Colossians 3:13 – “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.”
Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Offenses are a reality of life. James stated the obvious when he wrote, “In many things we offend all” (James 3:2). Jesus Christ said as much in Matthew 18:7, “For it must needs be that offences come.” No one is beyond being offended by someone, and none of us is beyond offending someone else!
Types of Offenses
1) Innocent – By this I mean unintentional. Someone has given offense and/or been offended, but the offense was given unintentionally.
2) Imaginary – Some people, quite frankly, just dream up an offense. If you looking for one, you will usually be able to find one, even when it does not really exist!
3) Indirect – This is a “third-party” offense. You have not been personally offended, but you have taken up the offense of your friend.
4) Intended – Some offenses are intentional. Someone purposefully says or does something to offend.
Regardless of how you are offended, the fact is clear that you will be offended. You will be wronged, wounded, and hurt by the actions, attitudes, and/or words of others (and others will be offended by you also). It is inevitable.
How then should a believer respond toward the inevitable? You could try the nurse and rehearse tactic. This is when you hold tight to the offense and will not let it loose. You regularly replay the offensive action or words again and again in your mind. Simply put, this is holding a grudge.
God forbids this tactic. For the believer, holding grudges is not allowed.
- James 5:9 – “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.”
- Leviticus 19:18 – “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.”
You may think, as many people do, that the defense against an offense is to be offensive yourself! So, if you get hurt you hurl. As the old saying goes, “I don’t get mad. I get even.” That is not a Biblical viewpoint. In fact, it is a sinful attitude.
- Romans 12:17, 19 – “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men…Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – “See that none render evil for evil unto any [man]; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all [men].”
- 1 Peter 3:9 – “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”
The believer must respond to offenses in the following two ways.
- Colossians 3:13a – “Forbearing one another”
The word simply means “to bear with.” Let’s face it; some people just do not change. For those who will not change their offensive ways, a believer must learn to put up with him/her in love and peace. Such patience is possible only because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Forbearance requires that you put away childish things and behave supernaturally.
- 1 Corinthians 13:11 – “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
The believers must respond to offenses with forbearance and with forgiveness.
- Colossians 3:13b – “forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye.”
- Ephesians 4:32 – “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Have you been forgiven? If you are saved then God has, in and through Christ, forgiven you. The same forgiveness that you have experienced must be extended to those who have offended you.
For 2,454 days – from March 16, 1985 until December 4, 1991 – Associated Press Bureau Chief terry Anderson was held captive in West Beirut, Lebanon by Islamic fundamentalists. This husband and father was starved, beaten, taunted, humiliated, threatened with death, falsely promised release, and had nearly seven years of his life stolen from him. In an interview with reporters, following his release, Mr. Anderson was asked, “Can you forgive your captors?”
He replied, “As a Christian, I have no choice.”
Terry Anderson was right. Christ requires Christians to forgive.
Forgiveness is a common theme in God’s Word. There are 75 verses in the Bible on the subject, and one entire book of the New Testament (Philemon) has forgiveness as its theme. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
- Matthew 6:14-15 – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
A right relationship with God requires us to forgive others. Jesus indicated that we simply must keep on forgiving! Not just seven times, but seventy times seven, in a single day
- Matthew 18:22 – “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
- Luke 17:4 – “And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”
If you refuse to forgive you open up your life to bitterness and torment through which Satan can gain an advantage over you.
- Hebrews 12:15 – “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled” (cf. Ephesians 4:31).
- Matthew 18:21-35 – “And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” (v. 34)
- 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 – “To whom ye forgive any thing, I [forgive] also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave [it], for your sakes [forgave I it] in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
For Debbie Morris, forgiveness is more than just a Biblical concept. It is deeply personal. In 1980, at age 16, she was brutally abducted and repeatedly raped by two men. This woman has some deep personal insights into forgiveness which she shared in her book Forgiving the Dead Man Walking. Morris explained that forgiveness is more for the victim than the wrongdoer. In other words, the victim needs to forgive more than the wrongdoer needs forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not telling the wrongdoer that the past is no longer significant; not agreeing to become best buddies with the wrongdoer; not denying that there is still pain and anger with which the wronged must live. Forgiveness means that you will, consciously, no longer regard the wrongdoer as indebted to you; that you are more interested in moving ahead in your life than being controlled by the past; that you will let go any illusions that you can somehow control the wrongdoer’s life.
Using an acrostic for PEACE, Morris suggests five steps in the process of extending forgiveness to those who have deeply wronged and hurt you.
P – Pray for the person. As Luke 6:28 says, “Pray for them which despitefully use you.”
E – Empathize. View your enemy from a different perspective.
A – Act. Do specific good deeds to and for that person (those people). Jesus said in Matthew 5:44a, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.”
C – Confess. Be honest enough with yourself to admit any and all responsibility that you may share in the evil.
E – Emulate Christ. What did Jesus do? He forgave! As they were driving nails into His hands and feet He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
So must you! Man is never more like God than when he forgives.
Proverbs 19:11 – “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and [it is] his glory to pass over a transgression.”