Last issue we discussed how to handle offenses and what the Scripture has to say about a brother or sister who is offended or hurt:
Proverbs 18:15 – NKJV – A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city; and contentions are like the bars of a castle.
Sometimes, a person offended is harder to be won over than a fortified city. That’s how hard a heart can be of a person that is holding onto a huge offense, grudge or resentment. We discussed how that offense and that hurt can lead to a root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), how unforgiveness is not a place where we want to stay, as this can hinder our relationship with God (Matthew 6:14-15), and how there are ways Scripture tells us to deal with an offense (Matthew 18:15).
Most importantly, to bring your offenses and hurts to the Lord in prayer and be completely honest with Him, handing them over to Him. The Bible says this:
Philippians 4:6-7 – NLT – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
It also says this:
Hebrews 4:16 – NLT – So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
As believers, we can come boldly before the Lord to obtain grace and mercy in the time of need. And what a great need it is when we are holding onto an offense, a grudge, or bitterness. That’s the best time to turn that over to the Lord in prayer and allow Him to work in our hearts and break up some hardness that is deep within.
However, I would like to issue a challenge concerning both those who offend and those who are offended. And I say this very carefully and with humility, knowing that I am also still learning this lesson as well.
One of the things that God requires is for us to begin to grow up and mature in our personal relationship with Him. He wants us to become more and more like Jesus, as the Scripture says:
Romans 8:29 – NLT – For God knew his people in advance, and He chose them to become like his Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
So we have to begin to mature and take on the character of Christ in our lives so that we will react to certain situations the way that He would. We must ask ourselves, how would Jesus handle this situation?
So, first, concerning those who are offended: Sadly, some people are not just offended, but they are easily offended. Everything bothers them, and the slightest thing can set them off. They don’t like the way the pastor looks at them, or the pastor’s wife ignored them, or brother (or sister) so-and-so didn’t speak to them today. Little things that most people can just “brush off” and keep it moving greatly bother them and can cause an offense and cause them to become angry and hold a grudge.
Secondly, concerning those people who do offend others: there is a mentality amongst some that they can speak and say whatever is on their minds to others no matter what it is and regardless of how it may sound; they just feel like they have a right to call (as the saying goes) a “spade-a-spade” regardless of the other’s feelings.
Both of these types may need to ask the Lord for some help in growing up and maturing in this particular area of their lives. Those who are easily offended may need to realize that life does not always revolve around themselves. That people have things going on in their lives. Maybe the pastor wasn’t thinking anything when he looked at you, or his wife had a lot on her mind when she didn’t speak. Maybe brother or sister so-and-so was going through a trial in their life and may have just been tuning out everyone and everything while they were under pressure. Instead of being offended, maybe think through some of these things and pray for them.
The Bible says the following:
Proverbs 12:16 – NLT – A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.
Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get easily offended over everything. For those easily offended and those who are offended, one thing that helps is to realize that regardless of what you may perceive that someone else may think of you, God loves you no matter what. This helps a great deal when you don’t believe that you are living up to someone else’s standards and the potential to be offended at what others may think of you.
Ultimately, the solution to handling an offense on both ends is prescribed in the Bible, and considered the greatest fruit of all. And that is revealed in what is known as the “love chapter” in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – NLT – Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud; it does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
And in verse 13, it finalizes it with this:
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
We are commanded by God to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). There would be less and less offenses given and taken if we would truly love one another, not with the limited human love, but with the love that is given by God to us as His children through His Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:5 – NLT – And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
I would encourage everyone to allow God to love people through you, as you submit to His Holy Spirit in your heart. And remember, this kind of love is not always a “feeling”, but more an “action”. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words!