Some of the most creative and humorous commercials have been introduced during the NFL’s World Championship game, but there’s nothing funny about a Christian having an “inattentive nostril to his own inner cesspool.” (Adapted quote from C.S. Lewis.) Perhaps our problem isn’t “anosmia” (the inability to smell), but an unwillingness to acknowledge that we have “bleep” and it do stink. And nothing exposes it like a good offense.
I’m going BIG in 2018 and I’ve asked the Lord to reveal to me the origin of my offenses. Instead of being a victim of circumstances, criticism, disrespect, ingratitude, correction, not being consulted, not being invited, and the lady that just stopped her car in front of me on a wide-open, four-lane road for no reason, I am asking Father to help me own what’s coming up and out of me. Blaming others renders me powerless and I’m tired of being an emotional weakling.
Ultimately, only pride can be offended, and blaming is pride’s diversion. (Just ask Adam & Eve.) Pride is the flesh proving or improving an identity message received from the world. Pride must be broken in order to bring spiritual revelation, so we need to be offended to find freedom from the lies. With an offense, we must go back to the place we chose pride over faith, so I might start with a few questions to self:
What was the offense? Who was the offender?
How does this offense make me feel? (slighted, overlooked, hurt, rejected, insignificant, insecurity, worthless, etc.)
Where is this feeling coming from?! (Consider the source.)
When did it start? How old was I? What person or event first evoked this feeling in me? What is my earliest memory of feeling this way?
What message did I receive about myself from that person or event?
What message do I say to myself (over and over) after the message was received? Who is the ultimate source of this message intended to cause such distruction?
To whom have I or will I look to fix it?
My assumption is that if we clean up our own stench, we’ll be able to sniff out trouble before we step in it. I’ve watched a lot of offended people become offenders in a snap! Jesus seems to agree: “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42). He doesn’t want us to be a Pharisees—the blind leading the blind; demanding certain behaviors from others while not seeing that the demand itself sets us up as gods to be obeyed (Dare I say even worshipped?); justified to punish those who don’t.
It is the nature of the flesh to compete and compare, so honest acknowledgement of our own obvious but unconscious soul-stink is often traded for managing another’s. (What a waste of energy!) We notice in others the very things we cannot or will not control in ourselves, so we rise up to meet their perceived challenge. We beat them to the punch. We’re offended and we quickly react! We are intrinsically motivated to get to the dessert line before all the greedy people do. (And what does this say about us?)
Our undesirable weaknesses get protected or projected, but seldom reflected upon. So we need to be offended so we can discover the root of it—whatever we identify as true of us, but isn’t the truth. It’s the residue of “the old man”; resident lies we have allowed to live rent-free in the flesh. If you have been crucified with Christ, then nothing of the old you defines you. There’s nothing about your past that can be dragged before you to offend you, for that is no longer who you are. You’re only affected by the words you still believe are you.
Maybe being offended is God’s scalpel to open us up to deeper inner healing. The humble man doesn’t think less of himself; he thinks rightly about himself. “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). Romans 12 gives us the counter for offenses. The whole chapter clearly exhorts us to have this attitude toward others and not take offense: v.5 We’re all one. v.6 We all have different gifts and functions. v.9 Hate evil. Love good. Don’t mix it up. v.10 Be devoted in love; generous in honor. v.11 Serving passionately v.12 Stay happy in hope. v.13 Get your hands dirty helping. v.14 Blessing tears down walls; cursing builds them. v.15 Validate feelings (don’t judge them) v.16 Be intentional about equality. v.17 Don’t volley evil…(tit-for-tat) v.18 Maintain your own peace… v.19 And let God handle it. V.20 What you do isn’t dictated but what they do.
Don’t resist an offense. If you placed both of your hands against the chest of someone who offends you (as though you were wanting to push them away), you give them the opportunity to grab your hands and hold you close. If you punch the Tar Baby, you’re gonna get stuck. So resistance to an offense can be as enslaving as embracing it. Either way, you’re dancing with the devil. You give the enemy a foothold. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, so resist the lie, not the person. Perhaps what someone says about you doesn’t rightly define you, but it does mostly likely reveal what you believe about yourself. So maybe God is in the offense to reveal what He wants to heal in you.
The offense reveals what I want. If I am feeling offended (or even attacked) by someone, it is because I want something from my perceived attacker or feel she has something I need; I feel I must have it, and I am trying to get it by my own means (i.e., her approval, support for my agenda, to maintain my reputation, etc.—all rooted in pride). When I see it slipping away, I lose it, become self-consumed, controlling, etc., and all manner of the flesh is exposed. Now I must chose to save my life and lose it or lose my life (in exchange for Christ’s) and save it. (Exchange what may be true for the Truth.) This is the revelation God has in the offense, so join me in this brave journey to discover the origin of an offense.