Rather than just stew in the offense and the hurt buffeting you, find new freedom by learning to ask yourself questions, reflecting on times when you offended others. When you were hurting, were you more likely to hurt others? Taking time to see when you offended God or others, and the forgiveness you received from either God or people you offended, this receipt of forgiveness has to have a positive effect on the relationship torn by offense. I have often found that when I take time to understand their hurting, their offense toward me is softened and I can move toward forgiveness.
When Deliberating Forgiving Others Here are a Few Questions To Ask Yourself
1. Could there be a circumstance where you might have done a similar offense to another? Have you ever betrayed a trust or caused others to suffer out of your own selfishness? It makes sense when you think about it, hurting people hurt others. If you were born to angry, selfish, proud parents or was shorted love and care in your own life, wouldn’t your natural tendency be to hurt people? Have you ever lost control and done something that hurt others? Can you imagine or discover reasons why in their hurting someone else hurt you? If not, pause for a moment and ask God to show you. Ask Him to help you see into the pain of their lives resulting in the pain you felt when they offended you.
2. How does God see the person who hurt you? Might He have compassion, knowing their circumstance? Do they have value to God? Are they worth redeeming? Can you learn to see them through God’s eyes?
3. Focus on the things that God has forgiven you for in the past, and what He must continue to forgive you for daily. How large is your debt to Him? (Matt. 18:23-25). How often do you offend God with disobedience and yet He continues forgiving you when you ask for it?
4. Has there been any benefit to your life or character since the offense? Has God exposed something in you that He would like to deal with? Is He trying to develop your character and grace? Most people find some benefits in retrospect.
Here are Some Benefits You Can Glean From Working Toward Forgiving Others:
1. You grew stronger or discovered unknown strength.
2. You may have become wiser (i.e., slower to trust, less naive).
3. It may allow new life experiences not possible had the offense not occurred.
4. It may strengthen other relationships (i.e., God, or with another friend who helps you work through toward forgiveness).
5. You might become better at communicating feelings.
6. A bad relationship may have come to a much needed end.
7. You confidence might have found new increase.
8. You have become more kind, more compassionate, less selfish.
9. You became more aware of the feelings of others.
10. You learned the importance of forgiveness.
11. You may have acquired new insights to bring health into the relationship.
12. You may have discovered a softening of concerns about others’ opinions/less need to please others.
13. You have learned about qualities to look for in friends.
14. You could have uncovered the importance of dealing with anger and/or keeping a cool head.
15. You could have found new strength to stand up for yourself.
16. You might have been led to increased confidence in beliefs/increased faith
17. You might discover you became an advocate for others in similar situations.
Stewing in the perceived offense toward us robs our freedom. Seeing our own offenses, and the forgiveness we received from God or others, will have compelling positive effect upon the offenses rendered by another. I have often found that when I take time to understand or discover their hurting, their offense toward me is softened allowing me to move toward forgiveness. And finally, if I take time to reflect upon my growth and increase in wisdom due to the offense and how I learn to deal with it, my heart is transformed into one a bit more like my Master’s; His heart overflowing with grace and compassion as we learn to make our selfish messes with decreased frequency and develop our character for His glory.
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