Living From a Heart of Offense
I was thinking about friends who have been deeply wounded by other Christians. Some have done a remarkable job of turning their pain and woundedness over to God and they’ve been healed. But some have not. (I may be in the second group.) I felt a warning from the Holy Spirit about living from a heart of offense.
In this age of social media, more of us haves an audience of listeners than ever before. Some people’s audiences are large. Some are small. But most of us are influencing others with Facebook posts, blogs, etc. Even if we’re not aware of it.
The issue I felt the Lord addressing is the fact that the things we post reflect the condition of our hearts. If our heart has become jaded, offended or embittered toward others—especially if it’s been damaged in the hands of our brothers and sisters, it will be tainted, causing us to post negative or critical things toward the body of Christ.
We might feel like we have a right (or even an obligation) to warn others about the harsh treatment our friends can expect from those who have offended us. There are a thousand ways to justify unforgiveness. But we’d be wise to consider one thing:
The wounds and offenses we receive from others are done out of ignorance. Those who hurt us think they’re doing the right thing—usually in a misguided attempt to “protect the sheep.” While the ones who hurt us may be guilty of ignorance, we have no defense for our refusal to forgive them.
If we refuse to forgive others and in stubbornness, continue our crusade to right the wrongs that were done, we’re teaching others to do the same. It dawned on me that while my own wounds are my concern, my example to others is something God holds me accountable for. And I would be a fool to set that kind of example for others.
My friend Schuler Murdock shared this illustration:
“Some years ago, Papa showed me an “image” of taking offense that I’ve never forgotten.
“Joe Christian” was minding his own business when “Bill Christian” purposefully approached him and placed a rather large bag filled with stinky dog poop in his hands. Bill promptly walked away and Joe stood there with a most horrified and disgusted look on his face.
Joe quickly took his stinky bag home and showed it to his family. They all turned up their noses, shook their heads and agreed that Bill shouldn’t have done that.
Joe carried his bag to Church with him and showed everyone what Bill had done. Just like his family, they all turned up their noses, shook their heads and agreed that Bill shouldn’t have done that.
Joe carried his bag to work, he took it with him to lunch. In fact, Joe carried his stinky bag of dog poop with him everywhere he went.
It didn’t take long before his family didn’t want to be around him anymore. When he went to Church, people gave him a forced smile and moved to sit some place else, where the smell wasn’t so bad.
Soon everywhere Joe went, he found himself alone and the “image” ended there.
The moral to the story seemed pretty obvious. It’s not right for someone to offend us. But if we take that offense and carry it around with us, it only multiplies the harmful effects of the original offense.”
Provocation and Offense