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I started this article on offense a few months ago, and it has sat in my computer ever since. I was so proud of myself that I had accomplished such vast spiritual maturity that I could write on this topic in past tense versus present. I would likely have a hard time even remembering when someone may have offended me in the past (pause, while I pat myself on the back). Much to my dismay, it took about 30 seconds to begin writing incident after incident where someone had offended me, and even less time for my blood to boil-- how dare they do or say such things to me!
The reality is, that many of us regularly battle being offended. Now, we don’t say that we do. As Christians, we tend to wrap it in Christianese and pretend that we are far too mature for such things. We say we’ve forgiven, when we haven’t. We say we’re issuing grace, when we don’t. And we secretly walk away from far too many conversations hurt and offended by what the other person just said. The secret offense, bitterness, or anger that we carry is often on the forefront of conversations. We’re offended because we’ve been hurt or broken or scarred or disappointed. We’re bitter, because they didn’t care that they hurt us.
We must realize exactly what’s going on here. Our hurt, offense, bitterness, and unforgiveness do nothing to their lives. It does not hurt your ex-mother-in-law, your ex-husband, or your ex-boyfriend to be angry and offended with them. It doesn’t hurt your pastor, mother, co-worker or cashier at the grocery store. In fact, they’ve probably forgotten what they did to offend you or likely didn’t even know what they did in the first place.
Our offense is Satan’s lure. It’s what keeps us bound spiritually. We focus on the business of the offense versus our Father’s business. When we are offended and don’t immediately release that to the Lord, we carry it, nurse it, and give it a room in our hearts that we can revisit at leisure.
What did Christ die for? Yes, he died for our salvation and the joyful opportunity of spending eternity with him. But he didn’t stop there. He died for our freedom. He said on the cross, “It is finished.” What was finished? Everything. The battle is won. We aren’t striving to earn the victory or pretending to be good enough to receive the grace. It’s already ours, when we accept him. He paid for freedom from our past, forgiveness from our sins, and the abundant life. He didn’t come that we may just suffer through each day with no hope, bound in bitterness and offended by our Christian brother. He came that we may have life and have it abundantly.
Satan is a master manipulator that will convince us that the chick at the grocery store meant to hurt our feelings, that our co-worker crafted a plot to anger us, and that our mother-in-law had it out for us from the beginning. He’ll camp out in our minds, reminding us over and over how horrible the offense is, and how we could never possibly let it go. It’s amazing that we sometimes cannot remember where we parked after a 15-minute grocery shopping trip, but we can remember for the next 15 years the exact conversation where someone offended us!
Why does your offense matter anyway? It matters because our ability to forgive and let it go shows others hope that only Christ offers. Your offense, bitterness, and unforgiveness only hold you hostage. It’s what you wake up smelling like and the aroma you give to others when they pass you by. It doesn’t depict the true picture of who Christ is in our lives. And that is a life and death situation.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Ephesians 4:31
You may be thinking, But you don’t know what I’ve been through! And you would be absolutely correct. I don’t. But God does. And his grace is sufficient for our failures and for those times when others fail us. Christ’s payment on the cross was enough to mend our hearts and the anger and offense that may be looming there. And there’s great freedom, when we simply lay it down.
Author's Note: Are you a single mom? Then, register now for a two-day life-changing national single moms conference coming this June 2015. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single moms and womens’ issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who has a God-given passion to see women walking in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has been featured in countless media venues.