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Art of Forgiving

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  387 ratings  ·  46 reviews
A wiser and seasoned Smedes offers hope and direction for all those seeking to understand and practice forgiveness. With compassion, insight, and illuminating example, he explains the three stages of forgiveness, shows why we should forgive and whom we should forgive, explains how faith can help us find the strength to forgive, and demonstrates the steps we must take in or ...more
Hardcover, 178 pages
Published April 9th 1996 by Random House, Inc.
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Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Forgiveness is a difficult process. One of my favorite parts of the book was this: "The way to hope for a better future after a bad past is the way of forgiving...We see the bad things that happened in the past through the lenses of whatever good has come to us afterward...Forgiving does not edit bad things out of our memories anymore than it makes the bad things good. Forgiving only helps us remember the positive things that follow it...Victims often twist the wrong someone else did to them int ...more
Dec 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The power is our ability to imagine a future. The weakness is our inability to control the future. The answer to the problem of imagining a fute we cannot control is hope. And the way to hope for a better future after a bad past is the way of forgiving."

This book was on my list because I started a small group about forgiving with a new church I recently became involved with. Forgiveness wasn't necessarily something I felt I needed to work on. However, I was hopeful for an opportunity to connect
Chris French
We make forgiving sound so easy. “Just forgive them and move on.” It’s not quite that simple most of the time. Lewis Smedes gives us a 1-2-3 step approach to forgiving while saying that sometimes forgiveness is not the right answer.

To forgive someone you need to first rediscover their humanity. When someone hurts us they become only what they did to us. They become an abuser, an adulterer, a liar when in truth they are much more than that. We need to remember that they’re not evil incarnate. The
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite part of this book was how we didn't have to accept what the person was doing. We didn't have to let them be part of our lives. They still had to be accountable for their actions. We aren't letting them off the hook. We are letting ourselves off the hook. We bring peace to our own lives. We don't waste one more minute worrying about something we have no control over. I also liked that we felt hurt because when someone hurts us it makes us feel like we don't have value. When in fact we ...more
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has been wounded or wronged
Recommended to Kipi by: Abilene Christian University
4.5 stars

An excellent look at what biblical forgiveness is and does and what is not and does not. I think I prefer Miroslav Volf's Free of Charge (thus the four and a half stars instead of five), but this one is also very much worth reading.
Mar 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's been wronged
Really good clarification about the things that forgiveness is and is not. Also goes through the hows of forgiving, and what to do when you find that it is especially hard, or when you worry that you have gone backwards.
Mitchell Dixon
Very simple. It gives great tips for forgiveness and does a great job of distinguishing between forgiveness and reconciliation. Just because you forgive does not mean that the person should be given the same status they previously had in your life.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was not the intended audience but I had to read this for class. This was terrible. I can’t recommend it for anyone
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
There's a lot of wisdom about forgiveness and how the gospel drives it. There are also a few flies in the ointment. For example, Smedes worries about “fast forgivers” who forgive quickly in order to avoid their pain (p137ff). This makes a lot of sense, not to fake forgiveness or say we forgive when we really don’t, but he never deals with what Jesus says in this regard: “forgive us our trespasses as those who trespass against us”, which is to say, right away because God doesn’t hold our sins aga ...more
Jay Pope
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This slim and extraordinarily easy read contains some of the most profound words of healing ever expressed in the English language. In many ways, it is quite superior to Smedes' earlier work, the seminal and misleadingly titled "Forgive and Forget", the first-ever major publication on the subject of forgiveness coming from theology or the social sciences. The pearls of wisdom expressed in this masterpiece are frankly too numerous to rehash here; however, this is the kind of work that needs to se ...more
Louis Lapides
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second reading of this book. The first time reading The Art of Forgiveness, I did not like what I read. I felt Smedes was more into psychology than biblical principles. However, after 15 years the advice in this book is helpful. I am older and have more questions and experiences as well as more hurts.

So I found the topics covered helpful. Yet Smedes did not cover enough scripture to support all his wonderful insights. I still struggle with forgiving people who do not repent but I und
Mark Tompkins
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great breakdown on the forgiveness format. The book gave many simple and extreme examples of who can forgive, who does not have the power to forgive and under which circumstances... Greatest take aways: A. that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things; B. Forgiveness is a healing process after recognizing the impact of an offense; C. I will process the forgiving process differently in the future, in business and in personal realms.

Read this book in 1 day. Will use as a reference,
Irene Allison
Full of beautiful and practical ideas, as well as some worth deeper reflection, this is a very enlightening book that can help demystify the nature and process of forgiveness. With the scales of society seeming to tip towards blame and hatred, this little book has big, valuable messages for our time and our spirit. Don't be put put off by the religious slant of this book, its core ideas are valid for anyone of any faith, as well as those who don't prescribe to any particular religion.
Billie Trahan
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book! It can get repetitive at times and just the tiniest bit too "forgiving is 100% exclusively only about you (the forgiver)" which I don't believe covers the whole of a Christian perspective. But overall I found it uplifting and connected with a lot of the anecdotes the author used. I recommend reading it but preferably alongside other books about the topic with other perspectives.
Kelsey Barrett
I really liked this book. It gave deeper insight into forgiveness as a process while I had some additional thoughts related to the subject and continued by understanding of forgiveness via workshops this was an excellent primer on the subject.
Kenneth J.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insightful, very challenging exploration of forgiveness. Practical throughout, Smedes makes his case for forgiveness as an act of self-care that the reader may be led to not only feel compelled to forgive, but strongly desirous of doing so.
Christine Mae
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Luke Mosher
Bitterness is a prison.
It was fairly repetitive. Some of the examples were outdated.
Skylar Burris
This is a book for anyone who needs to forgive anyone any wound. It is a follow up to "Forgive and Forget," which was the what and why of forgiving; this is supposed to be the how, and is subtitled "When You Need to Forgive and Don't Know How." It still rehashed a lot of the what and why, however, and did not contain enough practical "how." If you've already read Smedes's earlier book, you won't get a great deal more out of this one, but if you are picking only one of the two to read, I would su ...more
Jul 08, 2010 rated it liked it
More than once I’ve found myself wondering whether I need to forgive someone or if I’m just not good at letting something go. When I find myself blaming someone, how do I know when they are really at fault and how do I know when I’m angry simply because I’ve been hurt and have no control over the situation?

I think many times I’ve blamed someone when really no one is to blame; life is not painless after all, and experiencing pain doesn’t mean someone has done something wrong. On the flip side, o
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-growth
We choose to forgive. No one earns forgiveness. No one deserves forgiveness, because we can't turn back time and have the offense not take place. Often, when we think of forgiveness, we think of letting someone " getting away" with something. Forgiveness is not about ignoring the fact that we are hurt. It is not about setting ourselves up to hurt again. Forgiveness is not reconciliation or changing our mind about what is best for us. Forgiveness is not even something we do to enhance the life of ...more
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fortunately the process isn't complex or hard to follow. There is an evaluation process to go through a ensure that situations warrant forgiveness, that we're properly equipped (and are the rift person) to do the forgiving, how to go about executing the forgiveness and describes countless means by which the "so what" gets addressed. Or the"what do I do next" or the best, "who am I now that I've done this?"

Worthwhile read for those needing to shed burdens no longer worthy of being carried and mos
Anne Hamilton
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Immensely practical. Explores the maze of forgiving - what it is, what it isn't - and the various fallacies surrounding it in a thoughtful, no-nonsense way. While looking deep into the topic through both Scripture and experience, Smedes distinguishes between forgiveness and 'reunion'.

While forgiveness is always the duty of a Christian, he maintains it is a process and that it should take time. Moreover while it is a necessary duty, 'reunion' is not. In some situations, the worst thing we can do
Nov 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book of advice, for often difficult topic. Though written from a Christian perspective, the explanations and examples would benefit most humans. Smedes wrestles some tough issues, "do you forgive someone even though they haven't apologized? what about forgiving God? are some things truly unforgivable?" and doesn't give pat answers. The examples used are real and excruciating sometimes, but always insightful and helpful.

Ever gotten hurt by someone or hurt anyone? Read this book, it may
Steven Bullmer
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: healing
This is the BEST book I have ever read on the healing nature of forgiving. Smedes clarifies so many misunderstanding about forgiving. E.g., forgiving and reconciliation are two different things; you forgive serious wounds, not annoyances; you don't have to tell the person you've forgiven them for forgiveness to do its healing work; forgiving does not mean forgetting, it means remembering without illusion; and the insight I found most profound - there are only two routes to justice: vengeance and ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing. So often in Christian circles we associated forgiveness with forgetfulness. This forces those who are hurt or unjustly treated to trivialise that hurt or injustice. "If you had truly forgiven them then you would have forgotten about it and moved on." What we don't acknowledge is that some hurts and injustices are so profound that they change who we are in an intrinsic way. How do those people go about Godly, biblical forgiveness? This book delves deeply into the whys and h ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated most of the points made in the first half of the book; however, I found several points made in the second half to have shaky (or no) foundation. I also didn't appreciate the author's habit of giving his "own spin" to parables and biblical narratives. The text says what the text says, not what we wish it said so that we could more effectively make the point that we are trying to make.
Camille Grace
Very thought provoking to read considering I don’t personally identify as a Christian. It caused a lot of self reflection which led me to realize a lot about my approach and understanding (and lack there of) of forgiving. I did, however, have to push through with the second half. The examples of when to forgive became repetitive, which made it unreliable after a while. He also made some statements I completely disagreed with regarding the topic of blame.
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Light, easy read. Moves quick. Packed with useful material which provides it own motivation to be applied. My recommendation is you read it and work on the concepts before you are in need of forgiving someone of something appalling. Consider it mental training for when evil strikes and you need to recover from it.
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Lewis Benedictus Smedes (1921 — December 19, 2002) was a renowned Christian author, ethicist, and theologian in the Reformed tradition. He was a professor of theology and ethics for twenty-five years at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. His 15 books, including the popular Forgive and Forget, covered some important issues including sexuality and forgiveness.

Lewis Benedictus Smede

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