Important Steps in Letting Go of Offense
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19)
The last word…We have all been there. Someone says something hurtful or irritating, and we have that comment on the tip of our tongue in response. The kind of comment that is cutting…The kind that would tear someone down…The kind that would make you “mic drop” and walk away. We have seconds to decide how we are going to react and whether we will release those words or hold them back. The flesh cries out, “Go ahead; say it.” The Spirit says, “Don’t say it. You’ll regret it. Respond in love.” The flesh wars against the Spirit. And, in that second, what will you personally decide?
The harder and better choice is most certainly responding in love, but how tough that is when it’s so easy to take offense! It really takes the strength of God to ignore the flesh and to act in a Christ-like manner. In order to handle unforeseen and hurtful comments from others the way Christ instructs us to, it really takes the Spirit of God and the study of His Word firmly planted in our hearts. Therefore, when temptation comes, we are better equipped and can cling to the Truth in order to react biblically.
The following steps are based on 1 Peter 3:9-13 and can greatly help us toward becoming peacemakers by avoiding arguments and conflicts in our treatment of one another in order to overcome offense:
“Never return insult for insult, but on the contrary blessing” (Verse 9).”
When insulted, we are to bless the other person. Imagine saying something complimentary or encouraging after being insulted, instead of retaliating. As hard as it may be, blessing someone can diffuse a situation and stop an argument in its tracks. In fact, the end of this verse says that obedience to God can bring blessing in your own life. So, as you contemplate what decision to make, remind yourself of the rewards of your obedience, but most importantly, remind yourself that Christ commands it.
Refuse to talk about the other person.
Verse 10 states, “For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days keep his tongue from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit).” After someone mistreats us, the most common response is to tell other people about it to get their sympathy and to make the other person look bad. Instead of using our tongues to backbite, gossip, spread lies, or all of the above, let’s use our speech to uplift, build up, and encourage one another. With the help of God, let’s learn to silence our tongues when offended, and, instead, pray about the situation and the person who has wronged us.
Search for peace and turn away from wickedness.
Verse 11 is very clear that we are to make an effort to promote unity amongst one another and to avoid conflict. Unbelievers should be able to recognize a difference in us based on our love for others, not by our slander, not by our idle talk; not by our divisiveness. Matthew 5:9 reiterates this by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for the will inherit the kingdom of God.” Pray for peace. Bless your enemies (Romans 12).
God’s eyes are on those who seek to do right, and His ears are open to their prayer.
This is definitely incentive enough to keep our heart’s obedient to Christ. God takes notice of our actions. His eyes are watching, and His ears are open to our prayers, particularly when we handle things according to His Word.
As we live a life of a peacemaker, our enemies diminish.
“Now who is there to hurt you if you are ‘Zealous followers of that which is good? (Verse 13)'”. Throughout life, we will, at times, encounter opposition. However, if we are always responding in love, instead of bitterness and hatred, the person causing the potential argument, will not have a reason to continue firing off at the mouth if we don’t play into the same game they started. My grandfather was someone who truly was a peacemaker and lived this principle. Out of all my years of knowing him, I did not ever hear him speak unkindly about anyone. This precious man imprinted a legacy for those he left behind.
By taking these verses to heart, let’s encourage each other to respond to offense biblically in order to become peacemakers.
Will there be times you need to confront others?… Most certainly, yes. But, we must make sure to do so with a Christ-like, loving attitude and the Spirit of God leading our words and actions. We must also remember that our response to mistreatment is vital and that retaliation brings regret. Forgiveness brings the opportunity for healing, not only in our relationships with one another but also in our own hearts, as well. If we have hurt someone with our words and caused offense, it is important to ask that person for their forgiveness. Putting on love and humility and realizing that Christ’s opinion is the only one that matters makes all the difference. As we do this, not only do we obey God, but we also show others that we are different from the world. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14)