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OFFENCE

The Sin of Offence

Offence is one of the most dangerous sin; yet it seems like nothing because those in this very dangerous ‘so easily besetting’ sin believes that they have the right to feel how they feel. They have justified themselves. Thus, offence is a very self-seeking, self-gratification and all that is of self, sin. Offence operates under the disguise of self-pity. It indulges the flesh and pacifies it; by telling it that it has the right to feel how it feels. It has a very strong defence that is levied at the offender whether innocent or guilty. One example of the first offended person takes us back to the first book of the bible in Genesis. The danger of the offended is that such person always want to get back at or get even, or even to get rid of the one whom they believe as offended them whether real or make believe. An offended person rarely takes correction and is completely blind to the truth at hand.  

When Cain was offended because he did not do well with the offering that he offered to God. Instead of taking God’s correction. Cain paid no attention to God’s warning and avenged his own brother whom he believe was the hindrance in his way. How many of us knows that we have not done well yet we want the same recognition that others get. Like Cain, many people believes that they have the right to how they are feeling and so they projects all their hate and anger at whomever they think is in the way of what they believe should be theirs.  Thus, those who are offended rarely listens to reasons, they are irrational because they are driven by their feelings. However, followers of Jesus are cautioned and warned by Jesus not to take offence. Sadly, the most fertile breeding ground for the sin of offence is within the “Body of Christ.” People get easily offended if:   

  • They are corrected
  • They are not recognized
  • They have been disappointed
  • They believed that they were overlooked
  • They have hurt feelings 
  • They feel that they have been unjustly treated
  • Their expectations are/were not met
  • They think they know better
  • They think they are right
  • They takes sides
  • They have a grandiose opinion about themselves or their abilities

 

Dealing With Offence 

Everybody, every human being who ever lived and those who are still living on earth, has been offended. Not once, but many times. In some cases, many, many times. Offences can come in many different ways. Someone says something to us too harshly—or at least we interpret it that way. We have a certain expectation and it was not met or we become disappointed in something or someone; in which case it lead to us becoming offended. Another way many people take offence is if, they hear something that was interpreted to be negative towards them, especially if it is about their culture, family or friends etc. It can and does occur when we perceive that we have been ignored, overlooked or given a responsibility we do not want. Or we become offended when we are blamed for something we did not do, or on the other hand, when we do not receive credit for what we did do. We may be offended when someone has been inconsiderate or thoughtless or has used us for their own purposes. Only the Lord knows how many believers are locked into ineffectiveness and robbed of the joy of the Lord due to offence. Many relationships that were once close and cherished have been devastated and others are marred by underlying offence. However, we should not be surprise that we live in and at a time when we become easily offended.  Jesus foretold in Matt. 24:10, that in the end times many will be offended, and even further that this state of offence which will cause them to be susceptible to false prophets. Even more shocking is the fact that many are stumbled and fall away because they are offended with the Lord! (Matt. 11:6; 13:57; Luke 7:23.)

Victor Hafichuk “Cain is the father of the offended”

Being offended means that you feel you have been unjustly treated, or, if not unjustly, at least treated in a way unacceptable or undesirable to you, even unforgivably so. You will not be satisfied until there is some sort of compensation, if only an apology. Even then, you may not be appeased, though you hear from God as did Cain. Being offended usually means that you assume certain motives on the part of the offender, and react to what happened as something that could have and should have been prevented. Being offended is the very opposite of forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you pardon another his offenses towards you, whereas being offended means you hold on to a grudge (as Cain did with Abel), even where there is no offense (as with Abel towards Cain). 

Pride and selfishness most often cause offendedness. But for God’s grace, we all have an image of ourselves that is selfishly biased. We forbid anyone touching our ego. When that forbiddance is violated or overcome, we are offended.There are many ways in which pride can cause one to be offended. For example, competitiveness grows from pride, and the acceptance of someone over us, or instead of us, leads to envy. What is envy, except another way of saying, “You offend me because you have what I lack or want”? With Whom are you offended, really? Is it not with God? “A man can receive nothing unless it is given to him from Heaven” (John 3:27 NKJV). Once again, being offended comes from pride, an expression of self-righteousness that is contrary to God’s sovereignty and His righteousness. Cain believed his sacrifice – his good works – should have been accepted. Jesus said: “And blessed is he, whoever shall not be offended in Me” (Matthew 11:6 NKJV). I have had people offended at me, in some cases because I have done them wrong, but in most cases because I spoke the truth frankly about them and they did not like it. They were bitter and would not forgive, no matter what I did. So is fulfilled the proverb: “A brother offended is like a strong city; and their disagreements are like the bars of a fortress” (Proverbs 18:19 NKJV).

You have heard one say of another, “So-and-so is so easily offended” (or “so sensitive”). Paul speaks of people who are easily offended, but who are not in the least hesitant to offend. We live in a day of proud, stubborn, selfish, self-centered, and self-righteous people, more so than when Christ first came. Paul writes:“But evil men and seducers will go forward to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13 NKJV).“But know this, that in the last days grievous times will be upon us. For men will be lovers of themselves, money-lovers, braggarts, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural feeling, unyielding, slanderers, without self-control, savage, haters of good, betrayers, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power of it; even turn away from these” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 LITV). Being offended when corrected is a refusal to acknowledge what is right concludes Victor Hafichuk. 

 An Offended Wife

 I have been offended many time and I am sure that I too have offended many unknowingly. The bible commands us in Matthew 18:15 to speak to our brothers/sisters only if they have done something to us. I have always practiced if I have something against someone to say it to them – there and then. However, whenever we tell others what they have done to cause offence;  we must be sure to do it God’s way – not our own. God taught me a very valuable lesson when I was offended at my husband for over a year. Before I became pregnant with our daughter- I was diagnosed with fibroids. One day I told my husband that I believed that God spoke to me for us to go into fasting about the fibroids because we were told that it would prevent me from conceiving. My husband told me that God did not say that to him and so he refused. I got so mad at him and asked him if he didn’t care about me.  I told him how I felt there and then and I thought that I had released the hurt and finished with it. However, I remained offended and kept the hurt inside, unknowingly. A year and a half later, when I was four months pregnant with our daughter; one day I was in severe pain; that day the spirit of God brought back to my memory what I had asked my husband-about fasting and praying for me. This was my prayer to God that day: 

 Father, if You were the One who told me to asked my husband to fast with me for the fibroid; speak to him. At the time of the prayer, my husband had left for work. Several hours later, he called from work and he told me that he was fasting; I asked him why and he told me; remember when you told me that God wanted us to fast about the fibroids, I said yes; he told me – I am fasting now. I told him but I cannot fast; remember I am pregnant. My husband then told me that he would fast for both of us.  God answered the prayer less than twenty four hour because I was prompted by the Spirit of God to pray about more than a year old offence. God knew the offence was there; but I thought that I had released it after I had spoken to my husband. Why did it have to take me over a year to go back and asked God? Why didn’t I asked God before? Why? Because I was offended; although unknowingly. God gave us the miracle of our daughter who was delivered by cesarean. After the delivery, there was not even one fibroid to be found because they all liquify and died out. Through the fasting and prayer of my husband God healed me from all fibroids. It took severe pain for me to cry out and go back to God; prompted by the Spirit of God. How many of us are holding on to years of offence and have even left this earth still bound by it.  Jesus said “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me”(Matthew 11:6). Remember Jesus said that we will be blessed if we do not become offended in Him because of what others does or says to us.  

While offences are inevitable and often prove to be negative, we find that the Lord’s most useful servants had to learn to overcome offences and eventually these experiences perfected them for greater usefulness. Joseph had numerous occasions to be offended -by his brothers, by Potiphar’s wife, by the cupbearer and others. Had he taken the bait he would have become a bitter revengeful man. But somehow he overcame and rose to a higher perspective so he could say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish (His purpose)” (Genesis 50:20). The secret of Joseph’s ability to deal with offence was in his knowing and trusting the sovereignty of God. This is why he could say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” If we really see that He is GOD, He is just, and His purposes will prevail, we can relax and let Him be the adjudicator and judge. If this becomes our experience, then even though potential offence may approach us, we will not take the bait. Our capacity to resist taking offence can also be greatly increased if we are saturated in the Word and worship. David knew this and expressed it so well in Psa 119:165 when he said, “Great peace have they that love Thy law and nothing shall offend them.” The Apostle John tells us that if we live in light there is no tendency to stumble (1 John 2: 10).  Jesus touched on this matter in Matthew 16:24,  “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up His cross and follow Me.” A particular way in which we can deny ourselves is by not taking offence, or by forgiving the person who offended us, whether they apologize or not. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 tells us that trials can effect and refine our faith as gold; so that we may be proved genuine. If we parallel this with Revelation 3:18 where we are told to buy gold, we see that denying self, not avenging ourselves and freely forgiving, can be a way of buying gold. Once our self has been crucified, the tendency of offence is very unlikely. 

The Nature of Offence By Albert Zehr

Let us look more carefully at the nature of offence. We find that the foundational aspect of offence lies in the fact that another person, or perhaps God Himself, took action or made a statement which is contrary to our desires or expectation. While we generally assume that the action was wrong or unwarranted, the basic truth is that our expectations or interests were not met, or we felt that our integrity was affronted. Even Jesus had to deal with offence. In Matt. 15:12 the disciples advised Jesus that the Pharisees were offended by what He had said. When Jesus didn’t show up immediately when Lazarus was sick, Martha was offended (John 11:21). His disciples were also offended by Jesus, e.g. John 6: 61 and Matt. 26:31. When in a state of offence we presume that since the offender did us wrong they owe us something. At the very least they owe us an apology, or some kind of recompense. Thus we make them indebted to us. We easily become consumed with our case against the offender. It is easy to become what I call a “night time lawyer.” As we toss and turn on our beds we turn the case over and over, gaining evidence to vindicate our grievance. By morning we have assigned to ourselves the role of judge and are demanding vindication. In this way we can have our own private lawsuit, which is actually the basis of many actual lawsuits (1 Cor. 6: 1-8). We must be aware that the potential for offence is much greater with those we love and are close to. The man on the street will rarely offend us because we don’t expect anything from him. When someone speaks very highly of me, I tend to become just a little uneasy because this person unknowingly may be developing too high expectations for my continuing performance. What will happen if I do something wrong or contrary to those expectations?    

Downward Steps of Offence

Perhaps the classic example of offence, which shows its full course, is seen in the life of Absalom when his sister was defiled. He wanted revenge and seemed to have “good” reasons for his vengeance. After he took the bait his entrapment developed (2 Sam. 13). At first he was deeply offended by Amnon who defiled his sister. Since his father the King did not execute judgment, Absalom became offended with the authority figure. Many are offended at leaders because they do not take a certain action which to them seems appropriate. They perceive the leader weak or ineffective. In the case of Absalom,  Absalom finds a way to kill Amnon. He flees, later he is allowed to come back and is eventually received by the king but kept under restriction. But he still could not deal with the offence. Instead of him seeing that he was not dealt with according to the crime of murder that he committed by is father the King – he still held firmly to the offence and made a plan against his father king David.  

When one has an offence toward a leader, even if that leader was highly regarded, the perspective changes. After the offence, only the weakness or failures of the leader are now noticed and so it was with Absalom. When in offence mode, the next step is to begin to negatively affect others. Gradually Absalom turned people against the King and “stole their hearts” (2 Sam 15:6). The next step, if offence is allowed to grow, is rebellion. In this rebellion, Absalom lost his calling, his potential kingship and eventually his life. All this resulting from an offence. How many of God’s servants have lost their calling and usefulness due to offence? 

 

The Dangerous State of Offence 

In 1 Samuel 25 David became offended because of Nabal’s insult when he was asking for help and as such was on the way to take revenge. Only the humble, gracious counsel from Nabal’s wife Abigail, who later became David’s  wife upon her husband’s Nabal’s death rescued him. There is a possibility that David would have forfeited his future if he had fully swallowed the offence bait in this case. Sometimes our spouses or caring friends can save us from offence if we are open and willing to hear.This story also shows that there is a need for those who can gently restrain others from taking the bait, or even guide them out of the trap. Peace makers (Matthew 5:9) are needed not just in our world but especially in the body of Christ. Abigail interceded for her guilty husband and even bore his reproach, willing to make up his lack. Many times offence could be defused or even avoided if there were more Abigails in the church. We must be able to overcome offence if we want to be used by God. Assuming we were actually done wrong and the other party is at fault, what shall we do? We have a choice -hold them to account, or forgive. But we need to realize that when we do not forgive, we place ourselves in a state of unforgiveness. This can become very serious. We must be aware that in a state of unforgiveness we shut ourselves off from God’s forgiveness (Matt. 6:14; 18:35). When we are unforgiving we become unforgiven, and when we are unforgiven we cannot find the grace to forgive. Only when this cycle is broken can we regain our joy and the sense of God’s presence. When we are offended with someone, our eyes no longer see their positive qualities and our hearing becomes filtered with our offended thoughts. This is why a persons who once spoke and thought highly of each other can now only judge and criticize each other.Furthermore, this state of offence yields a harvest of frustration, anger, suspicion, ineffectiveness, and falling away (Matt.13:21). This is why many who have been useful and effective are no longer productive. Consider yourself -when you are offended, are you still overflowing with life and usefulness? Offence may also lie behind much sickness -mental and physical (James 5:16). When we are offended, our nervous system, our appetite, our sleep and entire well-being is affected. In Matthew 24 Jesus follows His word about offence with a warning that many false prophets would arise and deceive many. When we hold an offence we immediately become more subject to being deceived by a false prophet. Suppose I have a grievance toward a brother or a church, or am offended by the action of a leader. Then someone offers a critical word about that person or church. My ability to objectively discern that word will be greatly diminished. In this state many will be easily deceived.  

The Purpose and Value of Offence ~ By Albert Zehr

 Offence is useful to expose the inner nature of our hearts and to bring cleansing through the washing that comes from repentance (Rom. 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8; Matt. 15:13). Job came to realize that God’s intention in testing (often done through offences) is to purify and refine until we come forth as gold (Job 23:10).If things go our way and everyone agrees with us, we do not realize our pride and self reliance. When we react in anger toward another person, we tend to use the childish excuse, “Look what you made me do!” But we must realize that what they said or did, didn’t create our anger. It simply brought to the surface what is already in us. If we take ownership for that anger, confess it, and ask the Holy Spirit to root it out of our inner being, letting the flesh be crucified, the next time our reaction will be quite different. Many times we invite the Lord to deal with and expose us and show us what is in us that is not of Him. Little do we realize that one of the most effective ways for Him to do this is through offence. How else can I learn how self-centered I am and how much anger and ego is still in me? When they hurled insults at Jesus He did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly (1 Peter 2: 23). Am I there yet? The following verses show how God needs to expose our real inward condition: 2 Sam. 12:7 -9; Prov. 20:27; Heb. 12:6. Let us grasp the fact that when we are in a state of offence, the primary value lies not in what is wrong with the other person or what they should do or change. The greater value for me is to learn what my response is saying about me. What can I learn about the Lord and about myself in this experience? When I allow the Holy Spirit to reveal my condition and the need in my life, He can show me how far I am from His unconditional love and forgiveness. When I ask and receive His all sufficient grace, I gain the unsearchable riches of Christ. 

 

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