The Antidote To Being Offended
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Colossians 3:12
Are you often falsely accused or misrepresented and mistreated based on false witnesses? Have you been persecuted for doing what is right before God, but goes against the grain of man’s selfish greed. Have you been taken for granted and extended no appreciation for your work? Have those you trusted and believed to be your friends betrayed you or failed to come to your defense when you were falsely accused?
If you’ve experienced any of these things then you have shared in the suffering of Christ. He endured all these things throughout the course of His ministry. How did He deal with them? How did He maintain His focus and continue to do His work facing such relentless opposition?
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:1-3
Jesus was able to endure the contradictions of sinful men against Him because there was a joy set before Him. That joy was motivated by His love for all. Love made Him more desirous of setting men free from sin than caring about what He had to suffer to do it.
He taught His disciples that love was the only response to offense.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45
Love is great and it’s easy when the object of love is worthy and brings joy to the giver and the recipient, but it is not easy when it must be extended to the persecutor, the offender and the enemy. It’s hard to love someone who is ill-treating you or threatening your life. But that is precisely the weapon we have been given to counter the works of the enemy.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 1 Corinthians 13:4
‘Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8
Love never fails because love brings the light of God to bear on the darkness of this world. Love is a force of God that disarms the works of the evil one. Evil feeds on evil, but it has no defense against love. Love disrupts, disarms, confuses and confounds evil and renders it powerless because of the power of God in it. Moreover, love keeps the heart of the one offended or persecuted pure before God. We may suffer but when we do and choose to walk in love anyway we please God and we glorify Him as His ambassadors here on the earth.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
We don’t love our enemies because we feel like it. We love them and seek only their good and their welfare because God’s love [in the person of Jesus Christ] was first sent to us while we were yet sinners and because now the Holy Spirit is working love in us by His power to let that love flow in abundance from our hearts to the good person and the evil one.
When we are ill-treated our response might initially be to feel hurt, disappointment, wounded or even angry, but love rises up in us to forgive and to be at peace despite the motivation and actions of those who offended us. Love is the antidote to offense. It’s God’s way. If we love God it will also be our way, because the Holy Spirit working in us will make it so.