Proverbs 19:11 says, “good sense makes one slow to answer, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Sometimes we need to as the aforementioned proverb states “overlook an offense” and understand that “loves covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). I think most of us (yours truly included) are more apt to not overlook an offense than we are to overlook it. That being said, there are instances where it is appropriate and right to approach someone about something they may have done (or didn’t do) that offended you. But how exactly should you process whether or not you should approach the person? Brauns, in Unpacking Forgiveness: biblical answers for complex questions and deep wounds” give these steps:
- Before confronting, ask, “Have I examined myself yet?”
- Before confronting, ask, “How sure am I that I am right?”
- Before confronting, ask, “How important is this?”
- Before confronting, ask, ” Does this person show a pattern of this kind of behavior?”
- Before confronting, ask, “What do wise people counsel me to do?”
- Before confronting, ask, “What else is going on in the other person’s world?
If, after answering those questions you still believe you need to move forward with approaching someone, the question still remains, “how do I actually go about doing it?” Again, Brauns gives some helpful guidelines (taken from Matthew 18 concerning the actual process with several other passages cited as support for the manner of the process):
- First of all you should go: Keep the circle small; be gracious; no revenge, not even a little; listen first, and be prepared to ask forgiveness yourself; take the other person at his word; choose the time and place carefully; choose your words carefully; be patient and have modest expectations.
- Second, if necessary, take one or two others along: Go humbly; go urgently; listen first; do not assume that you know all the facts about a situation until you have heard input from the other party.
- Third, if appropriate, pursue church discipline.