Offence 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 pairs of statements from a very wise man, 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 by 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 than warlike or contentious. 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 great errors [offenses] to rest (Ecclesiastes 10:4). A quiet spirit will overcome great anger and turn aside the hurtful actions of others.
“Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle (offense or occasion to fall) in your brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). Identify the redemptive purpose of Jesus in each situation and relationship. Our motivation is in the great forgiveness of Jesus. We overlook offenses because Jesus took our offenses and bore them to His cross.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins (offenses)” (Romans 4:25). Those who have been forgiven much will forgive much.
By Sylvia Gunter
Used by Permission
• The Power of Forgiveness | by Dr. Henry Brandt
• Bitterness in the Garden of our Hearts | by Francis Frangipane