Volf, Miroslav. Free Of Charge. Giving and forgiving in a culture stripped of grace. Zondervan. 2005.
M.V.- professor of theology at Yale Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture.
In 2006 Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, declared this book as his Lent Book. He says of this book, it “offers us a unique interweaving of intense reflection, vivid and painful personal stories and sheer celebration of the giving God... I cannot remember having read a better account of what it means to say that Jesus suffered for us in our place”.
With profound insights and challenging standards of morality Miroslav takes us on a journey of how to give to and forgive those people who are such an important part of our lives. These topics are so simple and yet so very profound. John Ortberg evaluates this book as “Honest...compassionate...deeply informed.” I would describe this book as a ‘theological how to manual’ on giving and forgiving.
“No life worth living is possible without generosity.” (20) We need to evaluate our ‘image of God’. He is neither a negotiator nor a Santa Claus. Creation and redemption are evidence of God the giver. God’s gifts place us under the obligation of “faith and gratitude” (42, 45) This obligation requires availability and participation. “When a gift is given, life becomes extraordinary because God’s own gift giving flows through the giver.” (54)
We ‘should’ give because we have benefitted as receivers. We become God’s channels of giving. By giving we add enjoyment to the gifts we have received. To refuse to give blocks God’s flow of gifts. We must become God imitators in our giving. Our motives are important. Wrong motives destroy the value of giving. The ability to give is itself a gift from God for which we should be thankful.
Wrongdoings may be “neutralized” (128) by forgiving. Naming the wrongdoing and condemning it is part of forgiveness. To insist on punishment for wrongdoing creates a very dark picture for us all. God’s forgiveness is consistent with his justice. “God forgives because Christ paid what we owed.” (144)
“Revenge multiplies evil.” (161) we need to forgive as God forgave- in Jesus Christ. By forgiving we become instruments of God’s forgiveness. “To forgive is to name and condemn the misdeed.” (166) Forgetting makes forgiving complete. Reconciliation is a ‘fruit’ of forgiveness.
“We forgive by making God’s forgiveness our own.” (196) “Forgiving the unrepentant is the heart of the Christian way of life.” (209)