In church yesterday, our Pastor preached a message on Offense. It is a very touchy subject for most of us if we are honest. He said a couple of things that I know really struck me.
“Wounds are what were done to us. We have no choice in the matter. Offenses are those things that we choose to hold on to.”
What does the Bible say about offense?
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
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. Ecc. 7:21-22
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Lev 19:18- I know this one was written to the Levitical priesthood, but under the new covenant, we are declared priests before God.
So, here’s the gist. it is not God’s will that we should harbor offenses against anyone, no matter what has been done. That’s a tough edict because many of us have been through hardships that might have broken us except for the grace of God. Here’s the thing, though. Christ WAS broken and battered beyond compare for our sins, yet he forgave us with his dying breath, loving us so much that he saw his pain as worth it, that we might all be together in unity on that great day when He returns.
Think about that. His body was all but destroyed. Yet He harbored no offense. He was rejected and despised, yet harbored no offense. He was spat on. No offense. When He had the power in his pinky finger to demolish the earth and everyone on it, HE chose to walk in love. Some of you might say that He had no choice, because He is God, and God is love, but I believe that Jesus had a choice every day and He chose the way of purity.
The hard truth is that because He was able to keep his heart guarded against offense He expects us to do the same. We have His Spirit running inside of us with the express purpose of helping us to live as Jesus lived. When we choose to harbor offense about anything and toward anyone, we are building a fence between our hearts and theirs.
Where there is a fence, there is a lack of the type of unity commanded to exist in the Body of Christ. There is danger where is there no unity.
I think about sheep hanging together. The sheep that stay on the fringes, or separate themselves from the group, become easy prey to be picked off by the lions and wolves. When we choose offense over forgiveness, it becomes far easier for us to be picked off.
No matter what has happened, our responsibility is to guard our hearts and choose every day to not walk in offense. We must choose to forgive. That relationship may not ever come back around, but that’s not the point. Our hearts are precious to God, and so they must be guarded with all that we have within us.
So, let it go. Your heart will thank you for it.