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Freedom from the Bondage to Offenses

By Dale A. Robbins

It’s 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.

It’s 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 26:3).

Guard from causing Offenses

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 Christ’s, 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 they’re 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. 6:14-15).
While often not realized, sensitive feelings are a means that Satan uses to oppress and manipulate people. Too often individuals lose their joy and live in defeat because they are so easily hurt or upset. It’s not uncommon for such persons to actually stop going to Church or serving the Lord over petty offenses. This type of tragedy is unnecessary if we can simply accept what really causes offenses and be willing to surrender the problem to the Lord.

The real source of Offenses

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 didn’t get my way... he was rude to me... after all I did they didn’t even thank me...I don’t get any recognition around here...he didn’t 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...I’m not important.” In reality, offenses are “a violation of self concerns.”

Immunized Against Offenses

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 don’t get hurt feelings anymore because they don’t have any feelings to hurt. They’re 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 can’t 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 offenses.

False Expectations

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).

Let’s 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 God’s 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). Don’t 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 Forgiveness

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).


This article (VL-122) is copyrighted © by Dr. Dale A. Robbins, 1990-2024 and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA - Nashville, TN. Unless otherwise stated, scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982. In some references to real persons, pseudonyms may have been used to preserve their privacy. You may download this article for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple use permission form. Many of our writings are also available as free pdf tri-fold pamphlets, which can be downloaded for reproduction from our Online Catalog. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain quantities of this title in other formats, email us. If you have appreciated these online materials, help us reach the world with the Gospel by considering a monthly or one-time tax-deductable donation.