By: Lindsey Whitmore
What happens when I’m offended? What should be my response to offense? These are questions that seem simple to answer, but are extremely hard to walk out. However, this is exactly what Christ expects. The Word of God tells us nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, but it also tells us many things can keep us from having a relationship with Him, as our Lord and Savior.
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you… Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? ...For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:10-39 NIV
What Christ did on the cross was payment enough for everyone and for everything, but we have to live like we believe this. We must believe it first for ourselves and then for everyone else, including those that have offended, hurt, inconvenience, frustrated, lied about, or persecuted us in some way.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
How has God shown His love to us? He forgave us. He forgave us for breaking our relationship with Him. God, who is our Creator, our provider, our power, and holder of our very life, forgave us for the lie that we could somehow live without Him. This forgiveness was not without cost, just like Adam and Eve’s sin was not without cost. However, even knowing the cost, out of His great love, God still chose it. Through the shed blood of His one and only perfect Son, He sacrificed all so we could come back to Him and be all He originally purposed us to be.
His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! Hebrews 12:2b TPT
So what does love have to do with ‘What happens when I’m offended?’ or ‘What should be my response to offense?’ It’s simple: everything. Because of God’s love shown through Christ and because of Christ's command to us that we love others as He has loved us, we don’t have the right not to show love to others as He did for us. We are not allowed to hold onto offense; we must learn to let it go.
In his book The Bait of Satan, John Bevere reminds us of Luke 17:1, which states, “It is impossible that no offenses should come…” Bevere goes on to write, “Therefore we must be prepared and armed for offenses, because our response determines our future.”
When we are offended, we have a choice. We can either react, or we can allow a pause, giving Holy Spirit enough time to help us respond. Offense can come in so many forms, with much of it already predestined because of our chosen life posture. If we look to be offended, we will almost always be offended. However, when the offense is due to genuine mistreatment, that is when the choice turns to true surrender. We have to then ask an even harder question, Do I have the right to be offended?
In the book of Genesis, Joseph was going to be murdered out of jealousy by his brother, but was instead sold into slavery by the very ones he thought loved him. His future was written, but would it have been the same if he had chosen unforgiveness? His choice kept his eyes focused on God and his heart clean from the root of bitterness.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. Psalm 119:9 ESV
John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Christ Jesus. He lived his whole life in devotion to his mission. In the end, he was left in a prison cell with an impending death sentence because he offended someone. Alone in his solitude, he was left with much time to think back on his life and possibly question whether he had fulfilled his mission, or if there was still more. The Word tells us that he had heard about a man named Jesus doing miracles, and he sent his disciples to go find out if it was true.
Jesus’ response gave John the answers to what his heart was questioning. He had in fact fulfilled his mission. However, the last words were the hardest. Jesus said, “…And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:6) Showing us again, John’s future was already written, but he would, at the end, have changed it due to a lack of understanding and by giving in to unforgiveness.
In his book The Bondage Breaker, Neil Anderson wrote, “If you don’t let offenders off your hook, you are hooked to them and the past, and that just means continued pain for you. Stop the pain; let it go. You don’t forgive someone merely for their sake; you do it for your sake so you can be free. Your need to forgive isn’t an issue between you and the offender; it’s between you and God.” He goes on and explains we can accomplish this by forgiving another from the heart, “First you acknowledge the hurt and the hate. If your forgiveness doesn’t visit the emotional core of your past, it will be incomplete. This is the great evangelical cover-up. Christians feel the pain of interpersonal offenses, but we won’t acknowledge it. Let God bring the pain to the surface so He can deal with it. This is where the healing takes place.”
After you have taken these action steps, let go and let God work by laying your offender(s) and their offense(s) before the foot of the cross. Lay it down, and don’t pick it back up again. When temptation comes, remember God's Word says that He always provides another way. (1 Corinthians 10:13) The only way is to again choose forgiveness.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 ESV
This is not easy, but easy was never promised. The pathway that leads to life is very narrow and difficult. (Matthew 7:14) However, everything about what has been promised is good. Life eternal with Christ will be where no more sickness, sadness, or schemes from the enemy can come near us.
This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. 1 John 2:25 NASB