A recent run got me thinking about how easy it is to get offended.
It all started when a friend’s response to my absence caught me off guard. We don’t talk everyday but quite recently and suddenly she was gone…poof. I was so confused. What had I said or done? Where did I go wrong? Did she misunderstand me? Did I misunderstand her? Work and other commitments had kept me busy, and I hadn’t heard from her so why was she caught up by the silence? Why was it ok for her to be silent but not for me? I was so confused, and I caught myself getting mad and miffed. It took a moment to calm down.
Like a bull horn, I heard in my spirit, ”Guard your heart!!” Why? When I take offence, there is a deeper issue at hand. Sometimes our personal state of heart and mind make us susceptible to being offended and that is why we have to keep our hearts guarded.
Keep your heart with all diligence (guard your heart), For out of it spring the issues of life. Prov 4:23
I remembered Jimmy. He loved teasing people and it often overboard. He thought it was all good fun except, one person in the office, we’ll call her Purity, was hyper-sensitive so she all jokes to heart. It was obvious to everyone that he didn’t mean anything by them but to her…it was true and real.
Purity and Jimmy used to sit near each other but one day it all came to head and she got so mad at him. She wasn’t one for open confrontation and when she reached her limit, she asked a colleague who sat clear across the room if they could switch desks. Once they agreed, she waited until most people had left on Friday then moved all her ready for Monday.
Over the weekend, Jimmy had done some introspection of the situation and realised that he had overstepped the bounds. He came in on Monday morning ready to apologise and move on but it wouldn’t be as simple as he thought. Purity was the master avoider so he couldn’t get her to have the conversation as easily as he had thought.
She was so offended that she put every barrier she could think of in place. Not only had she changed her sitting position, she had taken up a desk just outside the boss’s door so it was hard for anyone to go there and discuss things. She had also signed up for a new project and the spent the next two weeks in strategy and planning.
Was Jimmy the cause of her pain? Yes and no. Was there anything he could do to avoid the hurt? Yes. Was she responsible for her response? Absolutely. Did they find a way to resolve it? Eventually they talked but the damage was done and they were never able to be friends or even friendly colleagues. They simply opted to work together respectfully.
It is important to understand ourselves and those we associate closely to avoid offence.
We all respond differently to offense yet we must all be careful to deal with it as quickly as possible. Ephesians 4:26-31 speaks to me very clearly about letting go of anger, bitterness, wrath and evil in some really actionable steps.
Be angry but do not sin: Christ himself had instances of anger. Remember the time he whipped guys in the temple? Remember when he called the Pharisees a brood of vipers? He was angry but he did not let it fester rather he let it out and stood firm on the word of God. This must be our pattern. Yes you or I will get angry. However, the solution lies in digging up the root cause and dealing with that. I like to ask myself, why did X trigger that anger in me? Am I really mad at X or are other things in my life causing my emotions to be unsteady hence my eruption? What is my part in this situation? Is there another way out? I remember I blew up at someone recently over a very small thing and when I tracked it, the anger was from a very different place but it came to the surface because of a response from another. Uncover the real source or cause of the anger.
Do not let the sun go down on your wrath: This means you have to deal with the offence rapidly and not let it fester. Do not hold onto it or turn it over and over in your mind. Remember the instance where I blew up at someone but the cause was something else? I had to go back to the real matter and deal with it. Why? If I don’t, it will continue to fester and I will continue to explode on and hurt people who aren’t the cause and don’t know the real reason. It is like having a painless boil that looks like pimple on the surface but under the skin…it is different. One day, the pain will come to the surface and unless you have it proper cut and drained, the insides will always remain infected and will pass the infection to other parts of the body. Deal with the root cause of the anger until it is done.
Do not give place to the devil: Unresolved anger, frustration, negativity etc. gives darkness a through pass into your life and my life. It gives him a place to hang his jacket and the opportunity to invite his counterparts to join him (Matt 12:43-45). It opens us up to trouble we cannot see right then. I believe that his moves are so subtle that when he tries to take up residence, unless you are vigilant and dealing with offence actively, you will miss the attack and by the time you realise it, you are under oppression, prone to many forms of corruption and the road out of there will be longer and harder. Be vigilant to guard your space and place.
Give the Holy Spirit space: One thing I know about the Holy Spirit is that He is gentle and does not clamour or fight for space. He is never aggressive but speaks the word of God to us and calls us to respond. He is deeply grieved when we do not hear or respond to His prompting because our lack of response limits His ability to move in our lives and it also impacts our ability to be the effective servants of God and game changers in our generation for Him. Let us learn to be still and hear the voice of the Spirit of God, for He guides us into all truth.
Very often, we take offence and justify ourselves because the other person hurt us or took something from us. We even call people close to us, tell them the story and they agree that our hurt feelings are justified and we hold our ground. However, could it be that God wants you learn to forgive and share love? Could it be there is something in you He is highlighting through this instance? Could it be that this is the cusp or ledge or gateway to new revelation and we are holding offence? Let’s stop hiding and move on through life at God’s pace
- Acknowledge the hurt and uncover the root cause.
- Take it to the Father for review.
- Identify you part in the situation and the lesson to learn.
- Extend forgiveness for the sake of your own soul.
- Bless the person and invite the Father to watch over them.
- Get back to living your life to fullness God has designed for you.
26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give [a]place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary [b]edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, [c]clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Eph 4:26-31 NKJV