Christ teaches that offences are a normal part of our daily life in this world, but he also forewarns those through whom offences come. If you are at the receiving end of an offence, Jesus says to you, ‘take heart’ but if you are the offender, he says to you, ‘woe to you’. Apart from this post on offences, I shall deal with its related matters in my next two posts: unforgiveness and bitterness.
An offence is an act of upsetting and hurting feelings. It is causing an annoyance in another because of showing rudeness or lack of respect for another. An offence, in relating to a crime, is breaking or going against law or principle. We can say then that offence is going against certain personal laws or principles people hold dearly. For instance, people may feel offended or violated when you disregard by intruding on their privacy uninvited, betraying their trust by revealing a secret they hold dearly, not returning a favour owed them in their most crucial moments, et cetera.
TYPES OF OFFENCE
Perceived offences are the upsets and hurt feelings we experience when we try to interpret and judge the unseen motives of other people’s actions towards us. The motives or motivations for people’s actions are best known to them. I have learnt by experience that when we give others the opportunity to explain themselves, we’ll become better judges. You may have so much hurt in your heart now because of an interpretation you have assigned to the motive behind an action of a loved one. What if you are not completely right? Don’t you think it’s unfair to the other person for not listening to his side of the matter? Besides, you have imprisoned yourself by this hurt feelings and even the perceived offender does not know.
You can become offended by an usher’s direction, a pastor’s sermon, another person’s dressing, a friend’s chuckle, the whisperings of two people or even this post you are reading. In soliciting for funds to publish my 1st book ‘SEASONAL DYNAMICS’, many years ago, a friend busted out in anger, saying, “I know you used my life circumstances to write your book.” These will happen as long as you keep reading meanings into the motives of the surrounding people.
Real offences are the hurt feelings resulting from the negative physical or emotional actions people carry out towards us. Years ago, I was ironing my clothes in the common hall of my dormitory in the secondary school. In a split moment, after hearing the footsteps of someone walking into the hall, I felt the two palms of the stranger cover both eyes of mine. Of course, this is something best friends or lovers do. After your friend blindfolds you, you should be able to guess who it is. Your right guess showed how connected and sensitive you were to each other.
So, this stranger-friend of mine still had his palms over my eyes, waiting for my right guess. Unfortunately for me, I suffocated as this stranger-friend also has both palms over my eyes and nose. At a point, to save my life, I gathered every ounce of strength within me and gave this stranger-friend a ‘wicked’ push off my back. He fell heavily and upon turning I saw who it was. He was just a friend, but a very close friend. I was sorry, but I was more offended at his attempt to suffocate me. He was also sorry, but I believe he was also more offended at my ‘wicked’ push. That was it! Our relationship became cold and even colder until we completed our senior high school education.
Several years later, after school, our paths crossed again and we are good friends again till today.
ABSALOM WAS OFFENDED
Absalom, King David’s 1st son, who would have become the next king of Israel after his father David, had a sister called Tamar. This Tamar was sexually violated by one of her step-brothers, Amnon. This incident angered Absalom. To make matters worse, King David, their father, slept on the matter. (What could he have done? He was the father of them all and the harm had already been caused). But Absalom’s hurt feelings kept on raging until it developed into hatred for Amnon, his step-brother, leading to his cold blood murder. That initial hurt that wasn’t dealt with led to murder, then to betrayal, open rebellion, incest and finally, self-destruction. 2Samuel 13-20
SIGNS THAT YOU ARE HABOURING AN OFFENCE
The majority of people will deny and even try to cover up their hurt feelings to portray that they are psychologically and emotionally in charge. But the signs are always obvious.
Withdrawal or isolation from others
Change in personality
Display of anger, anxiety, or moodiness
Feeling of worthlessness
Absent-mindedness and periodic deep sighing
Perfect memory and constant recounting of hurts with passion to anyone who would listen
Even though offences are a normal part of our lives, harbouring an offence can be more destructive to you than the real cause of the offence. You must deal with any feeling of hurt in your heart before it deals a deadly blow on your destiny. To err, they say, is human but to forgive, divine. We all require divine enablement to forgive our offenders. Submitting your life to Jesus will equip you to let go past hurt feelings.
Pray this prayer with me
Father, I come to you today just as I am, I have found my greatest challenge today i.e. I have no right standing with you because of the condemnation that passed unto all human beings. Save me as I open my heart and accept Jesus today as my Lord and Saviour. Thank you for saving me and giving a right standing in your presence today. Amen.
As simple as it may seem to you, you are saved or born again by this prayer of faith. You have been restored to your right place before God. Get a bible if you don’t have one yet and start reading it for yourself. May the Holy Spirit also be your guide.
In my subsequent blogging, I shall be taking you a step further in overcoming unforgiveness.