“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;Yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matthew 13:20-21).
As a pastor, I have dealt with offended people many times. Husbands offended with their wives and wives offended with their husbands, or kids offended with their parents. One offended with another in the church or a church person offended with one outside of the church. Or, the one who has been offended with me as the pastor. All of these offended people, holding grudges, bickering with each other, and starting rumors are ultimately destroying themselves and one another. All the while Satan laughs as he watches us slowly take ourselves out of the work of God, because our focus has been placed on our offence rather than on the hurting soul that needs our attention. We cannot have our focus on our offence and on the work of God at the same time. It’s impossible! One will outweigh the other. “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart” (Mark 3:24).
Being offended is something we’ve all had to deal with at some point in our lives, and will have to again in the future. When offences come we sometimes lash out to protect or defend ourselves. We open our mouths and make our hurt feelings known to the offender. We feel justified in doing so because the one who has hurt us needs to know about it, or so we think. When we lash out it offers a temporary, yet very satisfying, sense of justice.
Typically, there are three different types of offended people, or three different ways it’s handled. When you read these three you will most likely find yourself in one of them.
First, when you are offended you open your mouth, lash back out in protest, storm off, and let people know about the offence, and the one who offended you (by the way, this is often how rumors are started).
Second is the passive types. You keep your mouth shut and walk away, telling yourself you will never give that person the time of day again. You also feel the need to let your close friends know about the offence and the one who offended you.
The third, believe it or not, is often times the most dangerous type of the offended. You are the one who keeps quite, walks away, and later on still acknowledges the individual. You never say a word to anybody about the offence or the offender, but still hold on to the hurt and anger. This one can be the worst because you are the most likely to feel justified. You feel as if you have done no wrong, therefore, there is no need to repent.
For those of us who lash back out in protest, we need to consider these words of Paul. “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it” (1Pet 3:9 NLT). And to those of us who don’t mind starting rumors about the ones who have hurt us, keep this in mind; “For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies”‘ (1Peter 3:10).
And if those two scriptures are not enough, remember this one. “And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself” (James 3:6).
What about you quite types? Here is a scripture that fits you well. “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars” (Proverbs 18:19).
No matter what type of person you are or how you handle offences, there is one thing you need to always remember. The words that Jesus said to his disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!” (Luke 17:1).
When offences arise, let them die! Don’t let them fester in your heart and become your ruin.
“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good“ (Romans 12:14-21).