Freedom from the Bondage to Offenses
Its probably happened to all of us at some time or
another. Someone offended us by what they said or did. According to the Merriam-Webster
Dictionary, an offense is something which outrages the senses. Those who are
offended are sometimes described as hurt, wounded, upset, insulted, disappointed,
irritated, angry and so forth.
Its unfortunate that offenses ever occur, but
the Bible indicates that if we keep our focus upon God and His Word, He will maintain such
peace in our heart that we can become resistant to offenses. Great peace have they
which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (Psa. 119:165 KJV). Obviously,
offensive things will still come our way, but we need not be offended by them. The Lord is
our reliable source of peace in all the circumstances of this life. You will keep
him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You (Isaiah
Guard from causing
We are also charged with a responsibility to guard
our own conduct from causing offenses which could harm the faith of other believers.
Jesus gave a somber warning, reminding that we are
accountable for the care of our brethren. He said, It is impossible that no offenses
should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if
a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he
should offend one of these little ones (Luke 17:1-2).
Before we start demanding our rights to
speak and act any way we please, we must remember that we have been bought with a price (1
Cor. 6:20). We are no longer our own. For none of us lives to himself, and no one
dies to himself... (Romans 14:7). We are Christs, and those who are mature in
the Lord should show patience and consideration toward the brethren who are more sensitive
and weak in their faith. Paul stated, We then who are strong ought to bear with the
scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves (Romans 15:1). Jesus laid down his
life for us, and we are called to lay down our life for the brethren (1 John 3:16).
We must try to encourage -- not discourage -- the
faith of our brethren, especially those who are weak in the Lord. But also be aware that
it is not possible to completely protect sensitive Christians from all offenses. They
cannot live in a glass bubble to avoid exposure to every problem and imperfection. All
Christians must mature and become strengthened in Christ and His Word so that they will
become resistant to offensive behavior. Christians have to develop thick skin
if theyre to survive the disappointments of people and circumstances.
In Bondage to Offenses
There are some Christians who walk in bondage to
continual hurt feelings. They love the Lord, but have somehow resisted submitting their
sensitive feelings to the Lord. Unfortunately, these touchy Christians are
sensitive about too many things. They spend much of their time, hurt or upset at people or
circumstances. For these ones we must continue to be loving and patient, while encouraging
them to grow up. We must go the extra mile to avoid offending such persons, but we must be
aware that their sensitivity is brought about by their own inner, personal struggles.
There often seems to be a chip on their
shoulder which is quick to misinterpret most things as an offense. They usually blame
their offenses upon others, but fail to recognize their own touchiness. This usually
indicates deeper wounds, emotional scars, and insecurities which they must allow the Lord
to heal. In some cases there may be harbored sins of unforgiveness toward others which
have caused a root of bitterness, which must be surrendered to the Lord (Heb. 12:15, Matt.
The real source of
Persons who cause offenses are usually easily
offended themselves. Why is this? Because being offensive and being
offended have the same root -- self!
A self problem can usually be easily
identified with a person who is rude or inconsiderate. Their offensive behavior stems from
their self-centered attitude, disregarding the feelings of others. However, a self problem
also exists with the individual who, though they may seem to be more considerate and
unselfish, are still easily offended.
Hurt feelings and offenses always have something to
do with self;I didnt get my way... he was rude to me... after all I did they
didnt even thank me...I dont get any recognition around here...he didnt
shake my hand...he took advantage of me...and on and on. Even feeling sorry for
yourself or pity parties are rooted in self: Nobody cares about
me...Im not important. In reality, offenses are a violation of self
What is the cure for this self problem? A preacher
once said, Dead men never get offended. How simple, yet powerful is this
statement! Obviously, people in graves dont get hurt feelings anymore because they
dont have any feelings to hurt. Theyre dead to self.
The solution to offenses is that we must fully die
to self! We must become totally immersed in the identity and person of Jesus
Christ, dying to self and allowing Christ to live through us. I have been crucified
with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me... (Gal. 2:20).
Jesus taught that this is the way of the Christian life, that if anyone wants to follow
Him they must take up their cross daily (Luke 9:23).
This is the same principle of James teaching
when he said, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James
4:7). The passage is saying, in order to resist the devil, submit SELF to God, and
the devil will flee from you. The old self nature is what Satan uses to hinder us
(Eph. 2:2-3). If we live according to the leading of the flesh, Satan will continue to be
able to oppress us with offenses, upset emotions, hurt feelings, not to mention many other
problems. You cant stop offensive things from coming your way, but you can eliminate
what offenses feed on: Self! When we finally die to self, we will become immune to
Most hurt feelings occur from the result of
disappointments in people. However, we should know better than to put infallible
expectations in imperfect human beings! The Bible states very clearly that our
expectations should only be placed in the Lord. My soul, wait silently for God
alone, For my expectation is from Him (Psalms 62:5).
Lets face it! People are going to frequently
fail and let us down because all mankind is under the influence of a fallen and sinful
nature (Rom. 3:23). Although Christians are forgiven and have Gods presence in their
lives, they still make mistakes and will sometimes fail. The Apostle Paul described his
own conflict with the old nature: For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh)
nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do
not find (Romans 7:18).
Mature believers should know not to put an
infallible sense of trust in other Christians, even in pastors or ministers, realizing
that these leaders are still just human beings, capable of making errors or committing sin
(2 Cor. 10:12). Even the Apostle Paul warned us not to merely follow him, but to follow
his example of following Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). Dont put your eyes on people that can
fail, but keep your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2). He will never let you down! It is
better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man (Psalms 118:8).
Apply Love and
False expectations in people can result in
disappointment and hurt feelings, but the Bible says that love and forgiveness
will keep us from stumbling. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there
is no cause for stumbling in him (1 John 2:10). The Lord has not called us to put
our expectations in people. He has called us to love and forgive them! And be kind
to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave
you (Eph. 4:32).
Love is the ultimate cure for offenses. It will eradicate self-centeredness that thrives on its own interests and rights (1 Cor. 13:5), and will forgive those who disappoint us. ...for love will cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).