I have to admit, I’m a person who becomes easily offended. When people say things, I tend to replay their words over and over again in my mind.
I pondered this for a long time- wondering why this has come to be. I found the culprit to be in our culture. Someone seems to always take offense against someone else. Men vs. women. Blacks vs. whites. Working people vs. non-working people. Heterosexuals vs. homosexuals. Republicans vs. democrats. And the list doesn’t stop with these.
These grand scale offenses must come from a long-term collection of smaller offenses. It just doesn’t occur overnight. And I, for one, have allowed myself to fall into the trap of collecting small offenses in my heart.
The moment that I pour out my heart’s offenses to someone other than the one who offended me, I have sinned. It becomes a complaint. It taints the perception of that individual in someone else’s mind. It turns what could have been a blessing into a curse.
“And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds.., but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”- James 3:6-10 (NLT).
It surely is not right! Taking offense to a person causes more harm than the words they spoke to offend me. I can assure you I that I don’t want to be that kind of person. Nor does God want me to be that way. His instructions for me are concise:
- Ask God to show me my offenses and the source in which they come from. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”- Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
- Express my sincerest regret of my wrongs to Jesus, who saves and frees me. “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.”- Acts 3:19 (NLT)
- Confess my fault of offense to the one who offended me. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”- James 5:16 (NLT)
- Resolve in my heart to extend love for that person moreover the problem. “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.”- Proverbs 10:12 (NLT)
- Steer clear of offensive ways defined by culture. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”- Romans 12:2 (NLT)
I must cease from defending these collections of small offenses before they ever have a chance to become a grand scale offense. I have now been made aware that God gives me a provision for my offenses. He can take the sole responsibilty of those offenses. And, He can block them from penetrating my heart. Praise and thanks be to God Almighty!
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”- James 3:17-18 (NLT)