To forgive is to take upon yourself the pain of the offense and to desire that your offender be spared the pain of guilt.
Forgiveness always costs the forgiver.
Forgiving costs the one who was offended. Our example is Jesus, who took all the pain and humiliation for all of our offenses, and spared us the guilt. He was totally blameless; we are the offenders. He suffered for our crimes and shielded us from the consequences.
“Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.” Timothy Keller
For us, forgiveness is almost incomprehensible. True forgiveness requires something of us beyond our natural human capacity. Even to conceive of real forgiveness, we need the help of God’s example, and the empowerment of His presence within us.