In Luke 17:1, Jesus says it is impossible that no offenses will come. In Greek, the word for offenses can mean hindrances, obstacles, or stumbling blocks. And that’s what the spirit of offense does—it hinders our walk with Christ.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I am offended, I lose my religion. I can be having a full-on spiritual revival in my car, listening to my worship music, and feeling the very presence of God. But when someone cuts me off without using a blinker, suddenly my heart loses focus, and I’m yelling out, “Jesus, you better take the wheel because I’m about to rear-end a Pharisee!”
But God has been working on my heart lately, and He has revealed that I tend to get so caught up in the fruit of my offense that I ignore the root of my offense. Not just in the car, but also at home, at work, and even at church. More often than not, my offense is coming from a misplaced or self-centered need.
- My need to be acknowledged leads to the offense of being ignored.
- My need to be right leads to the offense of being belittled.
- My need to be liked leads to the offense of being rejected.
- My need to be needed leads to the offense of being discarded.
- My need to be praised leads to the offense of being insulted.
Jesus could easily have spent His whole life being offended. He was ignored, belittled, rejected, discarded, and insulted. But He chose not to let the offenses offend Him or keep Him from what He was called to do. Instead, His final words on the cross were, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
And He tells us to do the same. Jesus confirms that offenses will come, but He continues on in that same verse to say that when your brother offends you, you should forgive him.
Why? Because we can’t fulfill our calling if we are too busy being offended, and we stop being offended when we forgive the offense.
“But I don’t know if I can forgive them.”
If that’s true for you today, then you’re not alone. I’ve been there. When I was feeling betrayed, bitter, and broken, Jesus met me where I was—and then He offended me by pointing out He had forgiven me for much worse.
It’s easy to take offense to God’s truth when we aren’t walking in it, but rather than shoot the messenger when we feel convicted, we need to dig for the root. If you can’t find it in yourself to forgive someone, searching your heart will often reveal something you need to turn away from, whether it’s pride, self-righteousness, insecurity, or something else.
If we want to stop being offended by everything, we have to deal with our roots so they will stop growing fruit. So go out and forgive someone today.
(Especially the Pharisee who cut you off this morning.)