We know that offense is Satan’s number one weapon against us, and he uses it through deception. When scripture talks about a strong city, it is referring to the walls that were built around a city to protect it. When we become offended, we build walls to protect our hearts; these walls are called strongholds. The walls we build cause us to believe the people we have relationship with begin to take on the look of “betrayal.” The word betrayal means to be false or disloyal; to lead astray or deceive. When we become offended it looks like we have been deceived or someone has been disloyal to us. An offended heart is one that carries false and deceptive words, thoughts, or imaginations.
Proverbs 18:19 says: “A brother offended (offense) is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel.”
Two causes of offense
John Bevere in the book “Bait of Satan” says there are 2 ways we become offended:
- We are genuinely mistreated.
- We “think” we have been mistreated.
Some offenses can truly hurt us. Divorce, addictions, loss of a family member, etc. Even in these cases offense can come, because it is meant to isolate us from God and from each other; that’s the enemy’s plan! But even in these areas we are called to forgive. Matt. 18:21 tells us we are to forgive 70 times 7 in a day! There isn’t enough time in one day to hold onto unforgiveness. We would have to forgive every 3 minutes, and that would mean we would have to stay awake all day and all night!
Forgiving an offender when they have truly hurt you doesn’t mean what they did was right, or that you are releasing them from any consequences; but it does mean you are freeing yourself from the hurt so God can move in that person’s life. There are consequences to everything we do in life. There are good consequences, and there are bad consequences; but in any experience they come.
Next, we have the one who thinks they have been mistreated. Yes it hurts, yes you perceive they hurt you or wronged you; but the truth is, you didn’t get something you desired and that is what offended you. Examples include:
- a job
- something you think a friend or family member should have done
- a loved one correcting or giving instruction you don’t want to receive
- a leader not recognizing your gift or talent
- wanting more in the relationship than someone is able or willing to give
These all fall under “you thought you were mistreated.” Prides hides our offense, because we see it as a weakness. So we build walls, separate ourselves, and never go to the people or person to talk with them. Scripture says:
Matt. 5:23-24 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the alter, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the alter, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Matt. 18:15-18 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault in private; If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
How to avoid Offense
Proverbs 18:1 says: “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, he rages against all wise judgement.” Isolation is a sign of offense and deception. Now remember, this is the enemy’s garden. When the enemy plants the seeds, we begin to water them with our thoughts, imaginations, and words. Once he has planted the seeds and we begin to water the ground of offense, it then takes root and begins to grow without a humbleness before God, or holding ourselves accountable to close friends, or seeking forgiveness from the offense. We begin to fertilize the seeds of offense, pull the good seeds that the Lord has planted in our hearts, and tend to the weed that the enemy has planted..
Set realistic expectations
When a person holds someone to a higher expectation than what is reasonable, then that person will become easier to offend. Sometimes we put expectations on people and they have no idea. We do not allow them a chance to share their heart. That causes the person with the wrong expectations to unknowingly begin to seek their own desires and not the best of others, and it makes it easier to become offended. Notice, it can come unknowingly, because it is deception.
In the end, Forgive.
God tells us to pray for anyone that holds unforgiveness towards us or us towards them, but we are also called to forgive them. You see, if we bind ourselves to the earthly systems and practices, then we have bound ourselves from heaven’s systems and practices. But if we go to our brother or sister in love, share our hearts, and ask for forgiveness or receive forgiveness, now we are loosening heaven on earth, and then we see the Kingdom of Heaven moving in our behalf.
When we have been hurt, we can let that go, like water off a ducks back. There are things I rehearse over and over again, because I truly want to let it go. I don’t want to believe the lie. How do I know when I’m believing a lie? I am depressed or oppressed and begin to pull back from those who have hurt me. My mind says they really did me wrong; but truth says forgive and let it go, or that was a wound of a friend and not the kiss of the enemy. When I say wounds, I’m not talking about the wounds of a friend, I’m talking about real offenses that have truly wounded you. Those take time to heal. We work on it earnestly, so that we are freed and the offender or offenders are loosed from our stronghold on them.
Don’t forget love.
We need to be spiritually exercising forgiveness and love. When we do, offense will be harder to attach itself to us. We are easily offended if we are not spiritually in shape, reading the word, praying, and going to church. All these things are disciplines that we as Christians we are called to do. Don’t get religious about it, but we are expected to keep the word before us, pray, and gather in fellowship with believers. We are called to place ourselves under healthy leaders that can speak into our lives and hold us accountable.
Healing comes when we pray for the offender and forgive or ask for forgiveness. These are action words. You are either moving towards them or they are moving towards you, but movement is happening. You are not moving away from each other. We forgive so we can be reconciled, we repent so we can turn from offense and move to forgiveness and reconciliation.