Offenses will come.
It’s not a matter of “if”, but a matter of “when”.
And how we respond to our offenses will ultimately determine how or if we are able to move on from the offense and will also determine how much damage is caused in the process.
The unfortunate fact is this: when one becomes offended, often times the offended will seek out people who will “sympathize” or even “empathize” with them in their offense.
The other person may give ear to the offended’s offense but may direct them to attempt to reach out to the offender to try and patch up the problem.
In many cases, it ends there.
In many other cases, however, the one giving ear picks up the offense of the offended. Not only that, but they may return the favor by pouring out to the offended their own offenses with the same person.
Now, what happens when you have two people (or groups of people) who are offended, who are now feeding off of each other’s offense? They become poison to one another creating an endless cycle of poison shared between them.
They become poison poisoning the poisoned.
I know…it’s a tongue twister…but it’s a great image for how twisted things have become.
Worse yet, much like cancer if not treated, it will grow and infect others with the same poison as they seek to get more and more people to “sympathize” or “empathize’ with their offenses.
And so the cycle continues.
A Facebook friend of mine, when I put out the title of this blog and what I’m chewing on to write about, called it a “cult of perpetual grievance.” And…he’s absolutely right.
Sadly, the unfortunate thing about it all is this…if left untreated, an offense will creep into even the most well-meaning of hearts within the body of Christ and become a stubborn root of evil that will be next to impossible to get rid of.
I’ve been in and around the ministry for 35 years. I was raised in a preacher’s home, my grandfather and uncles and great uncles were and are preachers and evangelists, and I’ve personally served as a minister in several denominations over the course of the last 15 years or so.
I have seen this played out more times than I can probably count. I would share with you some stories that would set your skin on fire just hearing them…but I don’t want to be one who continues the defiling of people and creating and perpetuating an offense.
What do we do when someone with an offense comes to us with their offense and seeking an ear?
I believe there is one simple thing we can do:
DON’T ALLOW ONE WHO IS OFFENDED TO BRING THEIR OFFENSE TO YOU.
I know this sounds harsh and cold.
You may be saying, “But what if they just need a safe place to vent?”
And to that, I would simply say, “A safe place to vent would be a counselor, a pastor, or the person with whom they are offended or all 3, but you are not that safe place (unless you’re one of these 3 people).”
“But…doesn’t the bible say we ought to bear one another’s burdens?”
Yes! Yes, it does! It, however, it does not say to bear one another’s offenses. We must be careful that we aren’t misapplying scripture here. Indeed we ought to bear one another’s burdens, but offenses are an entirely different animal. They are not a burden, but rather an offense is when someone has been wronged or feels they have been wronged, and have allowed that wrong or perceived wrong to twist their attitude and their perception regarding another person. That is not something you should be bearing for another.
Here is what the Bible (a Christians source for all things) has to say about offense:
Matthew 18:15 NLT
If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.
In other words, tell them to take their offense to the one who offended them. That simple. Seriously, there is nothing you can do for them. Giving them a place to stoke the fires of their offense does them absolutely no good except to feed more into their offense. The only person who can help them address their offense is the one who they feel they have been offended by.
If they are unwilling to do that, then this is a problem for them, and one that will come back to bite them. They will sadly reap what they sow by not following the Word of God for how to handle an offense.
If we all followed this simple step, offended people would have nowhere else to go but either into themselves (and be eaten alive by their bitterness) or go to the one they feel has offended them and get it worked out.
And if you’re offended about something…either go to the person who you have been offended by and work it out…or LET IT GO! Move on. Life is entirely too short to allow your offenses to consume you.
Do not become poisoned by another’s poison.
And do not poison others with your own poison.
Either deal with it…or move on. Or tell them to deal with it or move on.
That’s really the only choices you or they have.
Because if you choose to do neither, and you choose to hold on to your offense, or you choose to harbor someone else’s offense for them and feed into their offense with your own offenses, it results in a disgustingly evil cesspool of poison that will destroy you and everyone and anyone around you.