Righteous anger arises when we witness an offense against God or His Word. In essence, it is anger towards actions that make God angry because it is evil and goes against His righteousness. Righteous anger is directed at the sin, not the sinner. It does not pay evil for evil. But, righteous anger and our Godly response to that is a topic for another day.
Taking offense is when we become upset or angry at what another person has said or done, which can usually be an unnecessary reaction or emotion. In essence, you feel that another person has been inconsiderate or insulting, and you are immediately upset about it. The offense is taken against a person and not the sin or the situation. We all have expectations for ourselves and others. When people do not live up to these, we feel disappointed and hurt. We can so easily feel offended when loved ones fail or hurt us. We believe that they should know and behave better, especially fellow Believers.
I believe that in the body of Christ, it is easy for people to be offended because of the blind spot that Believers would not disappoint us. Matthew and Paul both write that people will be more deceived in the end times and be offended by other Believers. Taking offense is an easy trap to fall into these days. The world is very much opinion-driven than truth-driven.
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
Matthew 24:10-12 KJV
We all get angry, but such a reaction is a choice and should not be a prolonged response. I believe that if we take offense easily and regularly, it is a sign of emotional immaturity. It is choosing to look with a critical, judgmental, and selfish eye at other people’s actions and focusing on how things affect us. It is living inwardly with a victim mentality as opposed to outwardly, with the aim of love for people and how to live in Christ’s victory.
Some people have deep hurts or trauma that cause them to take offense easily. They do not trust people. They are usually skeptical of people’s motives and misread people’s actions as aimed towards them personally. If it sounds like you, I want to encourage you to seek God’s wisdom and truth. Jesus promises and gives victory, healing, and restoration for any hurt. With God, you can take control and be completely free. He can restore your body, mind, soul, and relationships. Let’s take the steps towards healing and maturity and choose to pursue truth in all aspects of our lives.
Perception is the way you think about or understand something or someone. Perception is not the truth because it is filtered through emotion and past experiences. The problem we have is that we easily take offense because of misinterpretations of a person or situation. There are always three sides to a story. Yours, theirs, and God’s (the real truth). Walking in truth is liberating, as John writes.
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32 ESV
Taking an offense is a lie from the enemy, muddled-up in emotion, aimed to destroy unity and relationships.
He reverts our focus from himself, the orchestrator of the lie, to another person. The enemy happily uses our feelings and perception of a situation to stir up offense within us. When unresolved, this offense can develop within another sin. The offense is thus just the tip of the iceberg. When we leave it to fester, it leads to sin and bigger destructive emotions, and the destruction of relationships. All because of the enemy’s deception and scheme to move our focus from God’s truth. I wonder how many battles or wars started because of unresolved offenses taken by people?
“But don’t let the passion of your emotions lead you to sin! Don’t let anger control you or be fuel for revenge, not for even a day. Don’t give the slanderous accuser, the Devil, an opportunity to manipulate you!”
Ephesians 4:26-27 TPT
Think about gardening as an example. When we want to remove weeds, we do not just snip the leaves or branches off but remove the whole root system. Similarly, the offense is the little seed of deception that can germinate and grow roots that results in bigger problems of a much larger scale if not dealt with quickly. It suffocates our growth. We develop feelings of resentment, hate, isolation, bitterness, unforgiveness, anxiety, depression, and sometimes even sickness.
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Hebrews 12:15 NIV
“Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; for the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us].”
James 1:19-20 AMP
Here are some steps we can take to deal with an offense healthily and truthfully:
1. Do not make decisions when you have taken up an offense with someone. Such decisions will be made from emotions and will be unwise and not the way God would want you to respond.
2. Put yourself in that person’s shoes. First choose and respond with compassion.
Ask yourself: What difficulties are they experiencing that can be stressful and make them behave out of character? How would I be handling everything they are going through? What am I missing in the circumstances that are causing their emotional response?
“With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience. Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace,”
Ephesians 4:2-3 TPT
3. We all make mistakes. First choose and respond with grace and mercy.
“Love overlooks the mistakes of others, but dwelling on the failures of others devastates friendships.”
Proverbs 17:9 TPT
4. Be quick to forgive the small offense before it grows into a bigger problem or sin.
“No matter how many times in one day your brother sins against you and says, ‘I’m sorry; I am changing; forgive me,’ you need to forgive him each and every time.”
Luke 17:4 TPT
As God is slow to anger and rich in love, let us aim to follow His example. We can accomplish more in love and forgiveness than in anger. Anger pushes people away. Do not give the devil a foothold with an offense, that can develop into something worse.
5. Apply the Golden Rule of the Bible.
Treat others as you would like to be treated. If you need kindness, give kindness. If you need patience, give patience. If you need acknowledgment, give acknowledgment.
6. Look for the humor in your silly, wrong assessment of a situation.
7. Remember who the real enemy is and his strategy is ALWAYS lies or deception.
Aim your anger at the real enemy, Satan, and not the people used as pawns in his schemes. Deal with him using the Word of the Lord and replacing your thoughts and feelings with God’s truth.
“But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Matthew 16:23 ESV
8. Remind yourself of the good qualities of that person and why you love them.
9. Do I have all the information at hand or am I just making assumptions?
It is good to have an honest and open conversation with a person who has offended you once you have calmed down or know more about the situation. Respond with love and the aim of clearing up misinterpretations. Be sure to listen to increase your understanding.
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.”
Matthew 18:15-17 MSG
10. Ask yourself: In reality and looking at the facts, is the situation as bad as it feels?
11. You are in control of your emotions and reactions.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”
2 Timothy 1:7 AMP
We are not in control of what happens to us, but we can control our response to life. God has given us the Holy Spirit, Who gives us self-control. Choose to respond the way Jesus would have. Choose the mature way that will draw people to Him. When you might not have had the best initial response, be humble to admit that you were wrong, apologize, and ask what else can be done to grow the relationship.
12. What can I do to get over this feeling quickly and see the truth of the person and the situation?
It is so easy to feel that the other person should come and apologize. They might be oblivious to the fact that you were offended by something they did. You also might have a part to play for the reason for their actions. Take action and responsibility for yourself to, first of all, discover the truth. Next, do all you can to protect and nurture, peace, love, and unity within relationships. Reaching out with love and forgiveness leads to reconciliation and strengthening of bonds.
“Why do you look at the [insignificant] speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the [egregious] log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye?”
Matthew 7:3-4 AMP
“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18 AMP
I pray that we will be people that do not take offense over the smallest, insignificant, and misunderstood actions from others. Let’s not give the devil a foothold with our perception and emotions of taking offense. Aim to know the truth and be quick to discover it in love and resolve issues with forgiveness and peace. Let’s rather be a people that is not quick to criticize or become offended by something small or inconvenient. Let’s be quick to show mercy and grace to others just as God bestows that on us, freshly, each morning. Choose love and pursue the Fruits of the Spirit. Be the person you would want others to be for you.
Stay resolute my friend.
VERSE IMAGE OF THE WEEK