OVERCOMING OFFENSES

There is an area where I have had a great deal of trouble. It is in the matter of giving and taking offense. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary:

Offend, v.i., 1. to break moral laws or religious commandments; commit an offense. 2. to create resentment, anger or displeasure, give offense. v.t. 1. to hurt the feelings of; cause to feel resentful, angry, or displeased; insult. 2. to be displeasing to (the taste, sense, etc.). SYN–offend implies a causing displeasure or resentment in another, intentionally or unintentionally, by wounding his feelings or by a breach of his sense of propriety. affront insult outrage.

Offense, n. 1. an offending; specifically, (a) the act of breaking the law; sin; crime; transgression. (b) the act of creating resentment, hurt feelings, displeasure, etc. 2. the condition of being offended, especially of feeling hurt, resentful, or angry; umbrage. 3. something that causes sinning or wrongdoing. 4. something that causes resentment, anger, etc. … SYN–resentment (indignation … brooding … illwill); umbrage (hurt pride); pique (ruffled pride–passing); displeasure.

We are all guilty of both giving and taking offense. From the strongest to the mildest of negative feelings, they are all offenses. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” Matthew 18:7 & Luke 17:1 (KJV).

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; … Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;” 1 John 3:8-9. Our new man born in us at conversion does not sin. “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Romans 7:17. There is a battle going on in each of us. I have heard it said that the side we feed gets stronger. I think that means that where we exercise our wills that side prevails. When we stand against it, the urge to sin flees. We must find a balance in all things with the spirit ruling and the flesh submitting.

We cannot see our own sin. So God uses others as mirrors to show us. When we see or hear something in another that offends us, the first thing we should do is examine ourselves, and ask God to shed his light on the problem. Then we confess it as sin in our own lives. Our faults are based in attitudes which cause or allow us to act or respond in certain ways. God usually does not remove faults without first showing them to us for confession. When we see it, and confess it as sin then he removes it. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:9-10.

When we have overcome (removed the beam from our eye) in a certain area, then we are able to share with others about how to overcome (their speck). (Matthew 7:3.) (The beam and the speck are the same thing viewed from different perspectives.) Some things God removes as soon as we confess them. Others we have to work at. At first we realize what we have done and confess. Then we begin to realize what we are doing and stop and confess. Eventually, with God’s help, we realize what we are about to do and can stop ourselves. In time we overcome the desire for evil and forget about it until we see someone else with the same attitude problem. We will be tested in the same point later to see if we remember our lessons.

The Lord uses what offends us to sensitize us to how we offend others. We will learn to overcome as we become aware of these warnings. After we repent, confess, and ask forgiveness from God and those we have offended, we should forgive ourselves, for “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” Romans 8:1. As we are here to learn to overcome sin in our lives and the way we feel toward others, we are also here to be that which others must learn to overcome. But that does not excuse us from advancing with all possible speed to overcome our own faults. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1-2.

That which hurts is flesh. It must fall away and die, and sometimes the process is painful. But if we keep our eyes on Jesus and the glory set before us in him, we will not be moved as these things are stripped away, and what remains will be eternal. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18-19. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6.

When we realize that at least 90% of the things that offend us are caused by ourselves, we will be less condemning and more loving and forgiving toward our brothers. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:31-32.

We are to be overcomers of our own faults. At the same time, we are to overcome the way we feel about the faults and shortcomings of others. It is amazing how often my brother is cured of his offensive behavior when I have overcome the problem in myself. Could it be that his was only a reflection to show me myself? “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1. You can only help someone in an area where you have overcome, therefore, you are more likely to fall into the same thing.

Since the faults we see in others are the same ones we have ourselves, WE SHOULD BE DOUBLY CAREFUL WHEN WE SET OUT TO CORRECT ANOTHER. We should be certain that we have thoroughly dealt with the problem in our own lives first. We should set our wills not to see the faults of others; then when we do, our first response should be to pray for them with all earnestness that God will correct them. If we are hurt, angry, and/or offended over another’s actions or attitude, we are in no condition to restore them until we have corrected our own attitudes. “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4. On occasion we may be required to correct another. Just be sure it is after this process, not before.

God is a loving God, but he is also a God of righteousness. He does not condone sin in anyone at any time. When we come to Jesus for salvation, he covers us with his blood shed in righteousness. Thereafter, when God looks at us he does not see our sin but Jesus’ blood. Under the blood the Holy Spirit begins to work flaking off the sin piece by piece and bringing it to the surface for us to see. If we confess it as sin, he removes it. If we try to justify ourselves, the sin remains until we see it for what it is.

In teaching the disciples to pray Jesus said, “And forgive us our debts as [in the same way - to the same degree] we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12. That also means if we do not forgive, He will not forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgiveness is a bridge we all must cross. If we tear it down by refusing to forgive, then we cannot cross it to receive. “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger: and it is his glory to pass over [forgive] a transgression.” Proverbs 19:11.

There are levels and depths to our beings, some of which we are not even aware. Surface things are often easily overlooked or forgiven, but things that hurt us deeply must be forgiven deeply. We are not even capable of forgiving truly, but we must go to Jesus and ask him to give us the forgiveness which releases the deep hurts and heals the memories.

If you say, “I forgive you, BUT I won’t ever forget;” or “I forgive, BUT I’ll never let you hurt me like that again.” If there is a BUT in your forgiving, you have not really forgiven at all. Do not wait until they ask for your forgiveness. They may not know they offended you, or they may not care. You do not forgive because they deserve it, or ask for it. You forgive because unforgiveness is a sin! Your sin!

Often, when something happens, both parties are offended, and both parties are at fault. Our natural tendency is to say, “It was 90% his fault and only 10% mine. He should come to me.” “He that covereth his sins [even 1%] shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. “If thou bring thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift by the altar and go thy way. First be reconciled to thy brother, then come again and offer thy gift.” Matthew 5:23-24.

First, examine yourself. Identify the basic attitudes (ungratefulness, stubbornness, unforgiveness, deception, bitterness, resentment, pride, lack of love, laziness, disloyalty, independent spirit, etc.) that are operating in you in the situation. Realize that you are responsible before God for your own sin only. God is quite capable of taking care of the other person. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. [That means that your being angry with him is not going to work the righteousness of God into his life or yours either.]” James 1:20. Then, forgive as freely and completely as you want God to forgive you. THEN, go to your brother (or sister) and ask forgiveness for your part in it, without trying to share the blame with him or anyone else. If it happens again, ask again. Soon you will see that exercising self-control and overcoming your sin is easier and more pleasant than repeatedly having to ask forgiveness for the same offense.

Remember! Accept complete responsibility for your own actions and reactions. Do not try to “share the blame". “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32.

We are to be overcomers. There are great and precious promises for those who overcome.

  • To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelations 2:7.
  • He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. Revelations 2:11.
  • To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. Revelations 2:17.
  • And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. Revelations 2:26-28.
  • He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Revelations 3:5.
  • Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. Revelations 3:12.
  • To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. Revelations 3:21.

And there are many, many more promises for overcomers in the Book. Search them out for yourself.

As you learn to overcome your reactions and feelings toward others, you will come to a place where you do not take offense at anything, even when the other person was trying to offend. You will put the best construction on anything said or done and “make excuses” for the other person, realizing that they are but an instrument in the hand of almighty God to bring you into the perfect image of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what you want? And He will deal with them also to bring them into that same lovely perfection. In Jesus Name. Amen.


July 7, 1985
REJOICE! GOD LOVES YOU!