How To Gain A Clear Conscience When We Have Offended Someone. Part 2
What basic steps should be taken in order to gain a clear conscience when we have offended someone?
In part 1 we said: Take responsibility for your actions.
When you have offended others, gaining a clear conscience involves taking responsibility for your actions, seeking forgiveness, and making restitution. The following steps provide guidelines for examining your heart and making things right with people you have offended.
We started with:
1. Identify those whom you have offended.
In Part 2 we will continue:
2. Carefully choose the right wording.
When the prodigal son decided to return home and ask for his father’s forgiveness, he chose the wording of his confession ahead of time. (See Luke 15:17–21.) You should carefully and thoughtfully select the best words to use in asking for forgiveness. Make sure that the following insights and attitudes are true of your heart and are expressed clearly in your words:
A. Identify the basic offense.
Put yourself in the other person’s place. Relive the offense through his eyes, considering what he must have felt and thought. The offense usually involves an underlying attitude such as ungratefulness, disrespect, dishonesty, self-centeredness, pride, or laziness. Confess your sinful attitudes and specific actions, and ask for forgiveness for them.
B. Demonstrate sincere penance and humility.
Before you go to another person to seek forgiveness for an offence, repent before God and ask for His cleansing and forgiveness. Then as you go to the offended person, let your attitude and manner reflect the humility of one who is asking for something he does not deserve. Be careful not to hint that you “weren’t so bad” or that “they were wrong too.”
Avoid making the following prideful statements:
- “I was wrong, but you were too.”
- “I’m sorry about it, but it wasn’t all my fault.”
- “IF I’ve been wrong, please forgive me.”
Here is a sample of an excellent request for forgiveness: “God has convicted me of how wrong I’ve been in _______________(basic sinful attitude and offense). I’ve come to ask, ‘Will you forgive me?’ ”
WARNING: These are examples of what a true confession to others should be like. These words or words like them MUST come from the heart. If not, people will be able to see through it.
C. Be prepared to make restitution.
Your confession should be accompanied by restitution for any personal loss that the offended one encountered in the situation. If you’re unable to make full restitution at this time, share your plans to do so as soon as possible.