From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 14 – How to forgive people in practical terms – some advice on what to do and how to go about it
Another very helpful thing to do is to ask God to reveal to us what our own faults and sins are. All of us tend to under-estimate our own sinfulness. We don’t realise the degree to which, and the ways in which, we have, ourselves, wronged God and wronged others. Sometimes (not always) the truth is that we were, in some way or another, at least partly to blame for the wrong that was done to us.
We may even have provoked it in some way that we did not realise or have forgotten about. We can therefore be greatly helped if we ask God to bring our own faults to the surface and to expose them. That revelation will help us to be able to forgive the wrongdoer, because we will realise, all the more clearly, how we are also a wrongdoer.
We may even see that we have partly caused, or contributed to, the wrong that was done to us. Or we might discover that we have wronged others in similar ways. Regrettably, the truth is that most of us are largely blind to our own faults. We either don’t see them properly or we don’t see them at all.
Sometimes, (not always) we may be operating hypocritically, wrestling with our inability to forgive person X, whilst being oblivious to the damage we have done to him and/or to someone else, perhaps person Y or Z. If we could see the incident that hurt us from the perspectives of any or all of those others, then our own grievance may suddenly appear different and less one-sided.
This is not always true, but it often is. I can think of one situation I know of where Person A was speaking of the way they had been mistreated by Person B. Those who heard this account, and who knew the background facts, were well aware that Person A was seriously deluded. They were convinced that they had “done nothing wrong”, but we all knew that they had.
It possibly wasn’t our place to say so, but if Person A had asked God, He would have revealed the fuller picture to them. That would have enabled them to see how, in fact, the mess they were in was partly caused by their own selfishness, pride, stubbornness etc.
What’s more, if Person A had really wanted to know the truth, they could have asked any of us and said: “Tell me the truth – did I contribute to the problem in any way with wrong behaviour or wrong attitudes of my own?”
Had Person A done that, we could have explained things to them gently. That would have made it so much easier for them to forgive the wrong (a real one) which had been done to them by person B. They would have seen the whole episode more clearly and fairly and in its proper context.