To be offended means to be annoyed, hurt, or resentful because of another’s perceived insult. I find it interesting how this definition includes the word perceived. Perception refers to how we as individuals see things, it does not necessarily give the full picture of the offender’s point of view but paints how another’s reaction made us feel. I suppose there are times when it is okay to be upset or angry about what others do/ did to offend us, depending on the level of insult. If people offend us continuously it would be unhealthy not to deal with it. However, I wonder how much of our power we hand over to others when we should not. For instance, if Person A is in a foul mood and does not want to see anyone smiling on that day, is it fair for Person B’s mood to also be ruined by A’s situation, how many times do we allow other people’s stuff to spoil our moods?
In today’s blog post I focus on what an individual can do to reject the spirit of offense- it can operate as a nasty spirit especially if people are still wounded and remain unhealed- everything offends them. The point I want to make today is that our response to situations is our responsibility. We cannot control what the next person does, but we surely have the power to decide what sticks to our hearts. An important key to dealing with an offense is forgiveness, let us unpack this.
Forgiveness is the ability to let go of situations, whether you have received an apology or not. That certainly does not excuse or justify the bad behavior of others, but it allows you to respond with grace, for your mental health. God has taken me on this journey many times. Friends, family, and colleagues will continue to offend, irritate, or hurt you, sometimes intentionally, other times unintentionally. We also, can do that to others, whether we are aware of it or not. I think the gift of forgiveness must be imparted to children from a young age, the minute they learn this as children, it will help their minds understand its importance or critical value as adults when those curve balls are being thrown at them. Ahh, what a relief it is to be able to forgive others and yourself.
1.We forgive because God expects us to
When this concept first got introduced to me, I must be honest I questioned God’s loyalty towards me, as ashamed as I am to admit this, but it is true. I often felt justified to hold a grudge, hardly thinking about the many times I expected to be forgiven. With time, our patient God taught me that forgiveness is His gift to us as His children. As Jesus cried out when He was on the cross, “forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do”, so should we as we choose to give the gift of forgiveness to others, as God forgave us too. God gives us the instruction to forgive, it is not an option, although God will not force us to forgive. The word of God says we must forgive, period (Mark 11:25). I speak so freely at this moment as though it is a walk in the park, but I know it is not. I have battled to forgive others and myself, I sometimes still do but I am learning to surrender to God because He knows best. We must understand that forgiveness must become a lifestyle, not just that one big act you do occasionally. I say this because there are situations that will require you to forgive more than once, of course, you will need to use wisdom in terms of how to deal or engage moving forward but I am referring to the heart condition. When disappointed or hurt, we must learn to let go and forgive the situation. In the end, when you have released this gift, it brings freedom and allows your heart to still be in good standing with God. When our hearts are clogged up with unforgiveness, we open ourselves to all sorts of disadvantages such as mental breakdowns, broken hearts, offended spirits, gloomy moods, unhealthy habits, and strained relationship with God, etc. however, when we choose to forgive, we are immediately set free in our hearts and minds. Both the mind and heart are extremely important particularly because they can influence our decision-making, therefore it is vital to keep these clear of negativity as much as we possibly can.
2.Forgiveness brings freedom
We all have some issues that we are dealing with in our lives, some people are more silent about it than others. I know it is difficult to be compassionate when you are going through things but what we forget is our reaction to situations will either land us in “prison” or in a place of “freedom”. The prison in this case can either be frustration, anger, bitterness, or triggering mental health problems such as depression or anxiety disorder. Freedom on the other hand can look something like “I may not be where I want to be but I know God is in control, therefore I choose to release this uncomfortable situation to you God” or “I am upset with this situation but I know that if I wallow here long enough, it will still not be resolved, I, therefore, choose to allow you to take this heavy burden dear God and release me from it”. When we think of forgiveness as the simple process that it is, it helps us in taking the first step to implementing it. Take note, I used the word simple and not easy, it is a difficult thing to do but it is simple in the sense that the first step only requires you to decide. A decision that is not necessarily based on how lovely or horrible a situation may feel but looking at the result, which is freedom. When we choose to forgive anyway, we choose to be free, free of burdens and free from being offended unnecessarily. This decision yields good fruit and works towards the good of everyone involved. You remain in peace; you have obeyed God and others’ sins are pardoned. The impact of this act far exceeds the wonderful feeling we get by releasing, it removes any unnecessary blockages to your soul.
Are you offended by something/ someone this week? If yes, what are you going to do about it? Will you allow the situation to consume you and control what mental space you should be in? Does that please God? Does that please or poison your soul? If you are offended, I encourage you to be brave enough to acknowledge how messed up your situation may be, but then also decide to forgive, release whatever/ whoever may be bugging you, and allow God to cleanse your heart. This same situation may come back again but continue to journey in forgiveness because it gives you back your power, the power to allow the joy and peace of God to continue flowing in you, despite it all. If it is any consolation, I too am regularly challenged with this concept, but I am committed to implementing it as often as I should, so should you. Do your part, God will help you with rest.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life”. -John 6:63