It seems like everyone is offended today and demanding a public apology. Being Offend is in style.It gives people a sound bite on the evening news. It flashes across the blogosphere as people looking for the latest tidbit to comment on and bring traffic to their site.
This way of dealing with an offense is not God’s way. Demanding a public retraction or apology rarely changes a person's heart. God’s desire is that we learn to live at peace with all men.
God’s Number One Priority is Relationships
Big statement, but I think I can prove it from the Bible. One day a scribe asked Jesus an important question. He simply wanted to know what is the greatest commandment. Jesus answered Him with a statement that encompasses every relationship we will ever have in the world. He said:
29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
So the most important priority from God’s perspective is to love God and to love people.
The first, and most important, commandment focuses on your relationship with God. God is to be number one in your life. Nothing is to take precedence over this relationship. The words Jesus uses tells us that every part of our being and actions are to be used to love God.
Every part of our being is to be engaged in loving God. Look at what each word signifies:
- Heart - Think of the heart as the spiritual control center. The heart is the source of our response to God. Out of the heart flows good or evil (Luke 6:45). It is the essence of who we are.
- Soul - Think of the soul as that which houses our desires and emotions. God wants us to desire Him and set our affections on Him above all others.
- Mind - Think of the mind as the thought center of your being. God desires your mind to be renewed to come into alignment with His thoughts. God wants every thought to come under the obedience of Christ. He wants you to have the mind of Christ.
- Strength - Think of strength as the effort you put toward accomplishing things. God wants you to use your strength in service to Him. Everything you do is to be for the glory of God.
I think we can safely say that God wants you to love Him with everything that is in you and through everything that comes out of you.
Jesus then links a secondary commandment to the first. The reason for this is that you cannot love God if you do not love people. If we love God, then we must love what He loves and hate what He hates.
God loves people. All sorts of people. Just look around you. Every person you see God loves. There is not one person on the face of the earth that God does not love. He loves everyone and has made a way for each person to come into right relationship with Him through the death of Jesus.
Jesus even loves those who are His enemies. He died for the ungodly. Pick the evilest person you can imagine and God loves him or her. He is reaching out to each one to seek to bring them to Himself.
Here are a few verses that speak of the kind of love Jesus wants us to give:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:11-12)
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God, should love his brother also. (1 John 4:21)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
God wants us to love people with the same love that he has for them. We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re to also love those who are our enemies and persecute us. It is through this type of love that it shows that we are His children.
When we love people, we are only emulating the love that we see in the Father. God has shed His love abroad in our hearts so that we can love people with God’s love. We have experienced the love of God and can thus share that same love with others,
Love is the essence of God. Therefore, the essence of the life of a believer is to love God and to love people.
The Enemy’s Number One Priority is to destroy Relationships
I am not going to spend a lot of time discussing the works of the enemy, but they are clearly seen all around us. The devil wants to destroy every relationship in your life. He is opposed to you and the blessing that God wants you to receive through being in right relationship with other people.
I think that one passage of Scripture is enough to showcase some of the things that we can expect from the devil and those who live according to their flesh and not the Spirit of God. Galatians 5:19-21 says:
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Almost every word deals with the destruction of relationships. These things bring death to relationship, but God desires that relationships be restored and blessed.
If Possible, Be at Peace With All Men
God created us to be in right relationship with one another. Sin has definitely messed things up. Instead of being other-centered, we have become self-centered. Self-centeredness is the opposite of love.
The Apostle Paul gets right to the heart of the matter when he tells us in Romans 12:18-21:
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Did you catch the words “if possible”? That tells me that it is not always possible. You may want to be at peace with others, but it takes two people to be at peace. You may want peace, but unless the other person wants it too it will not happen.
This brings up an important point. God never expects you to be the one responsible for the peace. You can only be responsible for your actions and not for the actions of others.
If you reach out to the person and they refuse to be reconciled, then you have done what is required of you by the Lord. You can only be responsible for your own walk with the Lord.
That means that if the person refuses to be at peace it is not your fault. If we do what God asks us to do with the heart of humility and obedience, then as far as you are concerned you are at peace with all people.
I want to repeat again that if you have contacted a person and humbly sought to reconcile and they refuse, you have done your part. You have done what the Lord has required of you and you should not feel guilty or responsible for make things happen.
Leave the person to God and let Him do what needs to be done in their hearts. Then, if they decide to reconcile things, you will be ready to receive them with open arms.
If You Are Offended with Your Brother
If you are offended by your brother, the first thing that I suggest is that you take the issue to the Lord and seek to work through it with Him. Many times God will graciously touch your heart and the issue is dealt with and things are fine.
There are no negative feelings or attitudes toward the person who offended you. It is taken care of between you and God. But if the issue remains and affects your relationship with that other person, then you should consider approaching the one who offended you and seek to make things right.
Many times the one who offended you has no idea that they have hurt you. They may be aware of a change in your response toward them, but not know why. Bringing the offense into the light makes opportunity for it to be dealt with in a positive manner.
What I am about to say is critical to your growth in Christ. If your brother offends you you must go to him and speak to him about it. Of course, if you are in a dangerous situation, do not go alone in order to be safe. I am talking about normal offenses that people experience from day to day in their walk with the Lord.
Too often when we are offended we do not go to the one who offended us. The only person who can make it right. Instead, we tell others, who can do nothing to fix the situation. The only one who can bring clarification about what took place, and repent if necessary, is the one who did it.
It is easier to go and talk with someone else about what happened to you. It is less threatening. It takes less maturity and courage to talk with everyone not involved, than with those who were involved.
Many times things are shared in the hope that someone will understand how we feel and be on our side in the situation. It may feel good getting support, but it does nothing to fix the situation and restore the relationship with the one who offended you. There is a barrier and you know it.
Jesus gives us an insight on what the proper way to handle situations like this in Matthew 18:15. He says:
If you brother sins, go and show him his fault in private, if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
First of all, I recognize that not everything that offends you was caused by a person’s sin. It may just be a simple misunderstanding. You will never know unless you go and talk to the brother.
I think that the principle of going to the one who sinned against you or offended you is valid in the case of being offended. Instead of telling others, go to the source of the offense and talk it out.
SInce I am a pastor, I have the opportunity to hear many stories of people being hurt and offended by others. The first thing I always ask is if they have talked to the person about it. I can talk with you and give you counsel, but I cannot take away the offense.
I always counsel people to go to the person and get things straight. A majority of the time people do not take my advice. They do not go to the person and try to get things reconciled, so the offense is just pushed to the background or swept under the rug.
Don’t forget that Paul told us to be at peace with all men as far as it depends upon us. Ignoring an offense does not make it go away and does not bring about peace. It is a smoldering coal waiting to ignite.
If Your Brother is Offended with You
If you think it is tough to talk with someone who has offended you, Jesus has an even more amazing thing to say to you. He says that if we know that someone has something against you, you must go to them and seek to reconcile things.
It is always best to seek to do things the Lord’s way. He wants you to deal with the things in your life. He doesn’t want them to sit around and cause division and strife. Jesus says in Matthew 5:21-23:
23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
Jesus says that even if you are coming to the Temple to offer up an offering and you remember that someone has something against you that you should leave the offering and attempt to get things right.
Wait, isn't worship vital? How can I leave an offering behind to get things right? The reason is that God does not want your offering if you have stuff in your heart. He wants you to deal with the issues and then worship.
No, I’m not saying never go to church until you get everything taken care of your life. The text says if you go and remember, then deal with it.
This actually happened to me once. I sitting in the weekly chapel while in Bible College. They are just getting ready to hand out the bread and juice when the Lord speaks to me.
He says You cannot take communion until you get things straight with Henry (not real name). I turn around and look for Henry but he not in chapel. I leave the chapel to go to his dorm room.
Henry is my nemesis on campus. He was constantly against me and things I was attempting to do. He pushed the boundaries of school rules in front of me and as Head Resident of the campus, we constantly bumped heads.
I met Henry on the way to class and asked him to forgive me for the attitude I had against him. He took my apology and things changed in our relationship.
My point here is that Henry had stuff against me, but the Lord had me deal with the only thing I could deal with, my attitude. I repented for the part I played in the whole affair and made room for him to respond.
It was a great lesson to learn.
I am wondering if there is someone who has offended you, but you have not taken the time to talk with them and try to make things right? Is there someone you know who has something against you? Remember the Lord tells you to look them up and try to make things right.
You can only deal with your obedience to the Lord. You are not responsible for the response of the person. You are only responsible for your part in the situation. Remember, God says, so far as it depends on you.
God’s desire is for all relationships to be restored and whole. As we know, that does not always happen, but as far as you can, be at peace with all men.
Due to the length of this post, I will be giving you directions on how you can approach the person who offended you or is offended by you. That will have to wait until next time.
P.S. Do you have an awesome story where you went to someone and it worked out for the best? Then tell us in the comments below.
You're Invited to Join Us on the Journey
I am so thankful that you’ve joined us today. If this post has blessed you and you would like to receive more, I want to invite to join us on the journey. Each week there will be a new blog post, audio blog, and encouraging images uploaded to the site. You can sign up for our Weekly Blog Digest and receive an email in your inbox every Friday morning listing all of the materials released for the past seven days.
The goal of Experiencing His Victory is to help you grow in your relationship with God. I have a desire to see you experience everything God has for your life. If you would like to join us on the journey, click on the button below.