Have you ever been offended by someone? Of course you have! I have too. It is a natural part of life because each of us is a unique individual that has different views, experiences, and opinions. We also get distracted, stressed, impatient, moody, sick, etc. and can sometimes say things in less that the best ways or receive things from others in ways they were not meant. All of this leaves us with the ability to be offended.
So, person X has just offended you. It happened. You are stuck with what happened because we have not developed a means of time travel. The situation occurred and how you have to live with it.
You have just been handed the ball and have been forced into the game. What do you do with that offense?
Do you choose to shut people out?
John 20:23 – When we don’t forgive others, we are holding on to offense.
Often we take offense — even when it’s not ours to take. The opportunity to take offense will come our way. We don’t have to go looking for it. When we do, we find offense in places where there is little or no cause for it. This is not simply foolishness, it is dangerous. It can lead to an overblown sense of victimization. Those who constantly take offense begin to feel as if life is not fair or that the world is out to get them. This mindset is diametrically opposed to Jesus declaration that Christians should “rejoice and be glad” when persecuted by the world (Matthew 5:11-12).
We must proactively forgive those who offend us, whether that offense is real or merely perceived.
Otherwise, we play the part of the angry, bitter, reactionary victim. In that state of mind, we cannot respond with patience and love. Instead, we respond in a manner that genuinely gives offense. This is true in society, church and family. Taking offense leads to conflict, strife and separation. It is the tool of the enemy. We must live differently if we have been changed by the gospel and by Christ’s love and sacrifice for us.
The enemy is going after our heart. He wants us to hate, hurt, lie, cheat, steal, deceive, and walk in brokenness. He wants us to be offended. Holding offense in our heart weakens it and makes it sick. Offense is a toxic element that poisons us from deep within. It will weaken our perseverance, shorten our patience, and reduce our capacity to love and to forgive. It will stand as a barrier between you and God. Hearts that hold offense grow cold and dull. With offense we are unable to receive fully from the Lord and to accept his blessings and holiness.
People are often unaware of the offenses they carry. It may come from judgements, convictions, or agreements made a long time ago. It is the hardening of our heart against a person, people group, gender, ethnic group, or culture. Holding onto offense will also lead us into sin over and over again. We need to address our offenses fully and completely by admitting them, renouncing them, repenting (which not only means letting go, but turning to God), standing against future offense, and resisting any temptation or opportunity to pick up the offense again.
We can be healed, released, and restored, but only through the Cross.
This Week: Forgive those who have offended you, just as God forgives our offenses. Resist the temptation to give in to the offenses of the world. Refuse to allow offense to live in your heart and poison you and your relationships.