Monday, May 24, 2010

What to do when you get offended . . .

An unfortunate position to be in is having someone wrongfully offend or abuse you. (I think I heard someone say, “No duh!”). Of course it’s not good when someone wrongfully hurts or abuses you. But I’m talking about the difficulty in dealing with the relationship afterwards.

Think about this scenario: Someone takes advantage of you, does you wrong, etc. If you operate according to Scripture you have to forgive that person. You also have to make efforts to deal with the anger and frustration in order to avoid bitterness.

No matter how you decide to handle it you are in a difficult situation, at least in most cases. If you DON’T go to the person, confront them and work toward reconciliation, you run the risk of becoming bitter and holding a grudge. If you DO go to that person, there is a very good chance that the person will resent you, talk bad about you, etc. Then the relationship is even worse. As New Yorkers are fond of saying, “What are ya gonna do?”

Well, let’s be clear about the demands of Scripture in these circumstances. Matthew 5:23 says:

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."

It is clear from this Scripture that the offending person should seek out the person who was offended and seek reconciliation. Now, consider Matthew 18:15-17:

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

It is clear from this passage that the offended person is to seek out the offender and attempt to be reconciled. When taken together, these two passages make it clear that, when offenses come, both sides are to actively seek reconciliation.

In a perfect world, everyone would operate according to these two Scriptures and we would live in reconciliation. Sadly, this is not the case. Unfortunately, things can be made "worse" by doing what is right. So, what is the answer?

Well, of course we should do right and live according to Scripture. However, there is another verse that can work as a preventative approach. In 1 Corinthians 6:7, Paul says:

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

In a nutshell, Paul is advocating that, instead of going to the secular courts for arbitration between two Christians in order to settle offenses, go instead to the church. OK. That’s a point well taken. But then he says, “Why not rather be wronged?” Essentially he is saying, “Why go to anyone? Just be wronged.”

Now that’s interesting. Instead of being offended and taking that offense to the church or even to the person, just don’t be offended.

Now there is more to say about this, but I’m going to let it simmer for a bit.


  1. Considering there are very few people making any comments;(Ha Ha) It is interesting that we would rather see "justice" done than just be wronged. Personally when unbelieving loved ones offend me, I want to let other believers know how I feel or ask them what to do next. It is a lonely place to be in when the offender does not want to reconcile and the only option you have is to be wronged. Man (I) like to remember what we were like in the past, how we hold onto the offenses and the faults.

    But as I read Hebrews I now have Jesus the High Priest that meets all our needs right? Hebrews 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more". He states it plainly in His Word; "When you come to Me, don't think that I'm thinking about your sins. Don't think that every time I look at you , I am reminded of your sins. Not only am I not keeping a record, but I am also not mindful of your failures and shortcomings. I am telling you that I will remember your sins no more, never again!" So the good news is that all my sins have already been dealt with at the cross. They have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. Now if God sees me without failures and sins how can I hold onto the failures and faults of others that hurt me? I am learning that I can't...... (John 19:30) So Thats why Jesus said "It is finished!" (Hebrews 8:25) So he is able,now and always to save those who come to God through him because he lives forever to plead with God for them.

  2. Wow, Michael! I would love to leave a long response to your comment but it would only be stealing your thunder! I could not have said it any better! It's like Joseph. His brothers did badly but their behavior got him to his destiny. So, how angry can he be? "It was not you who brought me here but God."