that I’ve read - ever) on Biblical forgiveness.

When I say this is the best book - I mean that I buy this book five at a time so that I can give them away!

from the back of the book:

What do the following statements about forgiveness have in common?·Forgiveness is obtained through apologizing.·The best thing you can do is “forgive and forget”.·You aren’t forgiven until you feel forgiven.·Even if someone hasn’t asked for forgiveness, you can still forgive them.These statements all represent popular misconceptions about true biblical forgiveness. Because forgiveness plays such a major role in our relationships with other people, it’s critical to have a clear idea of God’s plan for forgiving and being forgiven. Distortions in His plan can lead to twisted thinking and further pain for those struggling with forgiveness issues.In this book, Dr. Jay Adams carefully explores all dimensions of the process of forgiveness. He can help you understand biblical forgiveness from beginning to end, and apply that understanding to everyday situations ranging from forgiving your straying spouse or prodigal child–and being forgiven by them as well.If you have experienced the incredible power of God’s forgiveness in you life, read this book and see how forgiveness’ power can change your life as you relate to others.

The most significant points:

  • there is a difference between forgiving and forgetting
  • there is a difference between “forgetting” and “not remembering
  • true forgiveness means true restoration
  • asking for forgiveness is not the same thing as an apology
This book has made an enormous impact on my relationship with my children. The two most significant things that I’ve absorbed are:

- What forgiveness is and does. Forgiveness is NOT a feeling. Forgiveness is a promise and we are to model our forgiveness after God’s forgiveness of us. God promises to not hold our sins against us, and when we forgive we are promising not to hold another’s sins against them.- Forgiveness is a two-way street. Forgiveness involves repentence - and either way (if we are the one offended, or if we know that we have offended another) restoration begins with us. In one passage we are instructed to go to a spiritual sibling that we know we have offended, in another we are intructed to go to a spiritual sibling who has offended us. Either way, we should be running to the person we are at odds with.- “Apologizing” is the world’s substitute for forgiving. Looking at the entemology, “apologia” was a defense made at court. So, rather than asking forgiveness (God’s way), an apology started out being a defense against one’s sin. Look at our word “apologetics” - it means “defense of”. Saying “I apologize” is a far cry from “I have sinned against God and against you. Will you forgive me?” Think of our kids - how sincere do you think they were when they looked at their feet and mumbled “sorry” to their sibling? When a person says “sorry”, they are not asking the one offended to do anything, nor are they agreeing to do anything. The matter is not put to rest.- “Sorry” is an emotion”. “I sinned, please forgive me” is far more.Adams uses this illustration:

Picture the wrongdoer holding a basketball. He apologizes, saying, “I’m sorry.” The one offended shuffles his feet awkwardly. It is always awkward to respondn to an apology, because you are not asked to do anything, and yet some sort of response is expected. The offended party says something inane like, “Well, that’s OK.” But it isn’t. The matter has not been put to rest. When you say the wrongdoing it OK you either lie or condone a wrong. At the end of the transaction the wrongdoer is still holding the ball.

Now, consider forgiveness. The wrongdoer comes with his basketball. He says, “I wronged you. Will you forgive me?” In doing so, he tosses the ball to the other person. He is freed of his burden. Not the burden of responsibility has shifted. The one wronged is asked to do what God requires him to do. He must either make the promise or risk offending God…

This is where it gets personal. This week I offended a person. I tossed the basketball in this person’s direction - the basketball is in that person’s hands.

The above things are about the offending party - what about the one offended? Adams says the promise of forgiveness involves three things:

  1. I will not bring the matter up to you
  2. I will not bring the matter up to another
  3. I will not bring the matter up myself
Again - this is where it gets personal. I have taught my children these things and they know that they are not only my children, they are also my spiritual siblings. We (as Christians) are responsible to each other.
More than once, my daughter has reminded me that I said, “I forgive you” - and that I brought it up again, which is breaking the promise. This interaction has vastly improved our relationship - she knows that it is her job to remind me when I break the promise.
In my home, there is a formula that does not include a mumbled “sorry”. It includes:
  • I was wrong
  • I repent
  • I will do my best to not let it happen again
  • will you forgive me?
This puts the ball in the other person’s hands”
  • I forgive you
  • I will not bring it up again.
This formula - God’s formula - works.
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