Have you ever been hurt by someone? Have you been offended at something that was said or not said, done or not done? I would venture to say that most all of us have. Looking across my own life and experience, I have seen how subtle offenses can quickly pry open old wounds, resulting in broken relationships, betrayal and bitterness that is kept for an entire lifetime. I’m convinced that offense, bitterness and envy, things that Jesus seeks to expose and remove from our hearts, are some of the primary reasons that His disciples forsake assembling together. Many Christians have settled for a “churchless Christianity” because they are bound with hurt and un-forgiveness, so they choose to avoid the vulnerability, accountability and responsibility that comes with church community, and rather, they surround themselves with people who will feed their insecurity. This is dangerous and unbiblical. The Bible speaks of a great falling away that will come before the return of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:3), and many wonder how something like this could even happen, but I believe that offense will be Satan’s greatest weapon in that day to divide and conquer.
And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (Matt. 24:10)
Jesus, enduring the most offense out of any human in history has every right to be hard and bitter, yet He mercifully opens up His heart to us time and time again! In His short time on earth, He was despised, rejected, mocked, falsely accused and betrayed, while receiving little encouragement from His closest friends. It is nearly impossible to be alive and avoid offense, but we can avoid giving in to the temptation to retaliate or retain that offense. Being easily offended is more than having a sensitive personality; it is a spirit that has been around since the fall of man. Cane carried the spirit of offense, which led him to murder his own brother (1 Jn. 3:12; Gen.4:1-16). Cain saw how the Lord was pleased with Abel and blessed him, therefore, he became very angry. God told Cain, “You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master” (Gen. 4:6-7). The offense came as a test, and Cain had a choice on how he would respond. This article is not trying to justify the hurts that you have experienced, but rather my goal is to expose their existence, so that the Lord can heal and restore you. It needs to be dealt with in the heart, not concealed in the heart. Bitterness is like a poison that you drink expecting someone else to die from. Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, but it sets you free.
Jesus had what I call an un-offend-able heart, not that He diminished sin or the wrongfulness of other’s behavior, but He didn’t let it rule Him. He responded to the many offenses hurled at Him by silently going to the cross and dying for the very people who mistreated Him. God wants us to have an un-offend-able heart for the sake of freedom, so that our love for Him and others will not be hindered.
How do we obtain an un-offend-able heart?
- Connect to Church Community (Eph. 4:1-6; Heb. 10:25)
- How does God deal with us when we are easily offended? He offends us. God offends the mind to reveal the heart. Most of the time this is done through family members, church members, and spiritual authority that God has placed in our life. We shouldn’t be shocked at this, but we should learn to commit ourselves to God and ask Him to help us respond in the right way.
- God desires that we remain connected with people in community because He uses its relational pressures and tensions to mold us into the image of His Son.
- It’s fascinating how the human body works to heal itself when it is injured, but this can’t happen if the injured body part is disconnected from the body. We must stay connected to the Body of Christ!
2. Learn to Be Secure in His love (1 Jn. 4:16)
- If we don’t know who we are to God, or have the assurance we are loved by Him, then we will quickly search for identity and approval elsewhere. Insecurity is an open door for the enemy to breed all sorts of evil in our hearts.
- We must take time to meditate (think deeply) about what the Scripture says about us as we ask the Holy Spirit to show us. We must spend more time in His Book than Facebook.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere without offense till the day of Christ. (Phil. 1:9-10)
3. See the Bigger Picture (Isa. 49:1-5)
- Jesus lived before the eyes of His Father, knowing that He sees and judges righteously. He is our Avenger.
- If we don’t know that His eyes are on us, then we will quickly become bitter when we don’t receive credit from man for our devotion.
- We must constantly refresh our perspective in light of eternity, for our Father sees us in the secret place. He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
- We learn faithfulness and humility in the hidden years, and the Lord esteems it greatly. Like an arrow is prepared and hidden in a quiver before it is launched toward its target, must we embrace the seasons of hiddenness as unto the Lord where we feel the most under appreciated.
4. Be Merciful & Bless Our Enemies
- Being merciful can also mean giving others the benefit of the doubt. Many people get hurt by something that the other person is often unaware about. We must have mercy toward them in these situations.
- Our “enemies” or adversaries are those who intentionally slander, accuse or oppose us (Our actions, values, words, biblical stances, etc). To bless them implies more than just forgiving them and praying for them, but actively looking for ways to give to or serve them without expecting anything in return. Jesus commands us to do this because He knows that it will transform our heart over time if we stick to it.
5. Take up Our Cross
- In the event that you are wronged, keep in mind that the first one to the cross wins. One of the best ways to combat offense is to transfer our personal rights to God. Nobody can hurt us if we have already died to our self and surrendered our sense of entitlement to God.
- One of the core issues is that we naturally expect that people (and God) owe us something, thus when we are let down, we become offended.
- Our lives are not our own (Gal. 2:20).
Side Note: Being unoffendable does not mean we are to be apathetic toward sin, but rather we are to respond to that which comes against us, not out of hurt or revenge, but boldness, gentleness and meekness.
Pursue peace with all people…lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…(Heb. 12:14-15)
Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matt. 5:22)
But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. (Matt. 5:39)
Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…(Matt. 5:44-45)
Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained a brother…(Matt. 18:15)
Blessed are the merciful…(Matt. 5:7)
Blessed are the peacemakers…(Matt. 5:9)