The Trap Of Offense
If you’ve lived in the vicinity of a human being, you’ve either been offended or had the opportunity to be. Today we seem to be offended at everything or take up an offense for our friends!! Like we don’t have enough offensive situations of our own…for the love.
But, why is this an issue? Why is holding onto offense a problem? What does it do “in” us? And how can we identify it in our hearts and get free from its hold over us? Let’s talk about that…
First let’s define what it means to be offended. It means, “to feel, or assume to be, injured or affronted, to become angry or hostile, the act of feeling anger or resentment. Offense left unhealed leads to bitterness and resentment. Resentment is a mixture of disappointment, anger, and fear.
It’s obvious we will have opportunities to be offended…every.day! We cannot control another human being, so we can’t control how they treat us or what they do to us. BUT we can control “how” we respond to them. We can only control ourselves, work on ourselves and deal with our self. God is not as interested in what someone has done “to” us as He is in ‘how” we handle it. Shocker I know. Because the world revolves around us right?!?!
Offense is an issue because:
1. My heart is the seat of my being; it’s where my life flows from. An offense is like a build up of plaque in an artery. If not dealt with it can cause our heart to quit functioning how it is supposed to. It will go from feeling offended, to resentment, then to full blown bitterness. Bitterness is pure poison to a believer. Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” It will kill our relationship with others and with God. Ephesians 4:31-32 states “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you.” It doesn’t say to forgive if they apologize or if you feel like it. When we allow bitterness to fester it spreads to every aspect of our lives. It taints our view of people and builds a wall between us and everyone else, including God.
2. Holding offense is really just refusing to forgive. Someone hurt us and we hold onto it making it impossible to forgive that person. The Bible is very clear in the area of forgiveness. Jesus forgave the very people crucifying him; Judas for betraying him, and you before you ever knew him. He did that to show us that it’s our responsibility to do the same. No one has hurt or offended us to the degree He experienced. Is it easy? No!! But to be saved and forgiven we must forgive. Colossians 3:13 states, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, BUT if you do not forgive others their trespasses NEITHER will your Father forgive your trespasses. Ouch…
3. “An offended heart is the breading ground for deception,” says John Bevere author of The Bait of Satan. Offense leads to deception because it clouds our hearts and twists our outlook. Offense is a trap, set by your enemy. The Greek word for offense is “skandaleon.” It is the part of the trap to which the bait is attached. Satan sets a trap for us by using people to offend us. If we fall for this bait we become trapped in offense. That is his plan, to trip you up so that he can destroy you. Again, it doesn’t matter if the other person was dead wrong, treated you shamefully or doesn’t admit their wrong. The point is that we forgive REGUARDLESS of what they did. What they did to us is not the point. The point is what will we do with what they did to us!
How can we tell if we are offended? The easiest way is when someone mentions the person’s name that hurt us how do we react? If we immediately feel a knot in our gut and feel frustrated or angry, we are offended. If we begin to talk negatively about them, we are offended. When we have an out of proportion reaction of anger over something small, you can bet there is some unresolved pain there.
Most angry outbursts are really based in fear, fear of being hurt. We build up walls to protect our hearts so that instead of being vulnerable and saying something hurts we deflect with anger. We have to check our own hearts. We can say we have forgiven but our hearts/reactions will always give us away.
The very best way to forgive and let go of an offense is to pray for our enemies. God’s Word tells us in Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love, [that is unselfishly seek the best or higher good for], your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. You can’t pray for someone who you are holding an offense against. But if you will begin as an act of faith to pray for them, God will come with His strength and help you to pray and release all of the hurt they have caused.
We need to realize, we have hurt people too. What someone has done to us we have most likely done something as hurtful to another person. Why is it we seem to magnify what others do to us while excusing what we do to them? That’s the million-dollar question.
Most of the time when we are hurt, God wants to use this situation to teach us. God calls us to walk in the fruit of the Spirit. That fruit is only developed as we use it against a problem. Like developing a muscle, we must use resistance against it to strengthen it.
God wants us to learn how to walk out the Christianity we say we know. Saying something and doing it are two different things. It’s so easy to acknowledge that we should forgive people, but to actually forgive a person is way harder. Christianity is sacrificial at its core. We must sacrifice our own right to be right when people hurt us.
Holding onto offense only imprisons ME. It doesn’t affect the other person. It’s spiritual suicide. We can’t let offense keep us from a relationship with Jesus. It’s just not worth what it will cost us. It will cost us more than we want to pay.
(If you want more teaching on the heart and these issues, there is a message on my website you can listen to. Just click on the Messages tab)