How many people can relate to this statement? “I’m not going back to church.” or “Only hypocrites in church.” Many people have in the past or are currently experiencing church hurt. In the world right now, there are people speaking of it everywhere. Twitter even had a hashtag trending on #Churchhurt. There are celebrities openly discussing this topic.
Everyone, at one point or another, deal with offense, because it happens daily. It comes from our spouses, friends, co-workers, children, Pastors, church members, people at the stores we shop at, family members etc. We can’t hide from it, and can only control our reaction and response to it. (Photo by Stephane YAICH on Unsplash)
However, what I want you to recognize is the testing that comes along daily in your life. How you handle offense is a test. If you walk around taking everything personally, it will hinder your progress in life, naturally and spiritually. The devil will constantly attack you in that area, and create opportunities for you to be offended. Likewise, God will use those same opportunities for you to rise above the offense. Pay attention. Everyone isn’t against you. Some things have nothing to do with you. In fact, some people are trapped in their own world, and internalize everything.
How do I know this? I have first hand knowledge. I was taking everything personally. It would cause many issues in my marriage and in my mind. I couldn’t hear criticism from my husband and would listen to respond instead of to understand. I would interrupt often in defense of myself. The Lord, through my different experiences, matured me in this area. Sometimes it still rears its ugly head, but I see it, and handle it. It no longer handles me. Glory to God!
Dealing with Offense
Have you had friends or family members that you extend or overly extend yourself to but it isn’t reciprocated? Or people use you knowingly or unknowingly because you are kind? I have, and it’s easy to get offended in those instances. But actually it’s better to take inventory of yourself. Maybe you are too accessible, and say “Yes” too much for fear of offending? Pay attention to how you move. You may be getting offended by something that you are allowing. They may actually be oblivious to it.
Have you ever cringed in your seat, hearing the Pastor say something that you think is about you? And could very well be about you. How do you handle that? Do you get angry? Offended? The spirit of offense will have his way all over you and most will let him. You won’t even be able to hear the wisdom that is being spoken by the Pastor because you would be stuck on the assumed offense. He/She may not have been trying to offend you, but that is the way most will take it. Offense will blind, hinder and bind you up. It will dictate your thoughts, moves, and emotions. Don’t let it. Be free!
We use our social media as a venting platform many times. I read reactions to offense regularly on social media. For example, we react to events that happen to us before first thinking and calming down. We post hastily and may later have regrets, because we are reacting in the moment. I wrote a post about this here. God sees everything. No one is immune from His correction. It’s one thing to share your story to edify the body, and teach based on the lessons that you’ve learned from your experiences, and another to blast someone just to vent. We don’t want to tear people down. Especially those in the faith. Don’t sow discord. We do reap what we sow.
I have heard countless stories about church hurt and offense. Haven’t you? Everyone in church has experienced something or another related to offense;however, we can’t lose focus. Let me share one with you.
A sister spoke to me in a disrespectful way in front of others at church. I was offended. I did ask to speak privately with her and told her how I didn’t like the way she spoke to me. (Matthew 18:15) We are both grown, even though she was older than I was, it was no excuse. There is a way to get your point across without being mean and disrespectful. She apologized but how many know, it didn’t leave me right away? I’d seen her do that to others as well. Initially, I avoided her while at church, but it seemed as if everywhere I looked she was there. I said, “Lord, you have a sense of humor.”
You see, He was stretching me. Hiding and avoidance is not a mature way to handle things. Offense has no place in the believer. I let it go. This isn’t about the sister. This is about me and how I handled that situation. There is always a situation. What God showed me is that just like He is working on me, He was working on her. We are all flawed. I am to have compassion, and pray for them. Once I started doing that things changed in my life. It isn’t easy to pray for people who hurt you, but God says for us to do just that in His Word. (Luke 6:27-29) I asked Him to let me see people as He sees them. I forgave and I forgive continually throughout the day. I hope others do the same for me. No one wants their prayers hindered. (Matthew 5:23)
My outlook changed
In these situations and countless others, I remind myself how we are all one body, and the Lord isn’t finished with us. I want you to remember this also. I am able to hear criticism, and handle disagreements. When things fall apart, many times, it’s just to come together again. In auxiliaries, remember that you are working unto the Lord. Actually, keep that outlook even in your secular job. It will keep you together.
The Lord was teaching me something. Is He likewise teaching you? He is always toughening up my skin for the journey ahead. I get it. I must also walk in meekness and gentleness, which are fruits of the Spirit. This is a daily thing. He is concerned with my heart condition and yours. He works on us from the inside out–working on our character.
What does God want?
What is He calling for you and I to do in any given situation? Do you know?
Here is an example of what I say to myself: I will not be offended. I am casting every thought down that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and will think on things that are positive. I’m going to pursue peace, regardless of what the other person is doing.” I talk myself off the ledge, so to speak. I can’t let my thoughts and mind just do whatever. I can’t trust it. Nor can I trust my emotions. God wants us to walk and follow after His son Jesus Christ, and walk in love, forgiveness, and faith! He wants us to give a “God” response and not a carnal one.
Consequently, I’ve learned that I can step away from a situation as to not hinder a relationship. I’ve also learned to forgive even when I’m hurt and don’t understand, for the sake of relationship. See this is when knowledge and wisdom come into play.
You elevate in God with each wise move and each area of obedience. Click To Tweet
You may have knowledge of the scripture, how many times to forgive my brother, but the wisdom is in the application of the scripture. (Matthew 18:21-22) You may have knowledge of, turn the other cheek, but the wisdom is in the practical application of actually turning the other cheek. (Matthew 5:38-40) No, it doesn’t feel good going through that, but the refining process is priceless.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said for us to love our Heavenly Father with all of our heart, and second to love our neighbor. He also said to do good to those in the faith. Relationships are very important to God. He loves people–not denominations, or our preconceived notions of how things should be or people should be.
Tips and suggestions
We have a job to do out here and it’s to plant and water. The Lord will cause the increase. We are to make disciples.
We limit God by our unforgiveness, even in those matters. Talk with yourself and cast those thoughts down. What about when people let you down? Forgive them and pray for them. You let people down too, you know?
God is stretching us in those uncomfortable moments. How can you be prepared for a greater level, if you can’t handle the small stuff?
If you are in ministry and desiring more, you must learn how to handle a small group. The Lord says if we are faithful in the small things, we will be faithful in large ones. (Luke 16:10) People are not easy, yet the Lord has grace for us. We must extend grace one to another. Love is the Word of the day. Everyday. I have 2 books that will help you immensely in this area. Click here for more info.
Here are 10 suggestions that I have for you:
- If it isn’t edifying, don’t say it.
- After an offense don’t go immediately to facebook and post, pause ten minutes. After that, you won’t even want to post it.
- Think before you speak.
- Pray and ask God for help. Ask Him in sincerity and He will respond.
- Be mindful of the words you speak. Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
- Forgive the offense and let the Lord handle the situation. He cares about everything that has to do with you. You’re His child.
- Recognise that there are evil spirits looking for an opening to oppress you daily and set up strongholds. Offense is an opening.
- Don’t focus on feelings. Being too emotional will hurt you everytime. Think. Use your brain. The heart is deceitful. Be wise.
- Pray for the person who offended you. It’s hard to stay mad at someone that you pray for.
- Make a decision. Be intentional. You are in control of your actions. Decide not to be offended.
Finally, what controls you? Flesh or Spirit? Spirit has you deny yourself. Flesh indulges your impulses and emotions. Flesh cares for self. Spirit for others. Flesh wants revenge. Spirits understands that vengeance belongs to the Lord, and He will repay. Flesh wants instant gratification. Spirit understands to wait on the Lord and be of good courage. Flesh wants to speak on every offense. Spirit rebukes spirit and prays. The enemy is a liar. Never forget that. Don’t make moves based on emotions, because they change throughout the day based on circumstances. Stay rooted in what God wants. Offense takes your eyes off of God and puts them on yourself. Keep God and His purpose in front of you.
Pray this prayer: Father God. I thank you, and appreciate all that you do for me. I thank you for your reminders, and being long suffering towards me. Thank you for your Grace and Mercy. Father, in the name of Jesus I ask for forgiveness in any way that I’ve fallen short in thought or deed. Father create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. I want to walk in your ways Father. Forgive me as I forgive those who hurt me. I will not hold on to offense. From this day forward I will be mindful of my thoughts towards others. I will be mindful of my words towards others. I pray that you strengthen me in my spirit. Help me in my daily walk Father, as I want to do your will. Less of me and more of you. Bring to my remembrance anything that I need to repent of and I will do so. I thank you Father for hearing my prayer and hearing my heart. In Jesus name. Amen.
What are your experiences with offense and forgiveness in church or just in everyday life? Lets talk.