Fresh Hope – 22nd July 2019

Offence is holding resentment for being treated how you perceive, as unfairly. 

We will all have the opportunity to be offended at least once in our lifetime. Someone doesn’t behave how you would expect. Someone does or says something behind your back, or maybe they do it to your face. 

The question is not ‘will we get offended?‘, rather, ‘How will we handle it when it inevitably happens?’ 

Offence can seem justified and natural, but if left unchecked, it can quickly take root in our heart, leading to bitterness. Bitterness can then turn into hatred. The thing with hatred is that it leaves no room for love. We are not designed for hatred so it will eventually destroy us. 

So when we get offended, how do we manage it? 

1. Take it to God. Seek out wisdom as to what to do with it. It may be something you need to address with the person. It may be something you just need to let go of. ‘A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression’, Proverbs 19:11. It may be something that you need to wait on. It may be something you need to act on. James 1:5 tells us that, ‘if you ask for wisdom, God will give it generously without finding fault’. 

2. If the offence has been directed at you and you feel it is something that you cant let go, go to the individual privately. Do not broadcast the situation to others. Do not try and win people over to your case (Matthew 18:15-21). Make your approach in conversation honestly and with vulnerability, not in anger, attack or revenge. Your ultimate goal is restoration of relationship, peace and unity, not winning an argument. ‘Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’, Ephesians 4:2-3.

Sometimes the person who has offended you doesn’t even know it! Go talk it out! Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemyProverbs 27:5-6.

3. Check your heart. Why are you offended? Is it a righteous anger, or an anger rooted in your own insecurities? If you are coming from the wrong place, you will be offensive in return. 

4. Grow from the outcome. Whatever the outcome consider what you can learn from it. What have you leant about God? What have you learnt about people? What have you learnt about yourself? Moving forward, forgive the offender. Show in action and words that their offensive behaviour doesn’t have a hold on your life and that you trust God to deal with them! (Note, that this doesn’t always mean you totally trust the offender easily again!). Be the bigger person. ‘Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge’ (Romans 12:17-19)

5. Remember. Remember that we all fall short. We all have weaknesses. No one is perfect. When you consider where you have potentially offended others, it doesn’t justify their behaviour, but gives you a little more grace and understanding. Consider the person through God’s eyes and ask, ‘Why might they have offended? What is going on inside of them for them to behave that way?‘ This forces you to respond from a spiritual angle, rather than react from an emotional angle. 

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.