Opening a Closed Spirit
I don’t know if this will be a surprise to anyone, but sometimes I tick people off. Seriously. I don’t mean to (usually), but I’m just that dumb/pushy/insensitive.
The reality is, we need to learn to both seek and give forgiveness.
One of Jesus’ clearest teachings on forgiveness says: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Jesus is saying that forgiveness is so important to the condition of our hearts that we must do it in order to understand what God has done for us.
When I’m having trouble forgiving someone, I like to make a list of the things that I’m having trouble forgiving. Then I make a parallel list of all the things that Jesus has forgiven me for through His death. Without fail, the list of things that Jesus has forgiven me for is 10x longer than the list of things I’m holding against another person.
Paul challenges us to live with this attitude. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
We have all been in the situation when we’ve screwed up and needed forgiveness. We may have even come to that person and asked for forgiveness. Here are five suggestions from Dr. Smalley that we can use to help open a closed Spirit.
- Become soft and tender with the person. The first step is to become soft in your mind and spirit. Lower your voice and relax your facial expressions. This reflects honor and humility; and as Proverbs 15:1 suggests, “A gentle answer turns away anger.”
- Understand, as much as possible, what the other person has endured. It’s important to genuinely understand the pain your mate feels and how she/he has interpreted your offensive behavior. Ask for their interpretation of what occurred. The goal is to listen and understand what your mate is feeling. Resist defending yourself, lecturing, or questioning why he/she did or didn’t do something.
- Admit the person has been wounded and admit any wrong in provoking that hurt. The third step is to take ownership of your offensive behavior. A person feels valuable when hearing you admit your mistake, and sees that you understand how she/he feels. Sometimes this is all it takes to open a closed spirit.
- Touch the person gently. If you try to touch someone with a spirit knotted in anger, you will find out just how deep the hurt is. The first response may very well be stiffening or pulling away, but persistent softness expressed in meaningful touches, like the gentle massage of a knotted muscle, can go a long way toward draining anger and negative feelings.
- Seek forgiveness and wait for a response. The final step is to give the person the opportunity to respond to your confession. Ask if she/he could find it in their heart to forgive you. You’ll know true restoration has occurred when forgiveness is granted and she/he allows you to touch them.
May God Bless you as you seek to forgive and give others honor.