Wars have been a part of the world’s history for centuries. We can speculate that lots of them were due to selfishness over land and money or declarations of freedom. Some wars were birthed out of mere hate. But all in all, I cannot help but wonder if these tragic events were rooted in offense. “Offense” is not just a term used in football; it doesn’t always mean tackling someone at the ten-yard line. In more cases than most, it means “annoyance,” “anger,” and “resentment.”
Today, this evil little minion of offense looks like Facebook disagreements and Twitter fights, but it has also taken to the streets and rendered in violent protests. People are quick to judge others’ comments, beliefs, lifestyles, and so on as provocative insults. Therefore, they automatically assume a stance of attack in response, looking to beat others to the punch and “win” conversations, respect, and credit.
I can imagine a lot of the thoughts that begin this cycle are “he thinks he’s better than I am, but he’s in for it” or “she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, so I’ll show her I’m smarter.” Whatever you fill in the blank with that represents the aforementioned annoyance, anger, and resentment is probably a good example of offense. But a combative attitude in any of these situations only leads to more issues than it solves.
Here are a few reasons offense causes more harm than good (for you and for others).
1. Offense Steals Your Peace
When you find yourself in a place of offense, your mind, heart, and spirit are more than likely unsettled. You may be anxious and antsy, figuring ways to snap back or justify yourself. Philippians 4:6-8 is a well-known verse that can be applied here. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV).
If I’m constantly experiencing offense, which is a source of anxiety, am I truly living from a place of peace in the Lord? Am I guarding my heart and mind well if I’m letting offense rain down on me like fiery arrows from the sky? When you find yourself getting offended, ask the Lord in prayer and petition (with thanksgiving) to help you maintain and even grow your peace.
2. Offense Clouds Your Joy
If we are too focused on the opinions of others to the point that we are miserable, we are no longer thriving in joy. Joy is Jesus, and if we make anything else the focus, we lose both. Offense simply gets under our skin and turns everything sour. It takes our rose-colored glasses and makes them dark, dirty, and unforgiving. Living in offense is too much to bear when I can exchange it for God’s easy yoke and light burden (Matt. 11:30).
Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up bones” (ESV). Are we seriously going to let one moment of offense crush our spirits? I’d rather have the healing medicine of joy! Psalm 16:11 expresses that the fullness of joy is in God’s presence. If we are letting offense bring us to tears, could it be we are stepping outside of His company? If you find yourself wandering away, run back to His arms and allow Him to soothe away the debris that offense has left in its wake.
I encourage you to look up more verses about joy to hide in your heart when you feel the enemy trying to creep in. Here’s a start: Psalm 94:19, Romans 12:12, Romans 5:1-5, and Psalm 4:7.
3. Offense Distorts Your Identity
One of the most common types of offense I watch other people struggle with is an offense that questions their identities. There is so much struggle over self-esteem, so when people feel they are personally being attacked, they often act out of a place of insecurity.
When a blanket statement is made that all females are too needy and dependent, a woman who feels that is untrue for her may wind up her elbow to take a swing at the generality. She stops at nothing to prove how she is actually quite the contrary. This determination turns into an exhausting game of trying to control others’ perceptions and feelings, something no person has the power to do.
Another example could be if someone says that all mathematicians are boring but you yourself are a mathematician who enjoys theme parks, art galleries, and doing the math for video game configurations—things you find extremely fun. You can wave unfortunate ignorance right out the window.
1 John 3:1 tells us “the reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (ESV). Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are the workmanship of God created in His Son Jesus for good works which He already had planned for us. Psalm 139:14 declares that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. Why would we let the world tell us anything otherwise?
Getting to know the Lord is pertinent to withstanding attacks on our identities. When we are confident in who the Father is, we are more confident in who we are. As a result, we are able to let statements that don’t apply to us roll off of our shoulders and under our feet (right where the enemy belongs). If something doesn’t pertain to you, let it go. No one else has the authority to tell us who we are and are not except Abba.
At the end of the day, we must choose what we let offend us and what we let go in one ear and out of the other. Consider the fact that Satan becomes giddy and even more malevolent when we are unkind to one another and when we take too much care in worldly affairs. Offense is one of his greatest weapons, but it doesn’t have to be one of our best friends. Don’t allow it to cause a whirlwind of war and rubble in your heart, mind, and spirit. Rather, turn your cheek and allow the Lord to be the Avenger and the Peacemaker of your life.
“Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends” (Prov. 17:9, ESV).
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32, ESV).
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (Prov. 10:12, ESV).
“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling” (Prov. 20:3).
Leviticus 19:18, Ephesians 4:2-3, Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, Luke 17:3-4, James 1:19, Romans 16:17-18, Galatians 5:26, Colossians 3:13
Featured Image by Leon Biss