Summary: If God calls me to speak to a person who has offended me, how do I go about it?
When we have been offended, we must forgive, which we can do without saying anything to the offender. In fact, the Bible says it is a good thing if was can forgive and then overlook an offense.
“It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” - Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)
So, as a general rule, when someone offends us, we should forgive and then overlook the offense. However, there are times when we should approach someone who has offended us. We talked about that last time. We said that God might lead us to approach someone who has offended us . . .
A. When they are a brother or sister in Christ.
B. When the offense is a sin.
C. When the offense hurts your relationship.
D. When the offense hurts others.
E. When the offense is hurting the offender.
Now today, I want us to notice what our Lord tells us about how we should approach someone who has offended us if that is, indeed, what God has directed us to do. We should approach them:
We need to be honest about our own faults and flaws as we approach someone else about an offense they have committed against us.
“Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother’s eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me get the tiny particle out of your eye, when there is the beam of timber in your own eye? You hypocrite, first get the beam of timber out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the tiny particle out of your brother’s eye.” - Matthew 7:3-5 (Amplified)
Our problem may have more to do with our faults than theirs. We use a magnifying glass as we look at the speck in our brother’s eye; when what we need to use is a mirror. It’s only after we use a mirror to deal with our “beam” that we can then help with their “speck.”
If we have sincerely examined ourselves first, we can then deal with our brother understandingly.
“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out.” - Galatians 6:1 (The Message)
It is only as we deal with our brother understandingly that we are dealing with them in a Christ-like way.
“For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.”
- Hebrews 4:15 (Amplified)
C. Privately - v. 15 - “just between the two of you”
1) It is the best way to convey concern - If we are trying to convey the fact that we have forgiven them, we will not want to embarrass them or make an example of them; but will want to help them “save face.”
2) It is the best way to communicate concern - Jesus said, “GO and SHOW him his fault.” No e-mail. No phone call. No letter or note. And definitely no Facebook. Anything less that a face to face conversation places a barrier between the people involved.
In approaching a brother or sister who has offended you, do not confront the person, but confront the issue. Make observations, not accusations.
That means addressing actions that have occurred, rather than pointing a finger or attacking their character. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. “I feel that you did me wrong” is better than “You are a liar!” or “You don’t care about anyone but yourself!”
There are three primary purposes why God might have us personally express forgiveness to one who has offended us.
1) To bring about our spiritual growth.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” - James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Perseverance is about doing what you are supposed to do, even if you don’t feel like it. Often, we may not only not feel like forgiving someone, and we also may not feel like approaching them about an offense. Yet, God calls on us to forgive; and He just may call us to approach the offending person. But as we obey and learn to do the right thing because it is the right thing, we will mature and in the faith.