“ “Therefore , if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5 :23,24
It struck me as I finished my last post about unity that this theme was not finished. I started thinking how deeply offenses are hidden in us sometimes and even when we read the verse above in Matthew, that it would not necessarily bring conviction to our hearts if there was some kind of reconciliation or repentance needed. We need to keep a couple of things in mind like sometimes we have old wounds and we are ripe to be offended by something that was not intended as an offense. If the offense taken seems largely disproportionate to what happened, dig a little deeper. Still here we need to choose to walk in forgiveness. Then there are people who have legitimately been offended. We ask if we have a right to be offended and John Bevere said that an offended Christian who won’t forgive, is one who has forgotten what they have been forgiven of. Jesus paid a big price for our sins. We gave up our rights when we chose to walk with God.
Offense – annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles. Yes, it can start as an annoyance and this can easily grow to resentment if your standard or principle is legalistic and an expectation that everyone should think the same way as you. Our lenses of perception are often cloudy.
I will illustrate one subtle way we can become offended through a story about my writing. My husband says that I have a gift for putting things into words especially if it involves emotions. (good thing if I am a writer!) This is difficult for him to do but because it comes easily to me I create an expectation that it is easy for everyone. So if we are having a discussion and he takes time to process and sometimes a day later to discuss, it can be very frustrating for me. I can become offended at the lack of resolution. Now if I hadn’t learned through many discussions that played out this way that he needs this process time and I continued to be offended each time, this could build into something much more serious.
In Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about the signs of the end times and what will become of the majority of people. In verse 10 He says, “At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.” Many say that we are in the end times and these things are already happening. When we read this we may think of this in the extreme , say for example a Judas betrayal of Jesus or a hatred movement like Hitler. In his book The Bait of Satan, John Bevere says that betrayal means we seek our own benefit or protection at the expense of one we have a relationship with. So often this looks like withdrawing from a relationship even slightly instead of dealing with the offense. Add a bunch of these little offenses together and it could lead to hate which Mr. Bevere defines as an absence of love. This could look like the withdrawing and not really engaging in relationship with this person but not outwardly cursing them out. You know the ones that say well I have forgiven them but they want nothing to do with that person and each sighting causes a pain in their guts. He describes an example where somebody was being offensive to him to the point that others even asked if he was alright. He kept brushing it off and one day asked God if he actually was offended to which the response was Yes and he realized he had been too proud to say he was offended.
Jesus said to his disciples:”Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.” Luke 17:1 Herein lies your choice to become better or bitter. Offense will come and sometimes it will really hurt us. A lot of times it sneaks in and bites us in the rear end. Other times it is very obvious to others but our pride blocks us from seeing it. This is why it is Very important for us to spend time with Jesus and ask Him to search our hearts, to be quick to repent and also to have good counsel in the people who you associate with. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 Often God gives perspective to others to help you see things you can’t and to stay accountable in your actions.
As we get to know God’s voice better we will start to recognize the nudges in the subtleties. A frustration will turn us to repentance quickly and to bless the one frustrating us. A boldness will come in a situation that needs confronting. Forgiveness will come quickly in offense. A surfacing wound will get our attention and we will deal with it instead of stuffing it again. Our words will grieve our hearts and we will quickly ask for forgiveness. We will become more adept at taking thoughts captive that aren’t in line with God’s word. So dig in, know His voice and He will change you to become more like Him. Do all you can to keep unity. Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.