Looking at the world today we don't have to try too hard to find something to be offended about. Murder, abortion (redundant, yes), abuse, corruption, and deceit abound. All these having their root in sin. These are awful and we are right to be offended by them. But are these truly what weigh on your mind each day? Occasionally, absolutely, especially in light of recent tragic events. But my guess is that the offenses that trouble us the most are the "small" ones. The unkind word from a friend, the strange look we [think] we see someone give us, or the [perceived] treatment we get when we are around certain people. These types of offenses are what will consume us if we allow them to.
One place I see this too often is in the church. This is the place petty offenses should not be, for it is a worldly trait. The world hates, that is its signature emotion (see John 15:18-25). The opposite is to be said of the Church: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:15. The Church is to love one another.
When we give in to an offense it will first wreak havoc on our own heart. It will consume our thoughts and play with our emotions. If we don't recognize it and deal with it, the offense will grow and will affect others and possibly the church as a whole. Growing like the weed that it is.
We women seem to be especially vulnerable to this. We are very perceptive beings and also tender-hearted. When we choose to take offense at something, we unwittingly become the door through which the enemy sneaks into the church. Soon there is hurt, blame and division occurring. Don't be that door, Ladies!
"Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." Proverbs 19:11. We need to have a very long fuse and learn to quickly overlook offenses when they come. This verse tells us that it is to our glory to do so. Meaning it will enhance your gospel shine! What a beautiful thought.
What if you really were treated unkindly or shut out by stuck-up Christians or intentionally left out of a group? Ask Jesus.
His possible answer: "I was betrayed by a friend, falsely accused of crimes I did not commit, abandoned by those closest to me, declared guilty in a bogus trial, flogged, beaten, mocked, and spat upon. I was nailed to a large wooden cross and raised up for all to see. How did I deal with these great offenses? I forgave and I died. I gave up my life so that many of those same people would come to God."
Would you still be able to argue your case while staring into the face of Jesus? Not a chance. That is why we need to look at him every day in his Word. I think our right response to an offense would be the same as Jesus’s. Forgive and die, die to self that is. Laying our lives down for the sake of the gospel and the purity of God's people.
These things will happen, you will be hurt by other Christians. But decide not to hold on to the offense. Do not harbor ill toward one another within Gods family. Allow God to work in that person's heart and sanctify them, knowing he is doing the same in all of us. In fact, pray for them.
One last point. Do not allow an offense caused by another Christian to keep you from Christ. Do not allow anyone to stand in the way of you and your Savior, Jesus Christ. To do so is beyond pitiable and ridiculous. If you find yourself pointing to someone else when asked why you don't attend church, go to study, enjoy worship or why you have stopped pursuing God then your faith is weak, if it exists at all. Shape up.
If your relationship with the Lord is authentic, there is nothing and no one who will keep you from running after him whole-heartedly. Pushing aside every petty offense and freely forgiving those who are yet being sanctified, because you and your flesh "have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer [you] who live, but Christ who lives in [you]." Galatians 2:20.
Ladies, for the sake of the Name of the One who called you, be not offended.