The only way I know to give you good resources on a huge topic is to link you to this amazing resource that is listed below.
Forgiveness shows the truth of our christianity!
If we as men and women in Christ are going to show our world what it truly means to be a Christian, this is how it will be done! Forgiveness does not come naturally to humans. We naturally want revenge when someone does wrong to us.
Learning to forgive starts with an honest look at what happened and working through the process of forgiving. That process does not include ignoring what happened or ignoring that we have been offended.
Scripture helps show us how we can be different. How can we get the log out of our own eye first before removing the sawdust from their eye? That is one of the questions.
Here is the link to Peacemaker Ministries
Here is a website you need to bookmark on your computer: Peacemaker Ministries. It is packed full of resources for you for learning to forgive, reconcile and teaching you how to do it as if you have never seen an example in your entire life…because many of us may not have! This ministry was started by lawyers and I think some that had been engineers as well. There is even a conciliation service offered as well as training for all levels of reconciliation assistance.
Take a look at the Peacemaker Ministries link. At the very top of the page is a drop down called Resources. You will find most of what I’m talking about under Resources. Take time to read and study The Four G’s. This will give a good review along with Scripture, of what is taught about forgiveness…step by step.
Then, click the link called Slippery Slope. I have found that to be a very helpful diagram…yes, I’m a diagram freak! It shows the different degrees of how we deal with our emotions and to what degree we either attack or escape when dealing with issues that arise.
Learning to apologize
I do want to talk just a bit about learning to apologize. Sadly, I’m not an expert on apologizing effectively. By effective, I do not mean apologizing in a way that the other person will accept the apology and all will be sweetness and light! An effective apology means that I am able to express to the person my sorrow and repentance for hurting them without blame shifting or in any way trying to move the blame from where it belongs…at my feet. This includes situations where I may not be 100% responsible for what happened. I can still apologize sincerely and genuinely for the ways I failed, the ways I sinned.
Whether I offended a person intentionally or not, I need to apologize when I become aware that I offended them. Often, the way I find out may not be pleasant, may not be first hand, but through the grapevine, it may be that I find it out in the middle of an argument or disagreement. That still doesn’t negate the fact that I need to apologize.
Whatever has happened, at some point, I need to pray and ask GOD to give me His perspective on what happened. This is usually when my excuses and rationalizations tend to fall by the wayside. Sitting there talking to Jesus, the One who paid for ALL of my sin? Okay, I shut my mouth and bow down!!
Seeing my sin from their perspective
I need to look at what happened from the perspective of the person I hurt! Often, this is where their pain becomes mine. I can’t keep blaming or excusing my behavior. I have to just be quiet and realize the effect my behavior had on them. After I have talked to GOD about it and repented for what I did, including the attitudes surrounding it, I need to go to the person and talk with them.
Often, in the conversation with the other person, I learn more about how they were hurt. It may or may not become a topic of the conversation. But I must take responsibility for what I did and for how I hurt them. I must ask for their forgiveness, not assume they will forgive me! They may need time to think it over. They may not be able to forgive at the moment I’m talking to them.
My responsibility is NOT to make them accept my apology. It is to humbly request their forgiveness, understanding that I have hurt them…and it may take some time for them to be able to accept the apology. It’s true that reconciliation is when both parties are completely reconciled and have forgiven each other. But that rarely happens instantly. I can’t assume that it will happen. I apologize and continue to move toward them in relationship…hoping and praying they will become reconciled with me, but not assuming they will.
Apologies can often come across as being arrogant or blame-shifting; they can have little knife twists in them that leave jabs behind; they can sometimes be manipulative; but these aren’t true apologies.
I can’t tell you how seldom I have received a true apology. Many have “apologized” to me over the years…but most of the time, I have felt attacked through their apology. The article The Seven A’s of Forgiveness is very helpful (also under resources on the website) for learning how to make an apology that actually IS an apology! As a follow-up, Four Promises of Forgiveness is also helpful.
Make use of the links and spend some time on the Peacemaker Ministries Website. Read through the Scripture passages and information. There is nothing automatic about this information but it is a helpful way of organizing Biblical teaching on forgiveness and reconciliation. It isn’t something you will read once and find you have it down. It is something you will need to read and think about and read some more and think about and try putting into practice and make mistakes…and get up and put into practice more.
But, it will be worth the work you do. Learning to confess and apologize to others and forgive other when they confess to you…these are major steps in growing up.
Most of all, pray for GOD to soften your heart toward the person you need to forgive…and change YOU so you will have to love of Christ for them and forgive them.