No, I’m not offended. At least I don’t think I am. Offense has an uncanny way of sneaking up on us and popping out at the most inopportune times. You think that you are doing fine and then, bam, the offense rises to the surface to show its ugly head.
The reason offense can hide so easily is that some of us have trained ourselves to sweep offense under the rug. When we are offended, we grin and bear it, sweep it under the rug, and act like nothing happened.
This is especially true with believers. We know we should not carry an offense, so we bury it as quickly as possible. Out of sight out of mind.
Of course, not everyone hides their offenses. Some proclaim them from the mountaintop, telling everyone who will listen. They are upset and they want everyone to know about it.
There are even those who use the daily new cycle to trumpet their offense to the nation. They tell their story to the American people and demand an apology.
Have You Ever Been Offended?
Boy, was that ever a silly question. If you are alive, you’ve been offended. I don’t care who you are. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black or white, young or old, female or male, human or nonhuman (just kidding), you have been offended.
It should not come as a surprise that everyone will be offended. Jesus warned His disciples about it in Luke 17:1. It reads:
He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come.”
Other translations translate the words “stumbling blocks” as “offenses”
Being offended is inevitable. It is going to happen whether you are ready for it or not. Given enough time, you will have an opportunity to be offended.
The folks at Dictionary.com provide us with a long list of synonyms that describe many of the possible emotions that come with being offended. They include being:
upset, insulted, affronted, aggrieved, displeased, hurt, wounded, disgruntled, put out, annoyed, angry, cross, exasperated, indignant, irritated, piqued, vexed, irked, stung, galled, nettled, resentful, in a huff, huffy, in high dudgeon;
Informal riled, miffed, peeved, aggravated, sore, teed off, ticked off;
I’ve never heard the words “in high dudgeon” before and I thought I may have found a typo in the dictionary. I looked it up and, believe it or not, it was correct. It means “a feeling or offense or deep resentment.”
Offense is a Trap
The Greek word for offenses is skandalon. It is the word used to describe a stick that is part of trap used to capture animals. When the animal bumps the stick, the cage falls over them capturing them and keeping them trapped.
John Bevere wrote a book about the dangers of being offended named The Bait of Satan. In it, he describes how Satan uses offense to trap us and block many of the blessings God desires us to receive.
The devil wants you to be offended because it affects you both internally and externally. Internally in the sense that:
- you no longer trust people
- you build walls around your heart to protect yourself from a future offense
- you refuse to forgive and carry around bitterness and anger
- you bear the pain that can only be healed through forgiveness and release to God
Externally in the sense that:
- you project our feelings on others, even when they are sincere
- you begin to separate yourself from others
- you can be in a crowd and yet feel alone and unloved
- you act in ways that make others feel uncomfortable
Holding onto offenses keep you bound and in torment. We have covered this in great detail in the following posts.
- Twenty-Four Forgiveness Myths Busted (ep 38)
- The Destructive Power of Unforgiveness parts 1, 2, 3, (ep 39-41)
- Are You Being Turned Over to the Torturers Part 1, 2, 3 (ep 42-44)
The purpose of this post is to look the two main sources of offense and give some examples of the destructiveness of harboring an offense.
Two Types of Offense
Have you ever walked into a room and seen people in a circle laughing and they look at you as you walk in and you just know they were talking about you? Of course, what they were thinking was bad. The question is, were they really talking about you?
Many of the offenses we take are only perceived offenses.Someone is having a bad day and they snap at us and we take it personally. “See, I knew they didn’t like me. They were only pretending to be nice the other hundred times I have had interactions with them.”
A perfect example was shared by a pastor friend of mine. The church has three Sunday morning services. My friend, Stan, had to run to his office in between services. He was on a tight schedule and was walking with purpose toward his office.
One woman in the church said hi to as he walked by. Stan did not say a word. He simply continued on to his office.
The woman was deeply offended and told people that the Pastor was rude to her and did not accept her. He just ignored me and refused to say hi.
Stan refused to say hi because he did not see her. Too many people in the halls and a mind set on getting something from his office, he did not hear the woman say hi. This is definitely a perceived snub and offense taken without reason.
The woundedness within the heart of the woman caused her to interpret completely innocent actions as a personal snub and become offended without reason.
If you find yourself being offended regularly, it is probably time to ask the Lord what is going on in your heart. Constant offense is a sure sign of some past wound affecting the way you see other people's actions.
If this resonates with you, take some time to wait before the Lord and ask Him if there is anything in your heart that causes you to misinterpret other people’s intentions.
Not all offenses are imaginary. There are real offenses that arise from daily life. Someone does something wrong and you are offended.
This time the story of offense has to do with a friend of mine. Terry was a regular customer at the Christian bookstore I worked at many years ago. He was constantly in the store buying stacks of books and Christian music. He was especially fond of Jimmy Swaggart.
Every time he came in we had a wonderful conversation about the Lord and the things he was learning from Jimmy. Then Jimmy Swaggart was caught in sin. He openly confessed the sin in his life and continued to struggle with it afterward.
Terry was so hurt and offended that Jimmy Swaggart could stand up and preach the way he did while living the way he was living. He was so offended that he fell away from the Lord.
The next time I saw him he looked terrible. He had walked away from God and was drinking and living a life apart from God. All because of Jimmy’s sin.
This is a tragedy. It is very hurtful when a spiritual leader you respect falls into sin. His offense was so deep against Jimmy that he took it out on God. His faith was shaken to the core.
I am not sure where Terry is now. I pray that the Lord touches his heart and helps him to return to Him. I know God desires for his return.
Turn it Over to God
The answer for both types of offense is the same. Turn it over to the Lord. God wants us to be whole enough so that we are not badly shaken by the offenses of others.
The second part of Luke 17:1 says, but woe to him through whom they come.” The reason we can release the offenses we carry is that the Lord will take care of seeing that they are properly judged for what they have done.
Next week we are going to look at how God wants us to handle offenses in our lives. What He asks us to do may surprise you. Until then, have a blessed day.