Forgiveness: making sense of it

Posted by admin at 2:42 PM on Oct 22, 2017


Our workplace chaplains are privileged to share in conversations about the things that really matter to people. Many will be positive, with people speaking of their hopes and aspirations. Other, more negative conversations, involve problems in friendships and relationships. Many of these can be traced to long standing grievances and a lack of forgiveness, on one side or the other.

Forgiveness is central to the Christian faith. As is clear in the Lord’s Prayer, God’s forgiveness extended to us through his grace should go hand in hand with our readiness to forgive those who wrong us. It isn’t easy: some things are very hard to forgive. When I preach about forgiveness, rather than tell people what to do, I prefer to give examples of where people have found it possible to forgive. As they do so they find the possibility of their own healing and freedom from being held captive by past wrongs and resentments. A family we knew in the 1970s spoke on national radio of being able to forgive the man who killed their daughter when she was a student.

An excellent booklet by John Phillips, “Forgiveness: making sense of it” includes several examples of people who have found it possible to forgive those who have wronged them or those whom they love. There are other accounts of those who have experienced the forgiveness of others. In each case it is a liberating experience. The book sets this alongside the forgiveness of God, secured by Christ on the cross. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

In just 40 pages, it is a powerful book, well written with some helpful and moving poems. Other material and books by John Phillips can be found at