Why are offenses so dangerous?
Strong cities of ancient times had walls around them as their protection. They kept unwelcome invaders out; all entrants were screened. Those owing taxes were not allowed in until they paid. Those considered a threat to the city’s health or safety were kept out.
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” – Proverbs 18:19
When we are hurt or offended, we construct walls to safeguard our hearts and prevent any future wounds. We become selective, denying entry to all we fear will hurt us. We filter out anyone we think owes us something. We withhold access until these people have paid their debts in full.
Here’s why that is so dangerous. Eventually, the walls we erected to protect us, become the walls that imprison us. At that point, we are not only cautious about who comes in, but so in terror of future injuries that we cannot venture outside our fortress. If left unchecked, our walls of offense will turn into a prison of bitterness.
“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” – Hebrews 12:15
If roots are nursed, watered, protected, fed and given attention, they increase in depth and strength. If not dealt with quickly, roots are hard to pull up. Think about this. If I allow myself to become offended and make a choice to not forgive and move on. I am allowing a root of bitterness to grow inside of my spirit. The more I nurture my offense, the stronger and deeper than root can grow. I’ve heard bitterness defined this way, “bitterness is just unfulfilled revenge.” Ouch.
Imagine how different Joseph’s story would have been if he had allowed himself to become offended. What made Joseph so special, is that Joseph refused to let another person’s sin affect his relationship with God.
Joseph lost his everything (at least temporarily), but still had the right to choose his response. When faced with the bait of offense, Joseph chose to forgive. Had Joseph gotten offended, he would’ve killed his brothers 20 years later when he had the chance. Instead, Joseph forgave them.
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” – Genesis 50:20
Forgiveness is the only cure for offense. When we forgive, we release the power of God to bring good out of a bad situation!
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
We often assign blame – “If it weren’t for so-and-so or such-and-such, then I _____. My disappointment is their fault.” But absolutely no one can determine the trajectory of your life. Only you can thwart the will of God in your life, only you can allow circumstances to determine your future. How? By getting offended!
Opportunities to give in to offense present themselves to everyone at one time or another. No one is exempt. We all must continually guard our hearts against the temptation to become offended and harbor grudges and other negative emotions. However, with every opportunity for offense, God also gives us an opportunity to forgive.
“Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 GNB
You have a choice! No one has the power to offend you. You make the choice to be offended or not. Take control of your emotions, don’t let people affect your relationship with God, or your relationship with others. Don’t harbor unfulfilled revenge in your spirit. Don’t allow the root of bitterness to grow in your heart and destroy the future God wants to give you. Reverse the curse of offense today. Forgive.