Ask a person, “Did I offend you?” & you’ll sometimes get an answer like, “What? No. I’m not offended.” Even if they really are. I don’t think its because we’re all liars who sit on a Throne of Lies who smell like beef & cheese; I think it might be because we think being offended is a bad thing, & so, rather than acknowledge, “Yeah, what you said really bothered me,” we go into denial or avoidance mode. And that’s where the trouble starts.
A couple weeks ago, I was almost done with our “Be At Rest” series & needed another one to take us up through September 3rd. (Long story, but the nutshell version is we’re launching our Fall series, “Perseverance: a study in the Psalms of Ascent” on September 10th.) So, after praying about it, I decided to do a series on being offended. And here’s some of what I found.
There’s about 3 different words (2 Hebrew/1 Greek) that are utilized to describe/define offense. In essence, the 3 say: OFFENDED: to stumble, trip over a stumbling block, to get tripped up. To be wronged/violated/rebelled against. Stumbling blocks, points of offense. A trap/traps.
Something that causes you to stumble. A stumbling block. A trap.
Offense/being offended is NOT the EMOTIONS that come with the (real/perceived) being wronged, hurt, let down, disappointed, violated, etc… by another person/persons. Taking offense/being offended is the result of our RESPONSE to being wronged or being hurt. It’s putting ourself in a place of judgement upon others. It’s covered with unforgiveness, denial, & pride. Here’s some of what I’ve discovered happens to us when we take offense/stay offended:
- Offense limits the miraculous/God’s work in our lives
- Offense breaks up/damages relationships
- Offense introduces judgement by us, which then brings us under God’s judgement.
- Offense causes us to be stuck until we thoroughly deal with it
- Offense cuts off our ability to produce Godly fruit in our lives – NOTE: this doesn’t mean God stops working in/through/around us. It doesn’t – because God doing those things in us etc… are the result of spiritual gifts. Godly fruit in our lives comes from living congruently & faithfully following God & His principles. (Thank you John Bevere for that.)
- Offense causes us to focus solely on the person/persons who hurt us & what they did while ignoring/glossing over our own role/responsibility/fault in the matter.
- Offense can be transmitted to other people completely uninvolved in the situation, causing them to stumble & become trapped too.
So, how do we deal with it? How do we get out of the trap & back on our feet? It’s easy. And it can be the most difficult thing we will ever do.
For starters, WE DIE. (See Galatians 2:20 for more on that.) We die to ourselves. We lay down our pride. We process our feelings, our emotions, & take stock of the hurts. We repent for holding on to unforgiveness. We ask God to help change our heart, change our thinking, change our ways. We answer the question: “Could you be wrong?” affirmatively, knowing that our perception, no matter how much we think is the RIGHT one, could be off. And so could we. We invite the Holy Spirit into the process, & pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23,24 –
Search me, O God, & know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, & lead me in the way everlasting
And we stay at it – & refuse to be offended, choosing instead to be a person who takes God’s point of view on our lives, vs. our own. We embrace God’s ways & means, & lay down our own, believing His to be far better. And you know what happens then? This. Peace.
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165.
Guess what the root word that’s translated there as “STUMBLE”. Yep. Its one of the words from above, one of the words for OFFENSE.
Love God & His law, & you will have a great & divine peace. Nothing will be able to make you offended.