The narrow way of abundant life that Jesus gives us through His grace pushes us to do everything in our power to make things right when we wrong others. The basics of the Old Testament law condemned murder, but Jesus made forgiveness and reconciliation so important in the narrow way that our norm is to be extreme in gaining forgiveness through humility. Nothing can stop us from a clear conscience but our pride.
The will of God is clear, “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” [Matt 5:23-24 (MSG)]
Before you ask someone to forgive you for offending or wronging them, examine yourself. Ask these important questions and carefully answer them:
- Is there a change I need to make in my behavior? What can I do more than making promises to change my attitude or action?
- Should I make restitution for what I did? What kind of restitution is adequate to mend our relationship? Should I replace the expensive item I damaged or destroyed? Should I go back and thoroughly restore the reputation I destroyed? Should I publicly confess my sin?
- Have I thought through my action now and relived my offense through their feelings and viewpoint? Only when I stop looking at the conflict through my eyes will I be able to see how I hurt them.
- Can I say I have I fully forgiven them for any wrong they did to me? If I ignore the need to get right with my friend or family member, God will not allow me His blessings. What do I think gets me off the hook from forgiving them? Remember Matthew 18:34-35 (AMP) “And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed. So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.”
Then while preparing yourself to make things right…
1. Prepare your wording and make sure it does not imply blame to them or others? Do not say, “We both were wrong so I will forgive you if you forgive me.”
2. Make no excuses. Ask yourself, “Am I trying to justify my offenses in any way?
3. “Write out your words and make sure they are very specific.
4. Frame your words carefully showing genuine sincerity and humility. For example, your beginning is important, so say something like this, “I have acted foolishly and damaged the trust of our relationship. God has convicted me that my outburst of anger towards you this morning…”
5. Next clearly say “…I was wrong…” “I lied about you to hurt you. I was wrong. I have already gone back to your friends and confessed to them.”
6. Then make sure you finish with the question, “Could you please forgive me?” Then in humility wait for their answer.
Then after asking forgiveness ask…
- Am I prepared to continue to respond correctly even if they will not forgive?
- How can I sincerely thank them if they do forgive me?
- Could I humble myself and ask them to reveal further “blind spots” I have that damage them and others?
Suggested Prayer to Develop a Spirit of Forgiveness
Lord Jesus, I ________________ [your name], do purpose in my heart, by Your grace, to believe that everything that happens to me You allow for a specific purpose—for my good. I know You promise me that all things, no matter how bad, You will work out for my good [Romans 8:28]. By faith, I will seek You for that purpose. I will not allow others to take [steal] my joy, by bitterness, but to forgive them as You have forgiven me.
I will remember…
“…Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” Daniel 1:8
Beware “…lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” Hebrews 12:15
Remember, in this context, bitterness is simply the result of not seeing suffering from God’s perspective. Use the hurts of your past to remember what it cost the Lord to forgive you. [Matthew 18:21-35]
Check the following qualities in yourself as you determine to forgive and build up your enemies:
- LOVE [God’s way is giving to the needs of anyone]
- JOY [God’s way is reproducing Christ’s character]
- PEACE [Biblical principles define it as a conscience clear of all offense to God and man]
- PATIENCE [God’s way is responding to irritations with love]
- GENTLENESS [God’s character is the spirit of understanding]
- GOODNESS [Biblical principles Christ-like actions and responses]
- FAITH [fulfilling God’s purposes]
- MEEKNESS [yielding all my rights to God]
- SELF-CONTROL [developing moral freedom]