Summary: Bible-based steps to forgiving others. This online Bible study helps you identify someone to forgive and then helps you forgive step-by-step. It also helps you choose whether to forgive silently or talk about issues.

Summary: Bible-based steps to forgiving others. Identify someone to forgive, then forgive step-by-step.
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Put Forgiveness into Practice

Follow these steps when you forgive someone

Doug Britton, MFT

Woman discovers what forgiving others really looks like and the steps in deciding to forgive

This is part four of a four-part series on “Forgiving Others.”

 

Identify someone you will forgive

In this online Bible study, you will have the chance to practice forgiving someone. Before you read further, take a moment to think of someone you have not forgiven for hurting or disappointing you.

If you have trouble thinking of someone, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any of them, it’s a sign you may need to forgive this person.

  • Do you feel anger, resentment, or bitterness toward someone?
  • Do you think a lot about what someone did to you?
  • Do you talk with others about the ways someone mistreated you?
  • Do you hope bad things will happen to someone?
  • Do you feel sorry for yourself?

Make it personal

1. Have you identified someone you need to forgive? Are you willing to put forgiveness into practice and forgive this person?

 

Decide to forgive

Remember that forgiveness is a decision. If you have trouble making this decision, prayerfully review part one of this study, “Why Forgive?”

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

 

Forgive quickly

Forgive as soon as you can. When you hold on to an offense, you give it life and strength, making it harder to forgive in the long run.

However, if something terrible was done to you, don’t feel guilty if you have trouble forgiving right away. God understands your pain and anger. As time goes on, ask God to help you forgive.

What do you think?

2. Why is it a good idea to forgive quickly?

 

Sometimes forgive silently

Many times it is gracious to forgive silently. There’s no need to make a comment every time someone forgets to pick up dirty clothes, is late, or runs out of gas. If you were to make a comment every time someone disappoints or hurts you, you could come across as being judgmental or obnoxious.

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. (Proverbs 10:12)

A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. (Proverbs 12:16)

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

Make it personal

3. Describe some times it might be wise to forgive silently.

 

Sometimes talk about your feelings or frustration

Although at times it is wise to silently forgive, sometimes it is wise to talk about your feelings. The following guidelines will help you decide whether or not to bring something up as well as help you have good conversations.

 

Decide whether or not to say something.

How can you know when to talk and when to be quiet? Although the Bible says there are times when we should remain silent, it also says there are times when we should talk. Friends should be able to help each other as long as neither one becomes a nag.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:5-6)

It can be hard to know which principle to follow, whether to bring something up or to remain silent. The following questions will help you decide.

  • Is this really my problem, not the other person’s?
  • How important is this issue to me?
  • How important is this issue to God?
  • What is my motive—to lovingly help or to wound?
  • Has my overall relationship with this person been loving and respectful?
  • Do I often give this person negative feedback?
  • Have I recently brought up the same problem?
  • Is the other person open to discussing tough topics?
  • Has the other person previously said “no” to this?
  • Should I give grace a chance?

What do you think?

4. Why is it sometimes important to talk about issues in addition to forgiving?

5. Do you think you need to bring up problems more often? Less often? Explain your answer.

Related: Talking with Love and Respect

 

Prepare your heart before you talk.

Ask God to help you identify and deal with any poison that may be festering in your heart.

 

Wait to talk until you can talk courteously.

Don’t start the conversation if you are too angry to talk gently. Be especially careful if you are tired or sick.

Related: Victory Over Grumpiness, Irritation, and Anger

 

Approach the other person in humility, recognizing your own imperfections.

Remember that you have faults of your own, although they may not be the same ones as the person you are forgiving.

Related: What is the meaning of humility?

 

Realize you may be overly-sensitive.

Sometimes we take things much too personally, or we allow ourselves to be hurt by imagined wrongs.

Related: Do you set yourself up to get hurt?

Related: Healing Life’s Hurts

 

Ask yourself if you are partially responsible.

Recognize that your actions may have contributed to someone else’s failures. Do not accept the blame for that person’s sins, but be willing to examine any role you might have played.

 

Ask forgiveness for your part.

Oftentimes both persons involved in a problem are at fault. Be sure to ask forgiveness for your part.

Make it personal

6. Do you ever take time to prepare your heart before talking about problems? Explain your answer.

7. How can you remind yourself to prepare your heart before talking?

 

Talk respectfully and courteously.

Paul told us how to approach someone who sins. Instead of attacking the other person, approach him or her gently. For example, you could say, “I felt hurt when you made that joke about me in front of other people.”

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

If the other person does not respond well, it’s often best to drop it, perhaps by saying something such as, “I thought you might like to know how I feel.”

Make it personal

8. When you are talking about a problem and you start to get angry, how can you stop yourself, then speak respectfully and courteously instead?

 

Take protective action when appropriate

Although you forgive, there are times when it is also wise to take strong actions. You can forgive someone for physical abuse, yet still call the police.

 

Learn from your mistakes

Sometimes we set ourselves up for problems—often without being aware of what we did. Ask God if there are lessons you can learn for the future. For example:

  • Do you treat people poorly, then get offended when they are not nice to you?
  • Do you ignore friends, then wonder why they do not reach out to you?
  • Do you criticize others a lot, then wonder why people avoid you?

Make it personal

9. Do you sometimes set yourself up for problems? Explain your answer.

 

Sometimes talk together after forgiving

Once you have forgiven someone, it may be helpful to talk with him or her to better understand one another and to possibly make plans for the future. As you talk, remember that you have forgiven the other person. Talk as a friend, not as someone rubbing salt in a wound.

What do you think?

10. Does forgiving someone mean never talking about the problem? Why or why not?

11. Imagine you just forgave someone for something. How could you talk about the problem without sounding like you are trying to make him or her feel bad?

 

Memory verse

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

 

Personal application

1. If someone’s words or actions hurt you, why should you prepare your heart before talking with him or her?

2. If you think you were partially responsible for a problem, does that mean you shouldn’t talk with the other person about your hurt feelings? Why or why not?

3. Imagine that you were partially responsible for a problem, and that you would like to talk with the other person about his or her part as well your part. Write one or two sentences you could say to get the conversation started.

4. If you are driving a car and someone cuts in front of you, how should you respond? Explain your answer.

5. Do you ever set yourself up to be hurt and then get upset at the way people treat you? If so, what could you do differently?

6. Why is it important to talk courteously when discussing your hurts or disappointments?

7. What is one thing you need to forgive someone for?

8. Will you forgive silently or will you talk with him or her about it? Explain your answer.

 

Click here to read Part 1 of “Forgiving Others” — Why Should I Forgive Him or Her?

Click here to read Part 2 of “Forgiving Others” — Forgiveness is a Choice, Not an Emotion

Click here to read Part 3 of “Forgiving Others” — Overcome Objections to Forgiving

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life.

Copyright © 2018 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.)

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