Offending and Forgiving

I think it is probably rare for those with the Holy Spirit to deliberately cause offence.
To take offence is a choice.
To forgive is also a choice.


Why do we cause offence?

        • Lack of self-awareness on our part.Failure to remember the principle of swearing to one’s own hurt.
        • Lack of understanding of the needs of the person who has been offended.
        • Desire to have one’s own way regardless.Disregard of the feelings of the other party.
        • Sheer carelessness in word and/or deed.

        Why do we take offence?

        • It is a choice we make.
        • Hurt feelings – we (the ego) feel insulted, slighted, ignored, ill-judged.

It is painful – we all know that. We all offend and take offence.  We all spend hours having those awful conversations in our head going round and round, justifying our position and rehearsing all the things we would like to say to the other party.

        If offended, what should we do

        • Ideally we shouldn’t be offended.
        • Pray about it first, examining oneself honestly before God.
        • If necessary – and the circumstances will dictate according to seriousness –  
        •  approach the person who has offended you with a humble heart and discuss the  matter.
        • Come to an agreement.
        • Move on.

        If we have given offence, what can we do

        • If approached, accept what is being said.  Be approachable!Perhaps ask for time to think about it and pray about it.
        • If that is not necessary and it can be dealt with there and then, accept responsibility for the fact that hurt has been caused.
        • Do not justify self and blame the other person.
        • Put it right.

        Swearing to one’s own hurt:

        • It is a biblical principle that if we say we will do something, we must do it, even if it becomes inconvenient.  However:
        • (A) should approach the other party (B) and explain the genuine change in circumstances.
        • (B) should hear and if possible give (A) a way out.
        • Be careful when making commitments; both parties need to be flexible, finalise details carefully but always be prepared for change.
        • Continuing with the relationship
        • If we can overlook and forgive – even to seventy times seven– we are the stronger for it.
        • If we can overlook the offence and forgive we may be able at some time to effect change in the offender’s life.
        • The relationship may initially change – less contact and intimacy – but still a measure of friendship is maintained, thus allowing for future growth of the relationship and again,bringing about change through our own good example.

         The end of a relationship

        • Ideally, again, this should not happen, and certainly should not happen until the matter has been discussed.  This can be very hard, but honesty with God, with oneself, and with each other is very, very important.
        • When all steps have been followed, sometimes a strategic withdrawal is the only way left – a brother lost is harder to be won than a fortress as it says in Proverbs, and all too sadly that is true.  
        • Trust and respect often cannot be restored without a great deal of hard work and sometimes people are not willing to do that.  In which case, the relationship is lost, but each person should know absolutely in their own heart that  they bear no ill will at all towards the other person.
        • We should know honestly and sincerely before God that we would never take the opportunity to ‘stick the knife in’ and do our brother harm.
        • We should know honestly and sincerely before God that if that brother called on us at any time for help we would immediately do all we could.

        Doctrinal differences

        • Much offence can be caused in this area and it is something we should also look at.
        • Where possible, respect for each other and our differing beliefs should be maintained.
        • Where a person persists in pushing their pet theories even while knowing others disagree, one has the right to withdraw from fellowship with that person – in love and without animosity.
        • The important things in the Christian life is being transformed by Christ living in us, becoming like Him and developing the fruits of the Holy Spirit. 
        • At the resurrection to eternal life, God will commend us for how much we have Christ living in us.  Even where we are doctrinally wrong and have lived our life slightly off-beam, if we are submissive to Him He can change it in an instant and we will accept the correction of our wrong understanding.
        • God CANNOT – and will not – give us the fruits of the Spirit if we have allowed doctrine to separate us from our brethren through feelings of pride, self-righteousness and generally looking down on others.

We are all striving for the same goal.  We cannot afford to front up before God (a) in prayer, (b)  before Passover, or (c) at the resurrection with ill-will towards another member of the Body.  Even if the other parties do not respond, it is imperative that we as individuals are right before God and are prepared to lay down our very lives for even those who may be our enemies. 

To take offence is a choice.
To forgive is a choice.
Choose life!



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