Have you ever said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing, or simply made choices that others disagreed with? My intentions are never to offend others, but it happens. Sometimes we can offend without even realizing it and other times it is obvious to everyone.
Have careless words or actions from others ever wounded your heart? Maybe it was words spoken by a spouse, friend, sibling, parent, or an authority figure. It seems like those closest to us can leave the deepest wounds in our hearts.
What did you do with that offense? Did you stew over it, hold on to it for safe keeping, give the cold shoulder and avoid that person, or let it go?
Holding on to an offense, only hurts YOU in the end. It will grow and fester like an infected wound. It will cause you to become a bitter, angry person who looks nothing like the person who first faced that offense in the beginning.
I read the short story “Barn Burning,” by William Faulkner, recently and it was eye-opening. It is a perfect example of what happens when we allow offenses to grow and accumulate inside of our hearts. The results can be catastrophic. The father in this story, Abner consistently dragged his family from town to town. His anger and violent actions towards his offenders caused trouble everywhere he went. However, he wasn’t ever prosecuted for his actions because there was never enough evidence. Why would anyone want to put their family through such persecution and scrutiny from the people around them? Their name became dirty and their reputation marred everywhere they went. This is not the idea of the perfect family… that is for sure.
I have learned over the years that offended people, offend people. A habitual offender is someone who continues to offend others over and over again. This is offense full grown in someone’s heart. Obviously somewhere along the way Abner got offended and allowed that offense to hang around and sink roots deep within his heart. He may have been offended with the government, his country, authorities over him in the military, his parents, friends, etc… We don’t know who or what, but somewhere along the way, offense attached itself to his life and he was never the same. Offense left inside unchecked changes people.
We need to guard our hearts from offense. It can grow inside of us just like weeds in a garden. If left untended, things can get out of control inside and out.
We need to check our hearts daily!
Watch for warning signs of a sick or infected heart by offense. Watch words, actions, and thoughts. Be on high alert when you know you are offended or close to offense.
Choose the high road!
When you feel you might be offended, you have a choice. Choose to give the benefit of the doubt or stew and become bitter. Instead of thinking of the worst possible scenario when it comes to others, choose to give grace. Be known as a grace giver! Learn to let some things go, overlook others, and give grace whenever possible. Forgive quickly and easily.
Don’t allow any roots of bitterness, anger, or resentment to grow in your hearts. It’s not worth risking the security of your heart, just forgive. Forgiveness is a process and depending on the offense, it may take time. Do what you can to keep your heart free from any offense.
Where are you when it comes to offense? Is your heart sick? Are you the offender or the offended? Do you need to learn to give grace? Guard your heart from offense… YOU are worth it!
Living to leave a legacy,Julie