This year, I have read so many very good books. Miroslav Volf’s Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace is definitely in that category. What a soul-stirring, moving, heart-shifting book. And how deep of a read!
For one of my final papers for school, I chose to write on the topic of “forgiving God” and why there isn’t a biblical category for that belief/practice. One of the books that I perused in the library was this one by Volf. Although it was not helpful in the sense of it addressing my topic, I stored the title away, as a book that I wanted to read in the future.
This was a book that took me months to read, but it was worth every bit of that length of time. It was not an easy read by any stretch of the word, but it was thorough, theological, and thoughtful. It was also a book that, at times, moved me to tears, for both the beauty of the words and concepts, but also for the ways I found my life relating to the material Volf wrote about in these pages. To try to limit this review to only twenty quotes is a very difficult task, indeed. So, it is my hope that the long winter of 2019/2020 will find you opening this book, so that by the time the beauty of spring unfolds, you will be finishing this incredible book.
- No life worth living is possible without generosity (20).
- Our eyes and ears need a heart ready to receive the truth of God’s reality rather than one that longs for the comforts of false gods (23).
- We can’t give anything back to God, not even ourselves, since we were never our own in the first place (47).
- When loving truly, the self moves outside of itself to dwell with God and neighbor, and only then is it truly at home (52).
- Every gift breaks the barrier between the sacred and the mundane and floods the mundane with the sacred (54).
- If the presence of the gift-giving Christ makes us rich, rest will replace weariness, and peace will banish unending restlessness (109).
- We desire forgiveness because we value relationships, and we know that relationships cannot be mended without forgiveness (127).
- The generous release of a genuine debt is the heart of forgiveness (130).
- Each of us exists because the gift of life rests on the gift of forgiveness (136).
- After we confess, we have nothing to hide, nothing to run away from (154).
- We are forgiven so we can be freed from the burden of our offense and return into the arms of the loving God (154).
- We forgive because “recalling” the offenders from sin matters more to us than “avenging” wrongs we have suffered (162).
- By forgiving a person, one “swallows” evil up into oneself and thereby prevents it from going further (170).
- Punishment cannot release us of guilt. Only forgiveness can (172).
- To forgive means most basically to give a person the gift of existing as if they had not committed the offense at all (175).
- Our forgiveness is but an echo of God’s (202).
- God being the source of our forgiveness, the better we forgive, the less reason there is for pride (217).
- Why do we refuse the God-given bridge that would transport us from selfishness to self-giving, from vengeance to forgiveness? That’s a mystery that should make us tremble—tremble before the God who gives to the ungrateful and the God who forgives the ungodly (224).
- Doubt is part of belief; it isn’t contrary to it (228).
- Spirituality that’s not theological will grope in the darkness, and theology that’s not spiritual will be emptied of its most important content (236).