I Choose Forgiveness Over Offense
We live in a time filled with offense. However, Jesus warned us, so this is not a shocking turn of events if we examine Scripture. Matthew 24:10-12 (NKJV) says: “…then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
The thing is, we have to make a conscious choice to walk in forgiveness instead of offense, because it is all too natural for us to fall into the trap of offense. There are three main states that we can find ourselves in when we are faced with an offense:
- Thin skin, soft heart: When we are in this state, we are easily offended but we forgive almost immediately. This is a tiring state to be in, because it’s a constant cycle of hurt and forgiveness, hurt and forgiveness, hurt and forgiveness. It is a repetitive, annoying, and exhausting place to be.
- Thin skin, hard heart: In this state, we are easily offended and also unforgiving. Everything upsets us in this state, but we hang on to it. We hang on to that offense, and we do not allow forgiveness to hit the reset button. This is probably the worst state you can possibly be in concerning offense, because it isolates you from literally everyone. You’re going to feel offense sooner or later (probably sooner) and if you cannot forgive it, it will eat at you. Thin skin and a hard heart can destroy us.
- Thick skin, soft heart: In this state, we are not easily offended, and we also forgive easily when hurt does come our way. This is the state we want to be in. This is how Jesus went about His life, and we need to as well so that we can walk in the life God has for us.
This is an important passage for us to always keep in the forefront of our minds and hearts: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (TPT) says: “Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving…” Love is patient, love is gentle – love doesn’t hold on to offense.
- Offense is a trap. Luke 17:1 (NKJV): Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!” Offenses will come; that is not up for debate. We will be faced with plenty of opportunities for wallowing in offense, but we cannot allow ourselves to fall into that trap. Let’s look at the Greek word Skandalon: a trap, a snare, a stumbling block – in other words, an offense. Forgiveness is like setting a captive free and then realizing that you were the captive. Offense is a terrible trap, and we can waste so much time when we marinate in the ways we’ve been wronged – set yourself free and let go of that offense.
- Offense prevents God’s works. This is a frightening truth. 6:1-5 (NKJV) says: “Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.’ Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them…” Those people couldn’t get over their feelings of offense – and sadly, that prevented them from experiencing all Jesus wanted to offer them.
Proverbs 19:11 (NIV) states this piece of wisdom: “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” It is a noble – as well as beneficial – thing to overlook an offense done to us. We cannot fully walk in all our Father has for us if we are bound by offense.
- Offenses are contagious. Being offended is contagious. We don’t want to spread anger and strife to everyone around us just because we’re feeling wronged. Luke 17:1-3 (NKJV) explains: “Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” Forgiveness and grace is the important thing here; we can get dragged down and destroyed by offense and we can drag others down with us.
Let’s take this with us today: Colossians 3:12-14 (TLB): “Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of his deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don’t worry about making a good impression on them but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.” Choosing forgiveness over offense is choosing love, and that will be reflected in every area of your life. Let’s walk in thick skins and soft hearts – it will transform us as well as those around us.