I was reading a book when I came across a powerful quote by Pastor Joel Osteen who said:
“Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you're doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you.”
Have you ever had someone say something to you that cut you to the quick? Something that wounded you deeply even though you knew they were wrong in their assessment?
I had such an experience and it wasn’t fun. . .it fact, it hurt very deeply.
This person is someone for whom I’d done many things for over the years . . . made decisions and suggestions that literally made them millions of dollars.
These friends had listened to a third voice. . .one that sought to advance himself at my expense. These friends assumed the third voice was correct. . . because he was part of their family.
Though he was wrong. . . their perception of the events he described or alluded to. . .became their reality even without hearing the other side.
I’ll be honest … the things they said brought me to the point of offense. But then, I realized what the enemy was trying to do. He wanted me offended and hurt. . .thus opening myself to further and greater attacks by him.
Thanks be to God that I realized this first. You see, offense is a foul trick of the devil.
Never give place to the enemy. . .if you allow him to even stick a big toe in the door of your mental thought processes, you are inviting offense …and along with offense comes strife and every other evil.
Looking at James 3:16 in a number of translations shows us exactly what the enemy is up to when he uses others to attack us … or God forbid us to attack others:
The New Living Translation says:
“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”
The King James Bible says:
“For where envying and strifeis, thereisconfusion and every evil work.”
The Message Bible says:
“Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.”
According to dictionary.com the word offense means:
“an act of stumbling; a cause or occasion of sin : stumbling block ; something that outrages the moral or physical senses.”
Offense is an act of stumbling. . .it will cause you to break your focus. If you stumble you’re no longer concerned about where you’re going. . .but rather, the immediate desire to keep from stumbling.
A while ago, we spent the night with some long-time friends. Our bed for the visit was so high off the floor that our hosts placed steps beside the bed for easy access to where you’d be sleeping.
The stairs were impressive. . .until 4:30 in the morning when I was making a trip to the bathroom not realizing the exact location of those steps in the dark. . .I stumbled and fell. . .at that moment. . .my focus was definitely broken.
My big toe was slightly hurt but I got up and kept walking toward my goal.
Offense . . . is a devil-contrived trap to make you stumble. . .it may hurt but you need to get up and keep walking.
Here are seven things to do if you’ve been offended.
1. Remain calm
Have you ever heard the expression. . .if someone offends you … don’t get mad, get even? That is the world’s solution to offense and we see how well the world is handling problems.
But how about this: if someone offends you … don’t get mad, don’t get even . . . just get ahead!
If you’ve been offended … the best way to get ahead is not a retaliatory strike against the person but rather calmness in the midst of the offense.
James 1:19 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.”
When most people become angry they lose control. Have you ever thought about who gains control when you lose it? The enemy does. That’s why he wants you angry and filled with thoughts of reprisal against the one who has offended you.
Ecclesiastes 10:4 in The Living Bible says:
“If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest.”
The most appropriate response is one that diffuses the issue and minimizes what the enemy is trying to accomplish. In other words, remain calm in the midst of the storm.
Can you guess who said this next quote?
“When adversity strikes, that's when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on.”
It wasn’t Jesus, Paul, Billy Graham or Creflo Dollar.
This powerful advice was given by LL Cool J, one of the stars of the television show NCIS LA.
2. Love them anyway
If you look in “Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus” at the antonym for hate you would find the word love.
If someone has offended you. . .your response should be the opposite of hate. . .it should be to love them.
Proverbs 10:12 in The Living Bible says:
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. “
I’ve been the recipient of the truth found in 1 Peter 4:8 in the Amplified Bible on so many occasions. The verse says:
“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].”
I rejoice that love has covered the multitude of my sins on so many occasions.
Here’s the question. . .if love has covered our sins. . .shouldn’t we be as willing to allow it to cover the sins of others without our trying to expose or inflame them?
If we’re unwilling to cover someone’s offenses then it means we’re unwilling to love them. . .
Matthew 6:14-15 in the New Kings James Version says:.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 in the New Living Translation says:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
3. Perception determines reality
In your mind. . .you may have done nothing to offend anyone else. However, their perception becomes their reality.
Acts 25:8 in The Living Bible says:
“Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”
I’ve discovered over the years that the absolute best way to effectively change someone’s perception is through conviction and revelation by the Holy Spirit.
Every day in our judicial system innocent people are convicted for crimes they didn’t commit. If the jury returns a guilty verdict against an innocent person they’ve done so on what they perceived to be the reality in the situation.
However, the truth of any situation is determined by a person’s perspective which can often be affected by the voice they’re listening to.
There will be times in your life when you’re blamed or perhaps even condemned for something you didn’t do. You can choose to get offended or get over it.
One way you win. . .and one way you lose. Either way, allow the Holy Spirit to plead your case.
Here’s something to live by.
“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish motives.
BE KIND ANYWAY.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.
BE HONEST AND SINCERE ANYWAY.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
BE HAPPY ANYWAY.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
DO GOOD ANYWAY.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
GIVE THEM YOUR BEST ANYWAY.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God;
IT NEVER WAS BETWEEN YOU AND THEM ANYWAY.
This powerful quotation was by the late saint Mother Teresa.
4. Overlooking an offense makes you a winner
Are you a smart person? I’m not asking if you’re a member of the Mensa Society but rather are you smart because you know the difference between right and wrong or good and evil?
Proverbs 19:11 in the Message Bible says:
“Smart people know how to hold their tongue; their grandeur is to forgive and forget.”
Have you ever heard someone say they don’t have a lot of book smarts but they have plenty of common sense?
If you want to be known as someone with common sense then you must learn how to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19:11 in The Living Bible says:
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Regardless of which translation you use. . .the message is the same. . .if you are smart and have common sense you will learn to forgive and forget. After all, that’s what God does for us.
Jeremiah 31:34 in the Contemporary English Version says:
“. . . I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things they have done."
Should we do any less?
1 Kings 8:50 in the New Living Translation says:
“Forgive your people who have sinned against you. Forgive all the offenses they have committed against you. Make their captors merciful to them.”
Here’s one more confirming verse. Proverbs 17:9 in the Amplified Bible says:
“He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.”
5. You don’t know what ‘they think they know’
Have you ever had someone give you the cold shoulder or completely ignore your calls or emails. . .yet you have no idea why?
The person refuses to talk. . .so you’re left playing the game twenty questions without the benefit of their response or seeming interest in your concern.
Genesis 31:36 in The Living Bible says:
“Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me?”
Laban didn’t want Jacob and his wives to leave because he had benefited greatly as a result of Jacob and he knew it.
Genesis 30:27 in the New Living Translation says:
“Please listen to me,” Laban replied. “I have become wealthy, for the Lord has blessed me because of you.”
There will be times when people act in a certain offensive way. . .not because of what you’ve done. . .but due to their own selfish motives or hidden agendas.
If you don’t know when, why or how you offended someone. . .ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you. If it is important that you know, He will reveal it to you.
6. You may know the cause of offense
Jealously is a primary cause for offense.
Matthew 13:57 in The Living Bible says:
“And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”
Not doing what others think you should be doing can cause offense.
Matthew 17:24,26 & 27 in The Living Bible says:
“The collectors of the Temple taxcame to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”
“Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house.
But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him,“What do you think, Peter?Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”
“They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied.
“Well, then,”Jesus said,“the citizens are free!
“However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
I have known parents who became offended because their children didn’t pull for the same sports team, attend the same church, choose a different university than the one they picked or supported a rival political party or candidate.
Unforgiveness toward others is offensive.
Do you remember the parable of the King who had mercy on a servant and forgave his debt of ten thousand talents?
The servant whose debt had been forgiven later refused to forgive a small debt he had with someone else. . .so he had him thrown in prison. When the king found out that the forgiven servant had not forgiven others. . .he was furious.
Matthew 18:32-33 in the New Living Translation says:
“Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’”
There is no justifiable reason for having an offense in the Kingdom of God.
7. Offense hurts you more than it does anybody else
I’m going to give you several reasons why offense can hurt you. . .but truthfully, I only need to give you one.
Psalm 66:18 says:
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
If you have offense against anyone else. . .God will not hear your prayers.
I personally think that scripture tells us all we need to know . . .however, I feel impressed to go a little further.
Matthew 5:23-26 in the Message Bible lays out how we’re to conduct ourselves if we have been offended.
"This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.”
The scripture is quite clear. . .if you have unforgiveness in your heart. . .go make it right even before giving an offering. The scripture clearly states that our offering will be hindered if there is offense in our hearts. It is so important that the scripture says to drop everything and deal with it immediately!
I think it’s also significant that it says the offended person should go seek out the person who has a grudge against them.
Matthew 18:35 in the Amplified Bible says:
“So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses.”
You never want your offense to become a stumbling block for someone else.
2 Corinthians 6:3 in the Amplified Bible says:
“We put no obstruction in anybody's way [we give no offense in anything], so that no fault may be found and [our] ministry blamed and discredited.”
Now here are a few scriptural thoughts on overcoming an offense.
Not being offended by an obvious offense is a reflection of the depth of our character. When we are able to overlook offense, it builds our character which is why God allows it in our lives.
Colossians 3:12-14 in the Message Bible says:
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
We should be quick to forgive an offense.
Matthew 18:15 in the New Living Translation says:
“[Correcting Another Believer ] “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”
Finally, Jacob’s message to Joseph conveyed by his brothers. . .is really God’s message to us as well.
Genesis 50:16-17 in the New Living Translation says:
“So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept.”
One final word of scriptural advice for those who have been offended before I close.
James 5:16 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”
Now here’s the rest of the story. . .the person who had offended me . . . apologized to me in less than 24 hours. Why? Because I made a very conscious effort to make my attitude right. . .for which, God gets all the honor, the glory and the credit.
He really will fight our battles … when we let Him.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS