Have you ever offended someone? Have you said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, or simply made choices that others disagreed with and it somehow offended them? I am honest enough to say I have done it. My intentions are never to offend others, but it happens inevitably at times. Sometimes we can offend without even realizing it and other times it is obvious to everyone.
Have careless words from others ever wounded your heart? Maybe it was words spoken by a spouse, friend, sibling, parent, or an authority figure. It seems like those closest to us can leave the deepest wounds in our hearts. What did you do with that offense? Did you stew over it, hold on to it as your “precious,” give the cold shoulder and avoid that person, or let go of it?
In the past I’ve been a person that was easily offended. I’ve learned now that holding on to an offense will rob me blind and lead me to places I never intended to go if I let it. Holding on to that offense, only hurts YOU in the end. Offense left alone will grow and fester like an infected wound. It will cause you to become a bitter, angry person who looks nothing like the person who first faced that offense in the beginning.
An offense is choosing to place a “fence” up in your lives to keep people out. My husband is the most forgiving person I know. He has told me several times in our marriage when I was offended with him that “if you are offended, it’s because you have offense in you.” Good reminder. Who have we placed the fence up in our hearts and lives to keep out?
I read a good book in the past that really opened my eyes to this called "The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. It really helped me see how I had put unrealistic expectations on people that they had no idea about. They could never measure up in my eyes and I never gave anyone the benefit of the doubt. My first thought was negative and the worst case scenario. I learned that it wasn’t fair to do that to others. If the tables were turned, I would never want that to be thought of me.
Why do we do it? Why do we choose to hold on to offense? I remember one night seeing what I was doing in a picture in my mind. It was as if I was a prison guard and each person that had offended me was locked up in their own cell with me holding the keys. The problem was that I was the ONLY one allowed to guard them and be in possession of the keys that held their freedom.
As I began to pray and ask God to search my heart, He convicted me of my behavior. My passion to punish those who offended me was paralyzing my ability to be used by God. My life was consumed with retribution. God convinced me that He would do a better job at that than I could. He wanted the keys and He wanted to transfer ALL the prisoners I was holding into His capable hands. The day I gave the keys to God was the day I was set free from years of offense. What a feeling! I felt lighter inside… the burden I was carrying was GONE.
I can’t say that it’s been easy since then. Habits were formed, but God is bigger. I am LESS likely to choose to be offended now, because I’m not willing to pay the price to hold on to that offense. I like to choose to give the “gift” of the benefit of the doubt to others. It’s the gift I would like to receive from them.
What do you do when you are offended? Are you are “record keeper” or a “gift giver”? Record keepers keep track of how they have been wronged or how others have “failed” them. They keep a mental list to track any person that has ever offended them. Gift givers give freely the gift of the “benefit of the doubt” and a second chance. They have learned that life is short and it’s not worth holding on to an offense. How do you want to respond the next time you are offended?
I Corinthians 13:4-6 says…
“Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.” (GNT)
Choose to show love to others by letting go of offenses and loving them unconditionally. No matter what the offense, let God have the keys to the prison doors you have locked them up inside. We need to trust that He knows what is best for them! God always has your best interest at heart. It’s not easy, but it’s always worth it.
Living to leave a legacy,
15 hours ago