There’s almost nothing so beautiful as forgiveness. Botham Jean was killed in 2018 in his apartment by an off-duty police officer who thought he was an intruder. The courtroom scene where the police officer received forgiveness from Jean’s brother brought tears to many eyes.

But where many saw beauty, others seethed with anger. Some saw another example of African Americans forgiving their oppressors when they should have been demanding change. A similar drama played out after the Charleston shooting by a white supremacist in 2015.

Must we choose between forgiveness and justice? Does forgiveness merely empower abusers?

Enter Tim Keller in his latest book, Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? The best-selling author and co-founder of The Gospel Coalition doesn’t neglect the cost of forgiveness. He writes, “Forgiveness is always a form of voluntary suffering that brings about a greater good.” Sometimes that greater good accrues to the one who forgives. Forgiveness may feel like an optional exercise, but only if we don’t consider the alternative. Keller writes: “If you don’t deal with your wrath through forgiveness, wrath can make you a wraith, turning slowly but surely into a restless spirit, into someone who’s controlled by the past, someone who’s haunted.”

Tim Keller joined me on Gospelbound to discuss what happens when a society doesn’t forgive, whether it’s ever OK not to forgive, the two stages of forgiveness, and more.