Whether you’re a believer or not of Jesus Christ, we’ve all experienced offense. You may be surprised that believers and non-believers share many of the same everyday struggles. The difference isn’t WHAT we experience; it’s WHO we experience them through.
Offense shows up as an annoyance or irritation and quickly compounds to bitterness and resentment. Offense occurs when we’re blamed for something that wasn't our fault or when others get the credit for something we did. It happens when we're ignored or lied to.
A few years ago a friend said he was in trouble and needed money. I loaned him some and was told it would be paid back within 2 weeks. After a few months, I asked if I could have the money back, to which I was told that he'd already paid me back. He lied about it. I was offended. I felt deceived and I was angry. I blamed him for not being honest and myself for being an idiot to trust him in the first place. I started to think thoughts like, "I never should’ve trusted him. I can’t believe he disrespected me by lying to me." These thoughts eventually led to "Maybe I shouldn’t lend anything to anyone."
The bitterness and resentment that grows from offense is like a poisonous gas. It doesn’t affect only you. It spreads and poisons everyone around you. Focusing on the offense only multiplies it. Before you realize it your bitterness extends to work, with friends or family. Even strangers offend you just by how they look at you.
Watch carefully that no one falls short of God’s favor, that no well of bitterness springs up to trouble you and throw many off the path.
Hebrews 12:15 (VOICE)
Giving more attention to the hurt than what we give to God will keep us in offense. To move through it we need a strength and ability that does not come from within ourselves, but from God. God is sovereign, meaning all power and authority belongs to him. Even so, he created us with free will. He gave us the freedom to choose because He wants our choice to be Him. Will you choose Him or will you choose to remain offended? Choosing God means He becomes our greatest desire. In everything we seek his thoughts and his ways as they higher than our own.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
God wants you to release your anger through forgiveness. Forgiveness releases the supernatural power of God. It releases grace. Praise God, he loves and created us to be pure, whole, blameless and complete in Him. His perfect love makes up for where we fall short every day. He doesn’t love us based on our poor behavior or our good works. There is nothing we can do to earn more of his love or to diminish his love for us. Grace is His undeserved love and favor for us. The moment it is deserved, it is no longer grace. With offense, God extends grace.
We are forgiven for our sinful ways by the richness of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7 (VOICE)
A great starting point is to confess your hurt and offense to Him. Tell God what you’re angry about. Talk to him in the same way you talk with a good friend. Because he already knows everything, whatever you share won’t be a surprise. There is power through confession as it releases you from the heaviness of the burden you’ve carried all this time.
If we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.
1 John 1:9 (MSG)
As Christ followers we have the ability to see our circumstances from God’s perspective.
Ask Him to help you see the circumstance as he sees it. As I asked God for his perspective with the friend who didn’t pay me back, my eyes were opened to possibilities. What if my friend couldn’t pay his rent and was about to evicted? What if he gave the money to another friend who couldn’t afford to feed her kids that month? What if God was using the situation to help free me from my own greed and to build hope and trust in Him to richly provide all my needs? Taking my eyes off the offense and turning to him softened my heart and allowed me to see something I never saw before.
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)
The question that remains is what will we choose? Will we choose offense? Or will we choose God? Of all people, nobody has been more offended than God. Having paid the ultimate price, he sacrificed his One and Only Son Jesus Christ so that we may live. He did it for our freedom. Do you believe it?
As a believer you have the privilege of walking in his freedom every day. Are you doing it? Or are you still caught in offense? Whether you’re a believer or non-believer, you can surrender your circumstances to God in this moment by saying yes to his love, goodness and his faithfulness. It’s as simple as praying:
"God I give up control. I recognize I cannot live well on my own. I say yes to you. Will you come into my life? Forgive me of my sin. Cleanse me of this offense and bitterness and renew in me a new heart that is filled with your love and your grace. Amen"