Article by Steven Anderson, Healing Rooms Scotland
The article is from the book ‘Life to the Full‘ by Steven Anderson and James Renwick.
“An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city” Proverbs 18:19
Have you ever taken the huff over something someone said to you, or felt put out if you were overlooked or ignored? If your answer is ‘no’ then you are an exception!
An offended heart is very hard to reach out to, and it is the taking of offence that is one of the biggest causes of relationships breaking down. Offence is like a brick wall we put round our heart. It is also therefore one of the biggest causes of people falling away from following Jesus and from being part of their Christian community. It is really important that we do not give in to offence but seek to develop an unoffendable heart.
Who do we get offended by?
We don’t tend to be offended by the words and reactions of strangers or people who have little significance in our lives. We are more likely to get offended by people close to us. We can even feel offended by God, for example if we feel he hasn’t answered our prayers. It is those who are significant to us that are the most likely to cause us offence.
What can cause us to be offended?
When we have an expectation to be loved and accepted and when we perceive that that doesn’t happen, we can feel offence. We can get offended when we feel we are not valued or respected or taken seriously. When we feel that we’ve been ignored, overlooked or dismissed we can take offence, or if we feel insulted or put down. Sometimes we can take offence when absolutely no offence was intended.
Why do we take offence?
Offence may be given but you don’t have to take it! When we do take offence it is usually being built on previous wounds, fears and insecurities in our lives. For example, if someone suffered a lot of ridicule as a child which hurt them deeply, then even if someone says something to them as a joke but it sounds like ridicule, they may well take great offence as it strikes on the open wound in their life. Ultimately it is our sense of pride that gets offended, and pride is the main thing the Lord wants to remove from our lives.
If your sense of personal value and significance is rooted anywhere else other than in your relationship with Jesus, then you will suffer offence at times.
How can we become unoffendable?
You will get hurt at times, or ignored or overlooked but you don’t have to give in to offence at these times. If you see that Jesus gives you extreme personal value and significance, and you are secure in him, then no-one can take that from you. No remark, rebuff or rejection from people can alter the truth of who you are in Christ Jesus.
Keeping an unoffendable heart:
- Let go of any sense of pride in yourself.
- Recognise that you don’t have the ‘right’ to take offence. You surrendered your rights to Jesus when he became Lord of your life.
- Embrace your new self which is secure in Christ, in the acceptance, approval, affirmation and adequacy that he gives to you.
- When any offensive remarks or actions come your way, refuse to take offence or get caught up in it.
- Live continually in an attitude of forgiveness towards anyone who wrongs you in any way.