You were made for this: Freedom From Offense
God has given you a life vision and a purpose. But you can’t fulfill that vision until you clearly see it. In this series, we look at the transforming power of vision by describing the consequences of an unclear vision and revealing the antidote to fear in pursuing the future God has planned for you.
Something To Talk About:
The world is an imperfect place, and we’re all imperfect people. At some point in your life, you’re going to be offended. But offense doesn’t need to become bitterness in your heart. In this message, we have a biblical model for taking offense and offering forgiveness without living in bitterness and resentment. You do this by:
- Ask God to reveal the hurts in your heart: You ask God to reveal the hurts in your heart. We’re good at hiding our hurts, even from ourselves sometimes, but God knows the hurts that are in our hearts, and you can ask him to reveal to you where you’re hurting. Psalm 139:1 says this: “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.” Truth is until you can see where you’re hurting, you can’t see where you need healing. So, you ask God, “God, is there something I’m holding on to that I haven’t forgiven? Is there a bitterness in my heart that I need to deal with?” Sometimes when you’re holding onto an offense, it’s like the heat is on high and you’re boiling over all the time, but other times the heat’s on low. It’s a slow burn, and you’re slowly simmering. It’s something that you need to deal with.
- Ask God to forgive you for the ways you have offended others: Psalm 139:23-24 is a prayer that you can pray.”Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” This is simply admitting that we have hurt others, even as we deal with the fact that others have hurt us. We are sinful, imperfect human beings. Of course, we’re going to offend others, because we are selfish because we’re not always kind. You always release it to God: You release it into God’s hands. You offer that gift of grace instead of trying to hold onto it yourself. That’s something you always do Proverbs 19:11 (NIV). “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” You’re putting it in God’s hands. You’re trusting God to speak to them about it, and the Bible says it’s the one’s glory to show that kind of grace towards others. You always refuse to take revenge: If you let those thoughts or plots of revenge continue, they threaten to overwhelm you. They threaten to push out the good things and good relationships in your life with these thoughts. The Bible’s very clear about this. Romans 12:19 says, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.” You recognize that God’s the judge, and you’re not. Revenge sets up a cycle of unforgiveness and pain. You hurt me. I take revenge, and I hurt you. So, you take revenge and you hurt me and it’s never-ending. Remember James 1:20: “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” When you start with anger, the best you can get is your purpose. But when you start from a foundation of forgiveness, you’re trusting God to achieve His purposes through you.
- Remember that God’s plan for you is greater than their offense: When the offense happens, it can feel like it’s going to control your life. Control how people are going to think about you, control what’s in the future for you, but that is not true. God is greater than the offense, and He can take even the suffering that you go through and use it to His greater good and greater glory. The cross is where Jesus died for our forgiveness, and without the cross, we cannot be forgiven, and we do not have the power to forgive. We are desperately in need of God’s forgiveness, and just as desperately in need of the power of the cross to forgive others. So, here’s the simple truth of the power of the cross. First, the power for your forgiveness is at the cross. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds, you are healed.” We can’t do anything to get ourselves forgiven. If we could do it ourselves, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die on the cross for us. So, you trust Him to forgive you.
- Would you say that you are easy or difficult to offend? Why?
- What keeps you from not being offended? According to Romans 14:19 above, how can we grow in freedom from offense?
- When you do get offended, how do you typically respond? Do you tend to express your frustration or hold it in? How does holding an offense impact our relationships?
- Give an example of a time when the way you handled being offended actually came back to hurt you.
- Holding on to hurts can lead to unhealthy bitterness in our hearts. Read Psalm 139:1. How can an awareness that God already knows everything about us make it easier to bring our hurts to God for healing and freedom from offense?
- Give your thoughts of how God’s purpose and plan will be bigger than the offenses of others.
- It’s through the power of Christ’s death on the cross that you are forgiven of your sins. But God also gives us the power to forgive others at the cross. How can Christ’s death on the cross empower you to find freedom from holding others’ offenses against them?
- Have you ever prayed or forgiven someone who was speaking poorly of you? How did it feel? What happened inside of you when you did this?
- Have you ever prayed for those who hurt you? Are there people in your life right now who are seeking to harm you, for whom you need to pray?
- How did this message challenge, change, or affirm your thinking?
- What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?
Take one thing home with you:
Probably one of the most neglected commands of Jesus is to pray for those who hurt you. Let’s face it, it doesn’t come naturally. It’s so much easier to plot revenge and lick our wounds. The problem with that approach though is that, paradoxically, it keeps us attached to the very person who has hurt us. Without realizing it we give them too much control over our thoughts and feelings…like giving them rent-free space in our hearts and heads.
That is why we should choose God’s alternative: praying for those who offend or hurt us because God loves them. Because He has a plan for them. Because they may need these prayers that may never have come were it not for the hurt they caused you. Hurt should not have the final say in your heart, love should. In our pain is His power if we listen to His words. It is often when you pray for them, that you will feel a true release from the bitterness and the anger that’s been eating you up inside.