It’s All About Offenses…
Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.
Offenses come in many forms. They can come through words or actions. They can be as small as hurt feelings or as big as causing another to sin through temptation to seek revenge. The fact is, we all have been offended in one way or another. Jesus never said that we wouldn’t be without offenses, but He told us what we should do when it happens…rebuke and forgive.
Many relationships have been damaged by offensive words and actions. Many families and friendships have been torn apart because of anger, hurt feelings and unforgiveness. Churches have been divided and people have left because of someone who offended them. Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is a must when someone has done something wrong to us or we will not be forgiven by our heavenly Father as it states in Mark 11:25-26:
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
He also states in Matthew 5:23-24:
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do when we have been hurt by someone’s words or actions or when we’ve been betrayed and let down. It may not be easy to do, but remember “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Jesus set the perfect example of forgiveness as He was constantly talked about, hated and was betrayed. Let’s make a note that He wasn’t hated because He did something wrong to someone. He was hated because He told the truth and others could not accept the truth. The Pharisees pride played a big part in their becoming offended by Jesus’ truthful words. They were doing wrong and Jesus pointed it out. They felt threatened by Him and became jealous of Him especially when people began listening to Him. After all, he was the son of a carpenter who had no formal education as they had and here He was telling them that they were wrong. Jesus went to the very core of their pride and it stung them. They now were determined to get rid of Him because they feared Him. When pride is pricked by truth, it feels threatened and will do whatever it takes to remain in first place. Pride says, “I know more, I’m better than you, you can’t tell me what to do and you will not take my position away.” Pride is never wrong, is unteachable and cannot accept the truth and therefore becomes offended. This is why we must surrender pride to Jesus and ask Him to help us to be more humble. To be humble means we must put others before us. We must be a servant to all as Christ came to serve, setting the example we must follow.
We are not exempt from offenses, but we can overcome them. Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 states:
Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
We have to realize that as much as we can become offended, we also have offended others in some way, shape or form. Sometimes we may not even realize it because the other person did not express it. Other times they may have mentioned it. How did you handle it when they brought it to your attention? Were you offended or did you ask for forgiveness? Jesus tells us we are to rebuke someone who offends us. Rebuke means to reprimand. In other words, tell them they did wrong. This means you must communicate. In today’s world, face to face communication, especially when there is a problem, seems to be falling away and communication through text, email, social media, etc seems to be the way to go. The problem with this is that you can’t hear the tone of voice or see facial expressions and body language. This means that there can be misinterpretations that can make the situation worse instead of better. Also, people seem to become more bolder when they aren’t face to face with someone and therefore react much differently behind a text or email than face to face, which can also make matters worse. Face to face communication (when possible) is a must if you want to resolve issues. We can’t forget the rest of what Jesus said…if your brother repents, forgive him, even up to seven times in a day. Talk about practicing forgiveness!
Another aspect of forgiveness is love. If we don’t have love, anything we say or do will mean nothing. Love helps us to forgive. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 states:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”
When we have love, we then can find it easier to forgive. Love does not want discord or separation. Love does not want to control people nor hurt them.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:8:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
God does not want one person to perish. He wants us all with Him. But in order to be with Him, we must be like Him. We can find traits of God’s character in Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
If you have been offended, God understands your hurt. He has been offended many times by all of us, but He continues to extend love and forgiveness when we acknowledge our guilt and repent. That’s all He asks us to do when others offend us, to love and forgive them. When we offend others, He encourages us to resolve the issue and ask for forgiveness because He doesn’t want us to be separated from Him from all eternity. When we are hurt, it’s very easy to isolate ourselves from those who have hurt us by walking away. It’s our wall of protection against any more hurt from that person. The problem is, if we do not know how to face those hurts God’s way and overcome them, we will be walking away from many people, even those closest to us. God is a God of reconciliation. He wants us to settle our disagreements and restore our relationships His way. Love and forgiveness is the medicine we must apply in order to overcome offenses.
If you are at a point where you are unable to face someone who has wronged you or hurt you, then pray for them and for yourself. Simply pray for God to bless them, heal them and restore them. Then pray for yourself that God will remove your anger and hurt and replace it with love and forgiveness. Continue this process daily until you feel the healing. Then do what you can to restore the relationship. There may be times when, due to the nature of the situation, you are unable to have this person in your life because they are not healed. This may mean you offer your forgiveness to them and leave the rest in God’s hands, praying for them. If you have offered your apologies and have asked for forgiveness and it is not accepted, know that you have done the right thing by extending your of reconciliation and continue to pray that God will dissolve their hurt and anger and heal their heart.
We must realize it’s all about the heart and God wants us to have a healthy heart and to be blameless before Him. We must not allow offenses to divide us but we must do everything we can to live peaceably with each other when possible as it states in Romans 12:17-18:
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Time is short. Do not let another day go by holding on to an offense. Ask God to break the chain of offense and to heal your heart. Repent from holding on to it and then pray for the other person as well. Once you do this, you will be free of this bondage of pain and bitterness. If you are the one who has offended someone, ask for forgiveness and apologize to them. You will not only set yourself free but you will free them from the pain as well. Pray for them that God will heal their heart from the hurt.
As much as we’ve been offended, we all have offended as well. It’s time to put our offenses to the side and do what God has called us to do…love and forgive.
Lord, I have both been offended and have been the offender. Help me to be able to love and forgive those who have offended me with their words or actions. I do not want to be bound by the hurt and pain any longer and I want to obey your commands. Give me the strength to surrender my hurt to you and pour out your love and forgiveness upon my heart. I repent of all the offenses I have caused others and ask for your forgiveness. Bring to mind anyone I may have offended and need to reconcile with and ask for forgiveness. Give me the courage to contact them to begin the process of healing. I ask that you forgive me for those I have offended or haven’t forgiven who have passed away. I forgive those who have offended me and pray you will forgive me for those I have offended. I ask this in Jesus name…Amen.