Jesus Himself promised that offenses will come. In Luke 17:1 (NKJV) He plainly says:
“It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
Offenses may be hurled at us by others, or we may invent them from unintentional slights or misinterpreted actions of others. We can TAKE offense from others, or MAKE it an offense when it isn’t even intended!
And when offense comes – how are we to react? Proverbs 19:11 sheds some light on this:
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (NIV)
While that sounds good, it seems easier said than done. It’s sometimes hard to overlook, forgive and forget an offense. And sometimes offenses have a long shelf life. In some cases, they continue to offend for years.
And what did Jesus mean by offenses? The Message translation uses the phrase “hard trials and temptations” in Luke 17:1. The NIV renders the KJV offenses as “things that cause people to stumble.”
What are some practical examples of offenses?
- Lori is angry because Larry got the promotion. She felt she was passed over because she’s a woman. Lori is hurt and offense leads to bitterness.
- Allison is miffed because her husband didn’t remember which outfit she wore on their first date. She added that to the long list of his faults she was compiling.
- Bill has always been jealous of his older brother John. John got new clothes – Bill got hand-me-downs. John was the star athlete – Bill wasn’t. Bill was offended by having to grow up in his big brother’s shadow.
- Ethan’s blood pressure spiked and his vocabulary crossed the line when the slow car in front of him made him late to church. He was offended by that driver.
It doesn’t violate the spirit of Jesus’ words if I say that offenses have come, they are coming and they will come. You and I have been, are being and will be offended. The solution is not avoiding offense. That is simply impossible. Neither is the answer to grow a thick enough skin that the darts and arrows of offense ricochet off us.
Our answer to offense is to respond correctly to it. Offenses will come, but our reaction to them programs the destination of our journey into our spiritual GPS. The wrong reaction will take us places we don’t want to go.
When offenses come, we can nurse those grudges. We can care for them, feed them, change their diapers, relive them in our memories – and eventually these offenses grow up and begin to dominate our thoughts, our feelings and our lives. They become strongholds. That is NOT the answer to dealing with offenses.
When we recognize an improper, sinful response to offense bubbling up in us, we need to deal with it as God would want us to. We need to repent because the Kingdom of God is at hand. We recognize, renounce and repent to re-set the destination of our spiritual GPS and set sail towards the prize of our high calling.
Explaining this clearly in a short teaching is hard to do. Some offenses have been held onto for years and reading a brief lesson on them may not be enough. If you sense that last sentence touching your heart, perhaps you need to come to an RLI conference. That will give God an opportunity to deal in depth with all the hurts and offenses that are weighing you down and keeping you from running the race as you should.
Check the RLI schedule of upcoming events and clear your calendar. Isn’t it time for you to be free from all these offenses?
We’ll save a seat just for you!