1. Clearly identify what offenses of mine need to be forgiven.
We are great at identifying the faults of others but poor in discovering our own. We need to discover the how we have offended God and hurt others. David said in Psalm 51:3, "For I know my transgressions."
More than often we have some fault of spirit (attitude) or lack of concern for others. We need to ask God to help us identify these problems. God in Jeremiah 17:9 says,
"The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?"
Like David in Psalm 139:23-24, we need to plead for Him to search our own actions and attitudes.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Key point >> Discover your faults from your life. We can pretty much trust God to care for others who have hurt us.
2. Acknowledge their hurt and pain. Be specific.
There are at least three areas of pain. Each is difficult to honestly recognize. We have such a difficult time opening up ourselves to see what pain we have suffered as well as empathizing with others in the pain that we or others might have inflicted them with.
- God is grieved. As imperfect creatures you, I, and others have offended Him. We have despised His rules so we could choose to do what we desired. Sin is transgressing God's law even if we are ignorant of it. "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). His laws are best for us, but we think our way is best.
- We have hurt the other person. As mentioned above it is difficult to think of our own wrong doings. But it is equally difficult to think of their pain. We are more intent on getting revenge than trying to understand what deep hurts are inside those who have hurt us. These deep emotional scars have contributed to their aggressive behavior that pained you and probably others.
- We are hurt. Someone has deeply hurt us. We often pride ourselves in being able to handle things, but our wounds in fact reveal our inability on our own to handle the situation. Someone's words have hurt us. Written words whether in emails or letters have upset us. Add these things to the many other wrong things that have been done. If we are not forbearing and forgiving, we will soon get bitter and angry.
Key point >> You need to address each offended party and tell them the grievance you have done and how it probably hurt them emotionally. This includes an honest conversation with yourself on how you were offended by what you thought someone did.