Several weeks ago, a friend and I were talking after Bible study, having conversation around what had been taught. In the middle of the conversation, my friend stopped, looked me in the eye and said, “You aren’t hearing from God in your life right now because you are holding on to an offense.” And then she went right back to the conversation we were having about Bible study.
Wait, what? My mind started retracing everything I had said to her that day. I didn’t say I wasn’t hearing from God. And I definitely didn’t say I was offended. I wasn’t offended, just struggling with being irritated with someone in my life who wasn’t acting right.
But as the night went on and I thought more on what she had said and I examined what was really in my heart, I knew she was right. I hadn’t even realized it was an offense and it was taking root in my heart. And I hadn’t realized it was impacting my relationship with God. I had been too busy checking off my marks of daily bible reading, going to church, doing bible study. But God was far from me because of the yuck in my heart.
I want to challenge you today to take a step back, examine your heart, and seek out if you are holding on to any offense. Maybe, like me you have been downplaying it. “It’s not really an offense. I’m just irritated at them.” Or you are justifying it. “Well, if you knew what they did. I have a right to be mad. I shouldn’t be treated that way. They are acting so wrong. They are the ones in sin.”
Are you holding offense towards your spouse, maybe for hurting your feelings, for not doing what you think they should be doing for the family? Are you holding an offense towards your pastor because you don’t agree with a decision they made for the church, they didn’t move forward with an idea you had presented to them, or they didn’t say hi to you when you walked by. Or maybe you are offended with your brother or sister in Christ because they said things that hurt your feelings, they didn’t include you in a get together they had, or they tried to bring something to your attention they felt wasn’t right in your life and you didn’t like it.
Romans 12:18 tells us, “If at all possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
We can’t control what others do or say, which is why the verse says “as much as it depends on you”. We control our reactions, our responses, and what we let take root in our hearts. When you come into the situations that someone says something that hurts you or does something you don’t agree with, what’s more important to you? Is it your pride? Is it being right and making sure others know you are right? Or is the most important thing to you walking in obedience to what God’s word says and making sure you have nothing that could come between you and God, regardless of what anyone else does?
If I am honest, sometimes my actions show that for me it’s my pride or wanting to be right, wanting retribution for wrong done to me. That’s what is in my heart and there are times I don’t even realize it. Praise God He reveals it through a friend who isn’t afraid to speak the truth to me.
God’s word tells us that we need to forgive just as we have been forgiven and if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. (Matthew 6:14-15). Ask yourself, is the offense you are holding on to against another believer worth not being forgiven by your heavenly Father for the things YOU have done?
Not dealing with the anger, the hurt, letting it take root as offense in your heart gives the devil an opportunity (Ephesians 4:26-27). Believe me, the enemy will take every opportunity he can. As believers, we are members of one another, one body in Christ, and offense causes division in that Body. Is the offense you have worth hurting Jesus’ body?
James 1:19-20 tells us “Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath. Remember that the “wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” You holding the offense isn’t going to bring about righteousness in the other person and it hinders righteous living in you. Is this offense worth it?
“Offense is a roadblock to effective and righteous living and the only person it keeps stagnant is us” Cleere Cherry Reaves
Paul says in Acts 24:16, “This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”
This is how we should live. Regardless of what anyone else says, does, or doesn’t do, or how much someone hurts us or angers us, or how much we think we are right and they are wrong, we should be striving to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. Let nothing stand between you and your race towards Christ. Let no offense knock you off the narrow path. Stand firm. Get rid of offense at all cost.
Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”