Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I'm offended | Part II: Forgiveness

You're offended; now what?

You can harbor the feeling and allow it to grow sporadically into anger and bitterness -- an untamable, revenge-seeking tree of death ...

... Or you can forgive.

Those are basically your two options. I know. Not a bounty of choices here, huh? In reality, there are a ton of options available to us, but when you boil it down, these two options are at the root. Do you become bitter, or do you become better?


verb for·give \fər-ˈgiv, fr-\
: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
: to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)


As previously mentioned in the first post of this series, the spirit of offense validates our right to be angry at someone who has offended us:
We have a RIGHT to be upset. It's a very self righteous, ego-stroking feeling, as when we are offended, it is particularly our egos that have been bruised. Becoming offended is a defense mechanism and it makes us feel better. 
Just because something makes us FEEL better doesn't mean it MAKES US BETTER. Feelings are fickle, and as maturing believers, we should not rely on feelings to direct our doings. When we let our emotions lead us, we allow ourselves to get caught up in ... well ourselves. Feelings point to self. Feelings can therefore lead to selfish actions; because let's be honest, who doesn't want to feel good all the time? That's just not realistic. We aren't always going to feel good, and doing the right thing can and will be uncomfortable at times. Cue the music from Nighmare on Elm Street here.

Emotions are a byproduct of our actions, it's not the other way around. We don't feel good first, and then take action. Many times, we do the right thing IN SPITE of how we feel. Tell your emotions to sit down and take a seat. This is otherwise known as self control.


You may have "deserved" the offense sent your way by provoking it, or you may have been an innocent bystander. Either way, are you feeling guilty about anything leading up to the offense? Are your mind and heart feeling heavy with doubt? Are you saying: "I should have never poked fun at him/her;" or "I should have never befriended them anyway, I knew they were untrustworthy;" and "Why did I open my big mouth?"

'Should have', 'could have' and 'would have' can get us into the circular thinking of guilt and shame. The reality is, you did or did not do something, and guess what? It's OK.

Or maybe you retaliated in a way that was not consistent with your walk with Christ. You may have responded out of character and in the heat of the moment. While we don't want to say it is OK to respond in such a manner, it is OK to recognize erroneous responses, readjust and move forward without guilt. It is OK to extend grace to yourself. Forgive yourself and allow God to purify you:

Whatever it is, you are forgiven:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
If we can confess our sins to God and He forgives and purifies us, who are we to hold ourselves hostage to guilt and shame? By doing so, we are ultimately saying that our judgment and our standard are harsher and higher than God's. Take the time in your prayer life to get right with the Lord and forgive yourself so you can move forward and forgive others. As long as your thought life is not at peace with yourself, it will be extremely difficult to extend grace to others.


You have been legitimately hurt and offended. Rarely do we hold grudges against people who have done nothing to us. Our pain, hurt and offense has a story. It carries a tale among or between people who typically care about each other or people who care about a common cause.

When sitting with others and listening to their heart-cries (and hurt-cries) talk about how they were unjustly treated, it is easy to feel the sting of hurt through their story. The hurt is real, and we don't want anyone to undermine it. What makes forgiveness hard is the thought of letting someone get away with hurting us. It's also hard when our feelings are justified: "They are a liar, cheater, gossip, selfish," and on and on. Those things may in fact be true.

Fortunately, it is not our job to bring justice to our situation. In fact, harboring hurt and allowing it to transfer into an offense and grudge ends up hurting us more. Like the saying goes:
"Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."
We end up hurting ourselves in the long run by not taking the step toward forgiveness and moving on.  While we are so busy harboring anger toward the person by seeking our own justice, we instead make that individual more important than they should be:

We stalk them on social media to make sure they aren't happy, and when we see they are quite content with their lives, it makes us more angry. 
We avoid them like the plague. If we see them out at the grocery story, or (Lord forbid) church, we run circles around the place not to come in contact with them, so we aren't forced to say hi.  
We vent about them to our closest friends over and over, and sometimes to strangers; anyone who will listen and join your coalition of anger toward the individual that hurt us. 

... and on and on the vicious cycle of avoidance and resentment occur that lead us to being completely bound to the anger toward them --- who may very well have already moved on with their lives while you remain stuck. Our offender is in control, and you have given them the power over your thoughts, emotions and actions.

The only way out of this is to forgive. As Christians, we forgive because we have been forgiven. Forgiveness is a basic foundation of salvation:

In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. Ephesians 1:7

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14

Christ's sacrifice on the cross and his shed blood was an act of love for us, so that our sins can be forgiven; so that our imperfect selves can have relationship with a holy, perfect God.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord ... Acts 3:19

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 

But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

Also, Jesus taught to pray for forgiveness for self and for others in the Lord's prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13:

and forgive us our sins,as we have forgiven those who sin against us.

If we can't forgive others, how can we expect God to forgive us?

Every born-again Christian has experienced the goodness of grace and forgiveness. Grace is not fair. Grace says, "I forgive you," especially when we don't deserve it. Christ forgives us, even after all the nasty and wrong things we have done in this life. Who are we to hold a higher standard of others? In the end, a grudge never hurt the other person any way. No amount of anger we harbor in our hearts toward others will avenge the hurt. Besides, that's God's job:

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD. Romans 12:19

Give up your right to be offended. Give up the control you so desperately crave for the sake of revenge. It is a facade and a tactic of the enemy that will destroy you because grudges never make us better, they make us bitter.

Make it your priority to forgive others today. Do not allow another day to go by with a grudge in your heart and get ready to detox from the lies you have fed yourself for so long about the person and step into God's truth.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this powerful post. Asking God for forgiveness comes easy but forgiving others at times requires the grace of God