Do you realize that Jesus spoke about offenses because He knew it would be a major obstacle for each one of us, and what we do with an offense will determine the strongholds we allow in our life? Someone experiencing turmoil in their soul will have a trail of crumbs leading to an offense.
Our Attitude, the posture of our heart, is so important when it comes to how we interact with others. Our thoughts, determine how we respond to what comes our way. On any given day we can become offended, it all depends on what’s happening in our soul.
We all have the opportunity to react to people who rub us the wrong way or treat us disrespectfully. If we are not careful, we can develop an offended spirit; everything someone says offends us, we take it personally and allow it to turn over and over again in our minds. This is the playground of our enemy; Satan loves to bring suspicion, fear, and pride into our hearts. A freeing place to live is learning to recognize that you can control your thoughts, and what you will allow to control you. Jesus said, “offenses will come but woe unto those through whom they come.” (Matthew 18:7)
Have you been dealt with contemptuously? Homes with addiction are breeding grounds for contempt. Lying is a given, abuse is common, scapegoats are necessary – they are created to handle the blame and feelings of shame. The large elephant consuming the space, time, and poor relational health is ignored with hopes that it will just leave; but it won’t.
John and Julie Gottman have done extensive work over four decades on divorce prediction and marital stability, they list contempt as one of the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” in determining factors in marriage failure.
Contempt is not easily understood, and it comes forth in various ways. Disrespect, scoffing, sarcasm, an attitude of indifference or accusation, are traits of a contemptuous heart (Matthew 12:34).
Dan Allender’s book The Wounded Heart gives a good understanding of what contempt is in Chapter 3. He points out: “… contempt serves a person entrapped there in four ways: It diminishes our shame, it deadens our longings, it makes us feel in control, and it distorts the real problem. Contempt is complex and often hard to see. It sometimes masquerades as conviction; other times is seems like righteous indignation.”
STEP 1: Forgiveness – An important step in being successful in dealing with offense is to be able to forgive those who have offended you. It is a journey, and the power of God’s Word at work in your heart is crucial (Hebrews 4:12). His Word has the power to reveal what you need to see and it will retrain your brain to think rightly and help you to avoid remaining a victim of the circumstance.
Unless you can arrive in a steady place of forgiveness, letting go of the offense, and building good guardrails you will not be able to proceed to step 2 properly. “Forgiveness gives me boundaries because it unhooks me from the hurtful person, and then I can act responsibly and wisely. If I am not forgiving them, I am still in a destructive relationship with them…” – Dr. Henry Cloud
STEP 2: Truth in Love
People who treat others with contempt should be confronted about what they are doing. Share specifically what it is that you are seeing. In order for someone to work on themselves they need a clear picture of what you perceive the problem to be. This gives them the choice to take corrective action or not.
When someone treats you with contempt it is your responsibility to set boundaries, and be prepared for the possible consequences. When someone has been accustomed to scapegoating or blaming another and you are no longer available for that, this new approach will likely anger them. Your willingness to confront an issue will be very difficult for them to receive.
If you plan to confront someone about their contempt toward you, it is wise to have a support group, accessible pastor or counselor, and prayer team in place for emotional support before doing so. To go through the process of confrontation is very difficult and you can easily become overwhelmed and want to give up because of the anger, accusations and rejection you will suffer.
Along with the ensuing attack from those you confront, you will also face a tremendous battle from Hell. Satan does not want people freed from offense – that is his trap and deceptive way of holding them captive. This is why before confronting sin, you need to examine yourself so as to be free of these things yourself, walking in the Light (I John 1:7) and having your heart cleansed by Christ. Our attempt must be in a Christ-like manner even though we fall short of His precise actions, do not let that keep you from bringing clarity and potential healing into your situation. Be sure to pray also, as God may soften their heart and they could receive your words of truth in love and with grace to change.
STEP 3: Reconciliation May Not Happen
By ridding offense from your heart, you place yourself in a position to relate in a healthy way. Family relationships are for a lifetime and worth the effort but it may take time to see change occur. These are the most difficult because of the history and pain involved, and some will choose not to let it go. Patience, caring and love with boundaries are necessary to endure with stability and strength in God, while each one works out their own heart issues (Philippians 2:12-13).
Is Someone offended at Christ in you?
In John chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17, Jesus has intimate discourse with his beloved disciples (place yourself there as you read). Among other things, Jesus tells His disciples that He is sharing these things so that they will not be offended when someone hates them because of Him.
Jesus went on to tell them they would face persecution and have trouble in this world because they chose to follow Him. Not only did the religious leaders of the day treat believers in Christ with contempt, but the Roman authorities wanted to kill them; their lives were under constant threat. Family members also betrayed them, some because of fear, some because they did not want to obey Christ’s teaching. Some were simply offended with God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:10 that many shall be offended and shall betray one another and shall hate one another.
For you, it may be that your family rejects you because of your walk with Christ. Your obedience and love for God will be tested. It can be difficult to stand for Christ and His testimony of life within you. When our family becomes an idol over God, then God cannot be Supreme (Luke 14:26). Your family may want to control your level of commitment to God and despise you for choosing Him over them. Fear is a big motivator when it comes to our family members. At times, your godly zeal exposes them to their own hearts of indifference toward God. The reasons are not as important as your response to their behavior. Often times people get caught in between an offended person and another party. Someone can react to a concern you express in genuine care, and you may find yourself being falsely accused. Don’t cower with the fear of man and their spin on your situation, stand firm and remember Jesus said this would happen. Receive encouragement by reading these chapters in John; read them over and over for a week or two and see how differently you end up thinking.
When you are experiencing a contemptuous attitude, withdrawing for a season until there is time for reflection, and the Holy Spirit to work, can be helpful. When I think wrongly or say something inappropriate to someone, the Holy Spirit is faithful to convict me and I attempt to make it right with them. Be discerning here as well, because you can over-apologize and diminish the work of the Holy Spirit. If you have spoken truth in love, then stand upon that. Do not waiver due to fear and false guilt but be firmly committed to a godly solution. This is why God’s Word and good counsel is so important for each of us.
What you give your mind to does affect your brain and your actions, or reactions. Do you need faith? Read God’s Word and get yourself into a position of faith and obedience to God. Psalm 119:165 says Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing shall offend them. Let this be your goal as you commend your soul (mind, will and emotions) to God.
A great book on handling offense is, The Bait of Satan, by John Bevere. The book is loaded with biblical principles to help mature us in this area.
Photo Credit: Google Images, Pixabay