It's what breaks up marriages, ruins friendships, causes division in families, ministries and even church splits. It's the real poison that killed Romeo and Juliet. Not the one they drank but the one that caused them to drink it in the first place. I'm talking about offense.
This week I had planned to share all about Unity in the church. Of course as I was praying over that, the enemy came against me. I found myself this week being short and irritable with those that I love most. I allowed offense to sneak in like the poison that it is and induce feelings of bitterness. If I'm being transparent here, frankly I was even hurtful. And why? Because I had allowed offense to take root. I knew that I was offended and instead of speaking about it, I incorrectly thought that being quiet about certain situations was the best resort. Man was I wrong. As I blew up, I found that it wasn't just the single offense that existed but several small offenses latched on.
By not communicating how I felt and addressing my feelings head on, I allowed them to grow and fester. I should have known better. I should have uprooted the seed the second it was planted.
Just last week I talked about the attacks, schemes and lies of the enemy and how we have to put on our armor. I don't want to discredit myself, but I do want to be transparent in how these attacks come. We are not beyond his reach.
The whole situation left me feeling embarrassed, discouraged and even slightly defeated. Offense, like unforgiveness, is such an ugly debilitating feeling.
I spent the entire weekend in prayer asking the Lord first for forgiveness in my shortcomings but also to change my heart and show me how to be better. I want to be a better reflection of Him. I love the testimony of Todd White where he talks about how God delivered him from the spirit of offense as a result of his salvation. I am receiving that for myself as well.
My mantra of God's promises this week sounds like this. I am made new, I am not a slave to my sin or my old ways, My God has removed my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh, My God has begun a work in me and will not leave me unfinished.
I know that we all fall short and none of us are perfect. I get that, so I try not to beat myself up over my mistakes but I do try and acknowledge and right them when they happen. I can't say I'm sorry enough to my best friend who became the brunt of my frustration this week. I can see how I let offense get the best of me.
Leviticus 19:18 says,
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord."
Basically put, don't bear a grudge against a fellow believer! The Hebrew translation says to "keep" anger. Don't do that! Don't hold onto anger, let it go. Forgive those who have offended you, and communicate with each other any and all offenses so they don't develop into bitterness. Don't water that seed and help it grow by not addressing it.
Proverbs 18:19 says,
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
This is what happens when we don't communicate with one another. We are called to love each other and unforgiveness gets in the way of that. Instead, let's follow the example in Matthew 18 where it says,
"If your brother sins against you, go and confront him privately. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over."
Let's be adults here. Let's not publicize our hurts and anger on social media. Let's not talk about them behind one another's backs. But rather, go to the person who has hurt you and talk to them.
I pray that I get better in the future and that this isn't one of those lessons that the Lord has to continue to teach me. And I pray that if any of you have an issue with a brother or sister that you go to them peacefully and express your concerns in a way that is both encouraging and edifying.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Rom 14:19)