Monday, August 28, 2017

How to Properly Deal with Offense

Photo:  John Hain 

  • An act of stumbling
  • A cause or occasion of sin
  • Something that outrages the moral or physical senses
  • The act of displeasing or affronting
  • The state of being insulted or morally outraged

An issue that has always plagued the body of Christ is "offense".   As human beings, we will become offended from time to time.  God has created all of us with unique personalities, proclivities, and different outlooks on life.  However, our individuality can cause us to sometimes bump heads.   

Being offended in itself is not necessarily a “sin” but an emotion that we have in response to being hurt. However, being offended can lead us into sins such as unforgiveness, gossiping, and back biting. 

Offenses and our health
Did you know that offense can have a negative impact on one’s health?   Dr. Caroline Leaf states that 75 to 98% of illness start in the mind (2011).  This means that the main reason for sickness is not the environment or some type of genetic flaw.  The reason we are most likely sick (and remain sick) is because of negative thinking.    

According to Leaf, it is a negative thought life that manifests into physical ailments (2011).  Constantly dwelling on negative thoughts not only causes changes in our brains but also changes the chemistry of our bodies (Leaf, 2011).  These changes will even turn genes on and off in response to our emotions (Leaf, 2011).  

For example, locked within every cell is a code that controls its growth. However, you are constantly dwelling on negative thoughts, which turns into negative emotions.  This can lead to that cell no longer getting the instruction to control its growth.  Do you know what can happen when cells grow out of control?  Cancer. 

The Word of God states that “A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy the rottenness of the bones” Proverbs 14:30.  So science is proving what the Word of God stated thousands of years ago.  This scripture is not just a book of “sayings” but it is truth!  This scripture is telling you that your thoughts and emotions can kill you.  The New Living Translation version of that same verse states “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body, jealousy is like cancer in the bones”.  How profound, if you want a healthy body you need to have a healthy mind. 

Offenses and our Spiritual Life
Not only does being offended affect us physically, but also spiritually.   Offense can easily turn into unforgiveness, a sin which God does not tolerate.  His Word states that “if we do not forgive others, He will not forgive us” Matthew 6:14-15. However, if we forgive those who have wronged us, He will forgive our wrongs. (Matthew 6:14-15)

We are even exhorted to forgive a person even if they wrong us seven times a day.  If they come to us asking for forgiveness, even for repeat offenses, we must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4).  Then we will get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, and all forms of malice (Ephesians 4:31). 

Proper response to offenses
 “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is His glory to overlook an offense”.  Proverbs 19:11

Here we are instructed by God to guard ourselves from offense by not becoming easily angered.  Anger when out of control can cloud one’s thinking.  You cannot execute good judgment when you are easily angered.  Have you ever heard of people just “snapping” out of rage and unintentionally hurting or killing a loved one?  That is what happens when anger consumes you. 

So, if you do become offended with a friend or family member, recognize it and communicate your concern to that person.  Sometimes we have simple miscommunications that can be cleared up if we just verbalized them. 

Let’s say that you are in a situation where you cannot be vocal about the offense.  It occurred with a stranger you have encountered during the day.  In this case you can talk to God about it, forgive that person and move on.  Do not dwell on it.  

Sometimes we may come across people who are having a bad day, or are just plain rude.  However, do not dwell on the behavior, it is best to ignore it.  “Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.”  Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

Citation:  Leaf, C. (2011)  “You are What you Think:  75 to 98% of Mental and Physical Illnesses Come from our Thought Life”   

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