I am a naturally offended person. It’s my defense machinism against being rejected and ultimately hurt. I have held offenses like a bride clutches her bouquet, each thorny rose drawing the blood of remembrance. The feeling of indignation would rise up a sweet smelling stench to my mind. I purposely placed my heart on my sleeve so that the slightest graze of injustice ignited a firestorm of anger, hostility, and a grudge that could never be settled. I have been petty at the highest levels, a soldier turned four-star general in being offended and walking in unforgivenss.
But thank God for the Holy Spirit. As I have grown in grace and matured (a whole lot), I realized that walking around offended really didn’t damage anybody else but me. Everybody for whom I had a personal vandetta never even knew just how upset I was. I ate misery while their lives moved on without much more than a passing wondering at what was wrong with me.
I have since released all that hateful bile in a sea of forgiveness and repentance. Now I actively avoid huff. When someone slights me, I charge it to the game. Not the game of the world, mind you, but the spiritual one. I understand better and better that what I am up against usually has nothing to do with me; rather, I recognize that the person (being hurt themselves or even ignorant to how they are coming off or even intentionally trying to needle me) has an issue that has to do with their own heart and personal development. I simply refuse to take on the infirmity of their souls in an effort to keep my own peace.
That is not to say that I don’t get hurt anymore. I am still human, and it burns when people disabuse me. Yet that very same humanity is what helps me rise above the sting. How many times have I myself hurt someone with sharp words, a haughty manner, a holier-than-thou attitude? How many times have I struck out at someone with intent to maim them in some way? How many times have I accidentally said or done something that caused another harm?
Too many times, I’d imagine. And while it may bother me, the sphere in which I am moving gently reminds me of the grace that I have been afforded when I was the culprit. How can I claim to be a child of God and not do the same for others? That’s not how it works.
When God delivers us from ourselves, we aren’t to wallow in guilt–but neither are we to forget where we have come from. We cannot ever earn or repay the grace in which others have moved around us. All we can do is pay it forward.
If you are a person who finds yourself in a loop of offense, I want to encourage you. You can be free of that millstone and be at peace by:
Meditating on the word of God. There are plenty of wise sayings throughout the Bible that can get your thinking back on track when you find yourself rehearsing an offense over and over. One that I just learned today is
“It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.”
Proverbs 20:3 KJV
Reflect on your own growth in the Lord. Nobody is perfect; we all strive toward perfection. Thinking about where you used to be and where you are now always brings the current situation into perspective. It enables you to look at another person through God’s lens.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Romans 3:23 KJV
“Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;”
1 Chronicles 16:12 KJV
Pray for those who cause you to be offended. The hardest of the 3 things to do, this step is the most important. In praying for those who harm you, you counteract how you feel; you also counteract the spirit in which they move. You allow God to help you grow up and plant a seed in the life of someone who maybe doesn’t even know God or may still be maturing. And, you are walking in perfection, as God is perfect.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43-48 KJV
Offense can destroy you. Learn to run away from it as fast as you can so that your heart may be at peace and your spirit may be aligned with the will of God.