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Dealing with Offense

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. 
-Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV

Have you ever been offended to the point where you changed directions in your life? Have you ever regrettably ended a relationship because of offense? Have you ever allowed offense to cause you to say “no” when you wanted to say “yes” or say “yes” when you wanted to say “no”? Offense is not the problem in these instances. The problem is the spirit of offense. The spirit of offense is a nasty little gremlin that can ruin people and our blessings. The enemy loves to use the spirit of offense to bend us to his whims.

Offense is simply what happens when people hurt us. A spirit of offense happens when we don’t deal with the hurt, allowing it to fester and take over our thoughts and emotions. 

Let’s face it, there are many ways to be offended. As flawed human beings, the opportunities abound to be hurt and to hurt others. That’s why it’s important to show others love, grace, and mercy. This does not mean that we should be doormats but also doesn’t mean that we have to allow the spirit of offense to go unchecked in our lives. 

Offense can come in a variety of ways, including:

  1. Actual offense by someone (intentional and unintentional)
  2. Misinterpretation of a person’s actions or an event (this especially happens when we haven’t dealt with our stuff)
  3. Misrepresentation of a person’s actions or an event by a third party (gossipers, manipulators, and haters are known for misrepresenting people and events)

The enemy does not want us to know that even though it is hard to prevent people from offending us. The spirit of offense is preventable. How?

We find the answer in Ephesians 4:26-27, which says, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” 

Anger (expressed and unexpressed) is usually how we react to an offense. The issue is not the anger. The issue is what we do with the anger. We can choose to lash out or we can choose to go inward. When we go inward, we allow God to work on the wound until it is healed.  Psalm 4:4, “When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah.” Going inward happens in silence and stillness. When we give an offense energy, it creates a stronghold in our lives. This stronghold is the enemy’s grip on us, and it prevents us from living in the blessings and peace of God. 

Stop the enemy in his tracks:

  1. Don’t relieve the offense in your mind. Instead, picture the offense as a box on a boat sailing off permanently into the horizon, never to be seen again. Every time the offense comes to mind, simply picture it sailing away. 
  2. Don’t rehash the offense to others. If you must talk about it. Talk about it to God first. If you still must talk about it, choose one person and one person only. That person should be a wise and mature believer who knows how to keep confidence, knows how to pray, and is not afraid to stand up to the spirit of offense in you. 
  3. Don’t rehearse a reaction to the offense. Sometimes we don’t get to talk to the person who offended us. As a result, we may be tempted to rehearse a reaction in our head instead of crafting a Spirit-led response. A reaction says, “this hurts and you should pay for it.” A response says, “this hurts but I know God can heal me and help me forgive you.” Rehearse the response instead. 

Offense can suck the life out of you. It focuses you on the past and causes you to doubt the future. One of the best ways to get out of its clutches is to live in the present moment. We live in the present moment when we: 

  1. Flee from the temptation to fight – you don’t need to justify your hurt feelings, react to everything, or punish people for their sins
  2. Forgive the offense – as many times as it takes
  3. Free yourself from the offense – focus on what is in front of you not what’s behind you

Finally, remember that offense will happen, but being subject to the spirit of offense does not have to happen.

Prompts for Thought: Is there some offense that you have been feeding? If so, how can you stop feeding it before it becomes the spirit of offense? How have you dealt with offense in the past? How will you deal with it in the future?

Prayer for the Journey: Gracious God, we are so grateful that we can bring all our cares and offenses to you. Please heal our hearts when they hurt from offense. Please help us to forgive even when we can’t forget. Please help us to give the same grace, love, and mercy to others that we need when we are the offender. In Jesus’ name, Amen.