“You need to lower your dating standards, be nicer to men, and act like a real Christian. I did nothing to you, and yet you blocked me. Yes I moved to Nashville to find a girlfriend and potential wife, but not impressed because a lot of women here are stuck up and only want The Bachelor to approach them, which is unrealistic.”
I took a week off social media and this was the message I came back to on facebook. It sounds like a one-star google review, and we know how accurate those are.
I was not dating this man, nor were we even in conversation. We have a few humans loosely in common, but I literally have never even met him. When I deactivated my accounts for a few days he became offended, made it about himself, and chose to chastise a complete stranger.
My personal dating standards aside, this is a classic case displaying what offense does. It deceives us into thinking someone’s actions are about us. We think people are being mean and hurtful when in reality we haven’t crossed their mind at all. Not everything everyone does is about us. This guy thought I was rejecting him when I was over here in my own world doing my own thing, not even knowing he existed.
We’ve all been there in one way or another. Maybe not in such an extreme way, but we’ve all experienced offense.
Recently I was offended by something that honestly had very little to do with me. After being super childish and petty about it for a couple days, ready to completely cut someone off, God asked me if that was really how I wanted to “fix” the issue. He showed me I had actually been holding and building months of offense toward this person, where I had contributed to the issue, and that I had to address it head-on instead of avoiding conflict or a person entirely.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.Hebrews 12:14-15
Offense must be confronted and brought to light, but obviously not in the way this man confronted me. He was clearly offended at more than just a stranger’s actions.
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.Proverbs 19:11
Instead of pointing the finger at someone else’s mistakes, first ask God to reveal what’s going on beneath the surface of you. Is it unmet expectations? Is it you misunderstanding their words or behavior? Is it a deeper, unresolved pain from your past that is being triggered now? WHY are you offended?
Now, if you need to verbalize forgiveness for a person, if there has been a true conflict that needs to be sorted, and definitely if you need to repent for something you’ve done against someone else, then approach that person in humility and seek reconciliation. But I will say this – and I’ve again learned the hard way – you don’t actually need to have the “I forgive you” conversation with everyone. If through your conversations with the Lord, you learn you’ve been holding onto offense because you perceived a wrongdoing and the other person has no idea they’ve even hurt you, you might just need to repent and release that offense to God. Don’t drag a person into your mess when they didn’t actually do anything to you or you’ve misinterpreted the situation.
Offense is a poison that will flow deep through your veins to calcify walls around your heart. It’s our job to guard our hearts against the spirit of offense, regardless of what others are doing to us or around us, or it will destroy us from the inside out.
It is imperative that we purge all offense from our hearts because we are called to be united with our brothers and sisters. Offense is the most common tool the enemy uses to stir up strife and create division within the Body of Christ. Offense is the root cause of countless broken friendships, divorces, family discord, and churches splitting different ways.
Fight for unity. Seek forgiveness and reconciliation as best as you can. Where there is unity, the Lord commands blessing.
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.Psalm 133