Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
Lately I have pondered this verse concerning my own life. At some point in our lives, someone is going to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, …offend us. The person who does it will be in the wrong. They will have said something that is totally inappropriate. Maybe they will actually do something to us that deeply hurts us. They shouldn’t have done it or said it, but they did and we are offended. I have hurt people in my life. Sometimes I knew what I was saying might hurt them and sometimes I didn’t. I have said and done things out of anger only to have to go back and apologize. Even as a pastor’s wife! I hate when I do something that causes pain to someone else. In the moment, it might feel right and feel good to say or do it, but in the end the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart and convicts me of my wrong and the need to make it right.
I have also been the one offended. There are things from my past that were done to me and they were wrong. The person who said or did something was the one at fault. There are things that were done on purpose to satisfy someone else’s lust that hurt me deeply. People who tried to encourage during difficult times said the wrong thing and I was offended. The question I pose to you, the reader, is this, “Is it right to stay offended?” Even if I have a “right” to be offended, do I have a “right” to stay offended?
The verse above says that “a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city”. I think we all get the gist of what that means!!! It would be easier to take down Washington DC, than to win back a brother we have offended. It goes on to say that this brother’s grievances are like the “bars of a castle”. Those are some strong grievances! It got me thinking about the Brother Offended though. If he stays in his state of hurt and unforgiveness, he is the person stuck behind those unbending bars. The same bars that keep people out and separate him from all those around him. If a brother or sister doesn’t learn to let go of offences, it becomes easier and easier for them to be offended. Pretty soon it seems as though everyone around this brother has hurt him. Sometimes it is only the Brother Offended’s perception. However, many times his perception is accurate. Everyone around him will offend him at one time or another. Everyone is human, it doesn’t make them right, just human. Most people don’t mean to offend, but this brother is in a prison of offence and he’s keeping his ledger and his list up to date. He will make sure he notes every time someone hurts him or disappoints him with their words or their actions. The Brother Offended is living behind bars.
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.
During Randy’s cancer treatment, Christa had to have foot surgery, my father had a massive coronary, a fall caused me to sprain my ankle, and as a result of the fall I had to have a tumor removed my heel. One day at church a very sweet lady said to me, “It’s always something with you isn’t it?” I know she meant to be conciliatory, but that is not the way it came off. I was offended! I realized recently that I still was. When her name was mentioned, I would think, “She’s not so spiritual!!!” When I thought about this woman I could only see her through my little filter of offence. I was not “forbearing” or “forgiving”, and certainly not like Christ who forgave me of much more than a few words spoken in haste!!!!
How about you? Have you let the “sun go down upon your wrath”? Are you harboring an offence? Do the prison bars of the castle keep you from seeing the good that people have to offer? Even the good in people that have hurt you? The Lord commands us to forbear and forgive. He will never command us to do something that we cannot do. I relinquish my hold towards the woman at church. I am asking you, friend, to do the same. How can we possibly hope to show those around us the LOVE that God has for them if WE, a fallible human being, won’t forgive those other fallible human beings in our own lives? Do it for yourself. Do it for them. Do it for the LORD!!