Yet, in these past two years, God has chosen, again and again, to put this concept in front of me. Clearly, this is a concept I need to learn. It's not something that comes naturally, in all honesty, to humans, though. We live in a society that encourages and puffs up the idea that we should be offended at EVERYTHING. And if we don't have a current offense to brew over, we should take up our friend's offense. You know, become outraged on THEIR behalf. Our world is quick to offend and slow to forgive.
That is not how I want to be.
That is not what I was called to be.
God's plan for us believers is to live together in unity; sharing each other's burdens as well as joys; learning from one another; being vulnerable and transparent and being willing to be held accountable to each other and with each other; and overlooking offenses.
After having tasted the sweet, healing of forgiveness how can we not extend that very same forgiveness to others? God didn't withhold Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for only those who ALREADY had their act together. No! "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". And praise God for that, right? Yet, we tend to look at each other and demand a certain level of behavior; a 'jump-through-my-hoops' kind of expectation before we are willing to extend forgiveness. Yet, that's not forgiveness.
God wants us to give TRUE forgiveness. The kind that can joyfully, humbly pray for the person who hurt you. The kind that can mourn when the offender mourns and be joyful when they are. The kind that keeps no record of wrongs. THAT kind of forgiveness.
For us humans, overlooking an offense, extending forgiveness... the kind that God speaks of and shows time and again to us... That is so, so foreign to us. It's usually the LAST thing we want to do. It's much easier for us to dip our toes (sometimes our whole body) into the pools of sin by gossiping; harboring resentment and anger; allowing a root of bitterness grow in our heart; wishing ill-will to our offender. And this breaks my heart. Why, oh why do we default to our sinful natures when we have been made new in Him??
Thank God, though, He forgives us, anyway.
Offenses come in all shapes and sizes.. and with all sorts of intents. Some offenses are unintentional and some carry a malicious overtone that can't be ignored. So often, though, I see fellow believers in Christ taking up offense over things that, in the end, really don't matter. They are easily overlooked. She didn't say 'hi' to me today; His tone was down and negative when he should have been friendly; She gave me an instruction I didn't like; He spoke directly and bluntly to me; She took the last book that I had wanted...
Unnecessary, in the end.
God has called us to seek to understand first and be slow to anger. Through Christ's sacrifice, we are called to forgive as He forgave us.... and we are to do it over.. and over... and over... again. 70x7.
Overlooking an offense, I'm convinced, cannot be done in MY own power. It must be through the Holy Spirit working in my life. It is when I obey the commands of scripture and the tugging in my heart, then I let God work through me as well as let Him mold me. He is the potter, I am the clay. I must remember this.
For it is not in my own power that I can overlook an offense and rid my heart of the unfairness of a situation and the hurt; it is only through Him that He can accomplish that through me.
Over the past two years, and specifically the past few weeks, it is when I have let go and let God work, that I am freed from the bondage of being offended. It is then that I can let Him purge my heart of the hurt and frustration of a situation and let Him mold me into the person He wants me to be.
When I submit to Him, I become so free and so joyful, even in the midst of conflict, because only then can He be glorified in my life and through any situation.
I would encourage you.. if you have been offended (I'm not talking physical, sexual or verbal abuse), seek God's help to overlook it. Seek His wisdom. Extend true forgiveness and let God do some amazing work in your life.
Here's a great post about overlooking an offense that I read this week -