Take No Offense…
I’ve heard it said, “Holding a grudge doesn’t make us strong; it makes us bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make us weak; it sets us free.” Isn’t that the truth! Every single day, we are given multiple opportunities to be offended by others. Someone cuts us off in traffic – now we’re offended. Our husband or wife says something to us in a less than loving tone – now, we’re offended. We didn’t get the grade we thought we deserved – now, we’re offended. We feel like we were overlooked for a promotion – now, we’re offended. We find out someone has been spreading gossip about us – now, we’re offended. Our friend doesn’t want to do something we want them to do – now, we’re offended. In those moments, we have to decide if we are willing to trade our peace for offense. We don’t have to be offended. We choose to be offended. An offence is defined as something that is designed to irritate, annoy or anger; cause resentful displeasure; to affect disagreeably; to hurt or cause pain. If I don’t watch myself, picking up offences can become a daily habit. Luke 17:1-5 tells us, “He [Jesus] said to His disciples, “Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”” Jesus was telling us that there is no way getting around opportunities to be offended; however, when those times arise, the choice the believer must make is to forgive and let go. Upon hearing this, the disciples said, “increase our faith!” They knew how easy it can be to feel justified in our offended state. We need faith in God that when we release it to Him, He will take care of it and heal our hearts.
There are three types of offense we will face in life. The first type is imaginary offense. This happens when we perceive some type of hurt that is simply not there or didn’t happen. The next is accidental offense. This type of offense happens when a person unknowingly does something that hurts our feelings or upsets us. The third type of offense is real offense. This is when a person does something on purpose to cause pain to another person. We face these situations every day. They come at us like little presents waiting to be opened. When faced with offenses, we must decide whether we will pick them up or leave them there and keep going. Acts 24:16 tells us, “Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscice, void of offense toward God and man.” It will take exercise and determination to not be offended when bad things happen. If we are going to live a life free of offence and unforgiveness, we are going to have to daily work at it. Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally. Our flesh wants to get even or see people get what they deserve. This type of thinking is dangerous. It will evolve in to bitterness and slowly eat us up from the inside out.
So, how do we know if we are offended or have unforgiveness in us. When we take offense to things that have been said or done to us, we start rehearsing it to ourselves and others over and over again. Instead of dealing with what has happened to us, working through the pain, and giving it to God, we rehearse it, and we tell it everywhere we go. Have you ever seen a child with a boo boo? Most of the time, the child will want to peel off the bandaid and show and tell everyone what has happened. It is the same way with us. We have horrible things that happen to us or are said to us, and our natural reaction is to want to show everyone, tell everyone, and keep picking at the thing that happened until it becomes sore and infected. This is not God’s intention for our lives. There is healing for every hurt that we face. We don’t have to allow the hurts of life to consume us and control us. Psalm 55:22 tells us to “cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved. [1 Peter 5:7].” Another way to know that we are offended or have unforgiveness is if we are unwilling to go somewhere or do something that we would like to do, simply because there is a certain person at the same place. We are allowing ourselves to be controlled by that person. God doesn’t want anyone or anything controlling us. He wants us to be led by the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.” James 1:19-20 goes on to say, “Understand this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. For man’s anger does not promote the righteousness God [wishes and requires].”
God is calling us to forgiveness. I encourage you to let go of past hurts. You will never move forward in your life hanging on to the problems and circumstances of the past. God is not only calling us to forgiveness, He’s commanding forgiveness. Leviticus 19:16-18 says, “You shall not go up and down as a dispenser of gossip and scandal among your people, nor shall you [secure yourself by false testimony or by silence and] endanger the life of your neighbor. I am the Lord. You shall not hate your brother in your heart; but you shall surely rebuke your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. [Gal. 6:1; I John 2:9, 11; 3:15.] You shall not take revenge or bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. [Matt. 5:43-46; Rom. 12:17, 19.]
So, God is telling us, don’t gossip about everything that is going on around us. Don’t hang on to grudges. Be quick and ready to forgive! Matthew 6:15 says, “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” I don’t know about you, but I need the forgiveness of God. I don’t want to go through life bitter and resentful over things that have happened in the past. I encourage you, if you have unforgiveness or offense in your heart, do as the Disney movie once said, “Let it go!”