To Win -- Learn to Overcome Offense

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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 remember such an experience and it wasn’t fun. . .it fact, it hurt very deeply. This person is someone for whom I had helped and over time had made them a substantial amount of money.

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. Even though he was wrong. . .they believed him and their perception of the events he described. . .became their new reality.

I’ll be honest . . . the things said wounded me. . .and could have caused me to become deeply offended …until I realized what the enemy was trying to do. He wanted nothing more than for me to be offended and hurt. . .thus opening myself to further and greater attacks by him.

It is not an easy task … BUT Never give place to the enemy. . .never allow him to even stick a big toe in the door of your mental thought processes. Give him no place.

Offense is a foul trick of a mean devil. Instead of falling into offense…consider it a compliment. Yes, you heard correctly. The devil attacks those who have potential for good in the Kingdom of God.

According to the word offense means:

“an act of stumbling; a cause or occasion of sin: stumbling block; something that outrages the moral or physical senses.”

Julie Meyers, worship and prayer leader said:

“Offense never lets you go. You have to let it go.”

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.

It reminds me of the time we spent the night with some long-time friends. Our bed was so high off the floor that our hosts placed steps beside the bed for easier access to where we’d be sleeping.

The stairs were cool. . .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. When you’ve been offended. . .when you’ve stumbled. . .it may hurt but you need to get up and keep walking.

Here are seven things we need to remember when we’ve been offended.

1.         Remain calm

Have you ever heard the expression:. . .if someone offends you don’t mad, get even?

Try this one instead: if someone offends you don’t get mad or even …get ahead.

The first reaction to an unfair accusation can be your flesh rising up … desiring to get even. However, if you’ve been offended the best way to get ahead is not a retaliatory strike against the person but rather a 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 we can seek is one that diffuses the issue and minimizes what the enemy is trying to accomplish. In other words, remaining calm in the midst of the storm.

One of the greatest character building tests is how we respond to betrayal, rejection and being misunderstood.

It is the toughest type of Christ-like training you can go through but it is giving you the opportunity to overcome what many do not… choosing the victory of the Spirit over the trials of this world.

I Peter 3:17-18 in the Classic Amplified Bible says:

For [it is] better to suffer [unjustly] for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than to suffer [justly] for doing wrong.

“For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit,”

The scripture points out that by Jesus choosing to suffer he gained a great victory in the Kingdom. The one we thank Him for every day.

2.         Love them anyway.

If you look in “Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus” for an antonym for hate you would find the word love.

If someone has offended you. . .your flesh cries out in hate … but God’s Word says we should respond with the opposite. . .it should be love.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

As Kingdom citizens it is our duty to bring love into a world already full of hate. We are the salt that makes it palatable. We are the light when the dark clouds gather.

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. . .and believe me, that makes us pawns of our enemy not the God that loves and saved us.

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.”

The only way to effectively change someone’s perception is through conviction and revelation by the Holy Spirit. But that is His job not ours.

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 whose 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 put it in the hands of the only One who can make it right … if He chooses to do so.

Romans 12:19 in the New King James Version says:

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” says the Lord.”

One way you win. . .and one way you lose. Allow the Holy Spirit to plead your case.

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. . .in that you know the difference between right and wrong or good and evil?

Proverbs 19:11 in the Message Bible says you will prove it by your actions:

“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. That’s exactly what God did for us.

Jeremiah 31:34 in the Contemporary English Version says:

“. . . I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things they have done."

How can we do any less?

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 giving 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 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 problems, 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 there is something He wants you to do, He will show you.

6.         Identify the causes 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 17:27 in The Living Bible says:

“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, chose a different university than the one they picked or supported a rival political party or candidate.

It is unfortunate that things like this happen especially from those we love; however, we are not compelled to be controlled by others to avoid offense. We are to forgive and hope that they do too.

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 way more than it does the other party.

John Bevere, the noted author and speaker said:

“Offense cuts you off from God. We separate ourselves from the pipeline. I've never seen anything block blessings from Heaven except offense.”

I’m going to give you several reasons why offense can hurt you. . .but truthfully, this one gets my attention the most.

Psalm 66:18 says:

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

If you have offense against anyone else. . .it will hinder your prayers to God.

Who doesn’t want God to hear their prayers?

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.

Sometimes this is not possible. Perhaps it was a parent who has now passed on … and yet you realized you were offended by their behavior. Even if a person is alive it does not mean they will accept your apology.

The direction in scripture is that we forgive. That is the cleansing agent in a spiritual offense. That takes the burden from you and causes them to be the one who must bear the burden by their choices.

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.”

The Word of God gives us direction on how to avoid offense and strengthen the depth of our character.

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.”

One final word from the Word. Offences will come … but it is our choice to make them destiny shapers or destiny breakers. We are called into the Kingdom to make a difference. That means the stronger our character, the more dynamic we can be.

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 my opening story. . .the person who had offended me. . . apologized to me in less than 24 hours. There will be times this will happen and we have a happy ending. But there may be times it may not happen on this side of eternity. The importance lies not on the incident and more on our response to it.

Once last quote by Joyce Meyer who said:

“Most of us have hoped and prayed for something to happen a certain way, but it didn't. And when this happened, we had a choice to make: to react with offense toward God or to trust Him anyway.”