When tests come through those who irritate me, I have to ask myself, “Am I loving God by loving them?” If I am not loving them, I am not loving God. John’s repeated admonitions in 1 John about personal relationships convicts me every time. For example, “If someone claims, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother or sister, then he is a liar. Anyone who does not love a brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot possibly love God, whom he has never seen.” He gave us a clear command, that all who love God must also love other Christians (1 John 4:20-21). Oh my!
Offense is the act of provoking, annoying, irritating, or causing pain or injury. It is also the reaction the offense produces, like indignation, resentment, or anger, which can lead to breach in a relationship. When someone sins against us, our flesh rises up and demands retribution. But the way of grace must watch over our hearts, guard our mouths, and release the offender.
The writer of Proverbs urges us to respond to offenses by giving evidence of the grace of God. Read these statements and ask God to reveal how you responded the last time you were offended.
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11). Patience is wisdom, and wisdom lets an offense pass without responding sinfully. Love keeps no record of wrongs suffered.
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32). It is better to be patient. A Spirit-controlled response wins battles.
An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel (Proverbs 18:19). A hostile relationship is hard to win back. Contention separates people into opposing sides. Jesus died to break down the dividing walls.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity (Proverbs 21:23). When our unguarded mouth gives vent to our unhealed heart, we unleash words that hurt deeply.
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, Do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared (Proverbs 22:24-25). Don’t take personally the anger of angry people, or you will find yourself reacting to them in the same destructive way.
Calmness can lay to rest great errors [offenses] (Ecclesiastes 10:4). A quiet spirit will overcome anger and turn aside the hurtful actions of others. Identify the great forgiveness of Jesus in each situation and relationship.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins (offenses)” (Romans 4:25). We overlook offenses because Jesus took our offenses and bore them to His cross. Those who have been forgiven much will forgive much.
Jesus is the standard and He is the means, the power, and the grace for any person or situation. He never leaves us without the power to obey His commands, because He is living in us to obey. “I have told them about Your nature; and I will continue to speak of Your name in order that Your love, which was poured out on Me, will be in them. And I will also be in them” (John 17:26).