Summary: Last week we talked about the trap of offence and some of the main problems associated with being offended - false assumptions, our expectations, pride, disobedience, self-preservation, and revenge. Today I want us to look at the cure so we don’t allow o
“Nobody will ever want you for anything but making babies” her drunken father said when he found out that his 15 year daughter was pregnant. I got to counsel this women at age 42, an alcoholic for 15 years, 6 babies with four different men, two of them aborted. Now on welfare with all her children taken away into foster care at very young ages.
She asks me what’s wrong with me? Obviously there were other things, but that comment her father made 27 years ago was instrumental in putting her life on the course it was on. There could not have been a more offensive and hurtful thing he could have said in her deeply emotional state, when she needed love the most. Sure she made a mistake but she carried this offense and let it dictate her view of herself for her entire adult life.
This is an extreme example, and this woman found healing eventually, but it demonstrates what we often do when others offend us. She hated her father and that hatred poisoned her every day of her life. She couldn’t punish him but she punished herself, and by living the way she did there was a part of her that irrationally thought that if she became what he said she was, that would somehow “show him”. It did nothing to him but the result was a miserable life wasted on a terribly misguided attempt to get back at her father for how he treated her.
Last week we talked about the trap of offence and some of the main problems associated with being offended - false assumptions, our expectations, pride, disobedience, self-preservation, and revenge.
Today I want us to look at the cure so we don’t allow offence to disrupt our lives. I said that we will not grow spiritually or emotionally until we honestly examine our inner life, and so the first thing I want to address this morning is the need to:
We need to see our own true condition and focus on our reactions rather than on what the other person said or did. Once something is said or done, it can’t be taken away, and often it can’t be fixed by the other person. If we spend our time and energy wishing and trying to get the other person to make up for what they did, we’re in big trouble.
For instance, if your spouse cheats on you, how do they fix that? They can’t make it so it didn’t happen, they can’t change the way you feel about it. I have seen husbands and wives spend their entire marriage trying to make up for what they did, but it never really makes a difference. Obviously what they did was wrong, and it hurt the other person to the core, but they can’t fix it, they can’t make it better after the fact. That healing and real forgiveness can only come from within yourself, with God’s help of course.
So even when we are deeply wounded by another person we have to take responsibility for ourselves eventually, even when it happens in childhood. Sometimes that will mean detaching from a relationship so that the person cannot continue to hurt us, but most often it means looking at your reaction and making a decision about how you are going to proceed with this offense.
I mentioned Luke 17 verse 3 last week. Jesus was talking about the fact that offense will come, but in verse 3 he says pay attention to yourselves if someone sins against you. In Acts 24:16 the same author records Paul saying, “So I often take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” It’s not easy.
Was there ever a person offended and hurt without deserving it more than Jesus? Maybe we need to:
Let Jesus be our teacher and model (Mt 5:21-26, 38-48, 18:15-17; Lk 23:34)
Part of being human, and especially being a Christian, is that we often have to do things that we don’t feel like doing, if we want good things to happen. So we need to let Jesus be our teacher and model. We must look at the word, see how Jesus lived and what he instructed us to do, and commit to living that way even if it’s difficult or we don’t feel like it.
Jesus gives us very specific instruction on how to deal with offense and relational problems in the book of Matthew. Look at Mt 5:21-26 when we are feeling angry with someone…
Unresolved anger is a prison, and until you are reconciled, you will be in a state of punishment yourself. Anger kills people, anger causes disease. The number one emotional factor in heart disease is unresolved anger. And notice here it’s talking about your anger, but it’s also talking about someone having something against you, or accusing you of something. Isn’t that often where our anger comes from?