Something our culture today is really great at is – offense. It is almost mind-blowing just how easily offended people are today. And it is sad. Because when we are so easily offended, we also have a lack of unity, relationship, emotional connection, harmony, and teamwork. We also miss out on most of the fun, joy, and blessings in life.
THE TRUTH IS
- Criticizing other people is super easy.
- Looking at myself and my own faults and taking responsibility for changing myself is HARD.
It is human nature to go around blaming others and pointing our fingers at other people in disgust while we believe we are wonderful, good, and virtuous. It takes incredible spiritual maturity to be willing to honestly look at ourselves and our issues. But God calls us to take responsibility for our own lives first. He calls us to remove the “beam” from our own eye so that we can see clearly enough to remove the “speck” from someone else’s eye (Matt. 7:1-5).
How can I tell if I have a “spirit of offense”?
- Am I more concerned about being “right” about everything than anything/anyone else?
- Do I tend to focus on other people’s faults?
- Do I feel it is my job to correct people’s mistakes in many areas of life?
- Do my words tend to be laced with negativity and criticism about situations and people?
- Do I “vent” often to others about things other people did to upset me?
- Do I tend to have a short fuse and/or raise my voice easily?
- Do I believe that it is unacceptable for people to disagree with me?
- Do I feel it is my duty and responsibility to make people change their minds to match my opinions, my convictions, and my beliefs – by verbal force – if necessary?
- Do I verbally attack, insult, or try to humiliate people who think or act differently than I want them to?
- Do I think I truly know best and everyone else would be a lot better off if only they listened to my great wisdom?
- Do I have a hard time forgiving even the smallest slights from others?
- Do I tend to hold onto grudges, resentment, and bitterness?
- Do I tend to have very rigid expectations and be unable to bend or be flexible in relationships?
- Do I tend to be a perfectionist and get upset if things are not exactly the way I think they should be?
- Do I go on an all-out verbal assault on anyone who dares to question or criticize me – assassinating the person’s character and acting like a prosecuting attorney in a criminal trial?
- Do I have difficulty finding sin in my own life and tend to assume I am a “very good person” with few sins in my own life and have no trouble at all finding a lot of sin and wrongdoing in other people’s lives?
- Do I tend to assume the worst possible motives of others?
- Do I have to have the last word in an argument?
- Do I think of myself as morally superior to other people?
- Do I tend to burn a lot of bridges in my relationships and cut people out of my life even if they apologize and try to change?
- Am I much more concerned with voicing my opinion and telling people my thoughts than understanding what other people think or understanding their perspectives?
- Do I tend to find negative things to say about the pastor’s sermon, my boss, my parents, my in-laws, the way my husband helped me with the kids, the way my son took out the trash, etc…?
- Do I always feel it is my responsibility to confront people on anything they say about which I don’t agree, no matter how small the issue may be?
- Do I feel everyone around me owes me an answer for their thoughts, words, decisions, and deeds? Like it is my right to question them?
- Do I give the “cold shoulder” treatment to people often?
- Am I quick to share (gossip) all about the terrible things other people have done to me – to my husband, my family, my coworkers, and others?
- Do I tend to verbally abuse other people who don’t agree with me, insulting them and cutting them down?
- Do I let my emotions have free reign and let my anger have its way when someone ticks me off and not restrain my words if I feel even slightly offended?
- Do I genuinely wish harm on people who don’t do what I want or who disagree with me?
- Do I freak out if people even talk about their religious or political beliefs if they don’t match mine? Like I really don’t think anyone else should get to have free will but me?
If I answer, “yes,” to several, or maybe (*gulp*), ALL of these questions – it’s time to consider that I may have a significant issue with a spirit of offense.
I, personally, had this sin festering uncontrollably in my life for many years. It truly was a painful way for me to live, and it was painful for those around me, too. The fruit of my life was: bitterness, resentment, worry, fear, control, anxiety, depression, frustration, loneliness, lack of emotional intimacy with others, and broken relationships.
Greg actually said to me one time, many years ago, “You LIKE to be miserable. You want to be miserable. You don’t want to be happy.”
I started to argue with him, of course.
But then, I actually stopped and thought about it. I realized that I was pretty negative and I was rather miserable. I don’t think I actually enjoyed misery. But that sure is where I camped out for many years. I didn’t know how to fix it. But maybe, for once back then, I had to acknowledge that Greg was actually right!
(Now I know he has quite a lot of wisdom to share, if I am willing to listen and receive humbly. He can sometimes see my blindspots and help point me toward a better life.)
God’s Word says pride is one of the most deadly sins.
The root of a spirit of offense is – PRIDE. Big time pride.
Pride was the sin of Satan. He wanted to exalt himself to be equal with God and wanted others to worship and follow him instead of God. His temptation to Eve was that if she ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she would “be like God.”
Satan appeals to our pride still, today. His tactics haven’t changed a lick. Satan loves for us to take offense and to think highly of ourselves. He loves to help create division, tension, offense, hatred, bitterness, contention, arguments, jealousy, and resentment. When we participate in these things, we give him authority in our lives to destroy us and to use our lives to help destroy others.
What does God say about pride?
- There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Prov. 6:16-19
- The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. Prov. 8:13
- Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Prov. 16:18
- One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. Prov. 29:23
- “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 1 Cor. 8:1
The Cure for Pride is Humility.
I must continually humble myself before God and acknowledge that HE is God. I am not. I stop exalting myself above God in my heart and mind. I turn from my pride and embrace that God alone is good and righteous. I am not. I need Jesus and His blood. I have no goodness on my own apart from what Jesus did for me on the cross.
I get off of the throne of my life. I stop demanding that other people look up to me and exalt me. I stop demanding to be exalted by others.
I set God, alone, firmly on the throne of my life. I acknowledge that He, alone, has all wisdom and it is infinitely higher than any human wisdom, including mine. I stop being an enemy of God and I bow my heart and knee to His Lordship in every area of my life.
- “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
- Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 1 Pet. 5:6
I love the quotes from Andrew Murray in his book, “Humility“:
- Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.
- Here is the path to the higher life: down, lower down! Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds men abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.”
- Humility is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God.
The Bible Has Great Wisdom for Us about How to Deal with Offense:
- Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Prov. 19:11
- For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matt. 6:14-15
- Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rom. 12:19
- Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Eph. 4:26-27
- Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21
- For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:16
- Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Gal. 6:1-3
- And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24-26
Ultimately, every sin is against God. He will deal with it. He will bring about justice and vengeance for any sin that has not been covered by the blood of Jesus. I can entrust myself to the Lord. I don’t have to make people do things. I don’t have to freak out when people don’t understand me or don’t agree with me. I don’t have to try to control them and change them myself.
This doesn’t mean truth is relative. God’s truth is absolute, according to the Bible. But I don’t have to try force truth – or my opinions – on people. I can share with them if they are open to it and trust God to work in their hearts. I can pray for Him to illuminate their eyes.
I can rest in God’s love and goodness. I can rest in His sovereignty and Lordship. And I can invite Him to work powerfully to change and heal me and to transform others and heal them, too.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever have to address sin or wrong doing in other people’s lives. I absolutely may need to, at times. I may also need to set very clear boundaries, or even remove myself from certain toxic relationships if people refuse to repent and change if they are severely sinning against me. But I can approach other people’s sin God’s way and from a posture of humility, love, honor, and respect – rather than with a judgmental, critical, hateful spirit.
And I must be very much on guard against a spirit of offense in my heart every day and repent if I notice it is starting to creep in.
Prayer of Repentance
Expose the depths of sin in our hearts. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom.3:23). Maybe no one has ever confronted us in Your love about our sin. Don’t let us continue to be blind to the great extent of our sin and the massive debt which we owe to You. We all struggle with pride. We all struggle with offense and wanting to be “right.” We are so small – just creatures made of dust. And You are the One true God, King, and Creator of the universe. How dare we exalt ourselves to be equal to You or above You in our hearts and minds?
Our pride offends You. It destroys us. It destroys others around us. It kills our relationships. It creates division and severe damage in our marriages and families. It is an instrument of the enemy. We don’t want to live in pride and a spirit of offense any more! We humble ourselves on our faces before You. We need Your help! We can’t fix ourselves or clean ourselves up. We are a mess without You.
Cleanse us from all of our sin by the powerful blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for us on the cross. We bow humbly before You, acknowledging that You, alone, are worthy to be called, Lord. We are not. We are creatures who are dependent on Your mercy and grace. We have no holiness of our own. Our greatest attempts at righteousness look like bloody, nasty, menstrual rags in Your sight (Isa. 64:6).
Robe us with the holiness and righteousness of Jesus. Transform us and conform us to the image of Christ because that is Your will for us and it is very good (Rom. 8:29) . Purify us and make us clean and radiant in Your sight now and forever!
Help us to grow in humility. Help us to exalt and honor You, alone. Help us to have proper reverence for You in our hearts. Help us to close the door to the enemy and to our flesh and sinful nature. We want to live in the power of Your Spirit from now on and in the power of Jesus’ victory over sin and the grave.
Fill us with love and faith in You. Fill us with Your supernatural love, grace, and mercy for our fellow travelers on this journey. Grant Your beautiful Spirit of unity to our marriages, families, churches, and our nation.
How has God spoken to you on this issue? Do you have any wisdom to share with us?
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Check out these verses sometime this week. Each topic could make a wonderful study for your devotional time each day.
Humility by Andrew Murray ($0.99 on Kindle)