The topic of “offenses” is referred to in the Bible and relates to Jesus’ teaching about End Times (Mt 24:10). Paul also discusses the topic in relation to the End Times (2 Tim 3). This is different from leading people into sin (Mt 18:7, Lk 17:1), though it relates on the grander level of the topic.
“Offenses” between Christians is an important topic. It can help to understand some causes and their “flow” or order of the “domino effect”.
Offense, theoretically, should never happen to a mature Christian. If you are offended, that indicates an area you can grow in. Jesus was never “offended”, even when he cleansed the Temple.
Usually, when we are offended, we look at whatever offends us from a perspective of “that person was wrong”, but we don’t categorize their wrong doing properly. To overcome something that offends you, evaluate the nature of the offense right away. Usually, “offensive” things that people do fall into one of three categories: immorality, unfairness, or merely improper procedure in between Christians.
If someone was immoral, they may have wronged you, you need to forgive them. If they treated you unfairly, that also needs forgiveness. If they used bad procedure (such as gossip or a sloppy way of communicating about a topic that easily erupted) there is little you can do other than review your own procedure and clarify the incident for a quick explanation in the event that it comes up, then don’t talk about it. Procedural “offenses” are the only of the three that don’t need “forgiveness” in the typical sense.
If the offense was not against you, but what someone did to someone else, then the situation doesn’t involve you and you have no basis to be “offended”. That whole “he offended my friend/family” concept is classic “la cosa nostra” thinking and has no place in a Christian’s life. If someone hurt someone you know and now you have problems to deal with because of it, then you were directly hurt as well. So, that “he offended my friend/family” idea doesn’t relate to your situation. In either case, there is still no excuse to be “offended”.
Of course, telling someone offended at you that they need to forgive carries a conflict of interest on your part. But, if someone is using an “offense” to harass or attack or actively create difficulties for you, you can always tell them to back off. In fact, you can tell such a person to back off whether their excuse is “offense” or anything else and you don’t need to feel “offended” to do so.
Not forgiving AKA “being offended” weakens you. You can’t overcome the enemy. You can’t bring people to the kingdom. You can’t help the “offender” see the truth. You are in all ways crippled as long as you remain “offended”.
- Isolate the type: immorality, unfairness, procedure.
- Forgive where necessary, redact and move on with procedure.
- Don’t involve yourself in “offenses” that don’t involve you and only you. Help others, but stay out where you don’t have direct standing.
- Get out of that “offended” state of heart and mind ASAP, there is never any need for it, don’t mislabel or excuse it, know that it weakens you.
- Never tell another person not to be offended if they are “offended” at you. That’s not your place.
- If someone is pursuing you and creating trouble, you can tell them to back off whether you or they are “offended” or not. Just make sure you don’t become the pursuer in that.
- When counseling someone who is “offended”, focus on understanding the offense, don’t jump to the forgiveness part, though remind the person in theory that it eventually has to be let go of. Still, letting go of offense is usually about understanding what we are offended at, so focus there.
It’s hard to let go of anything we don’t understand first. If you have trouble letting go of an “offense”, it could be that you have mislabeled it. So, properly label the “offense” so you can properly let it go.