In life, while being offended is perhaps to some extent inevitable, holding onto offense is definitely avoidable and is a choice! If we are to neglect the fear-based folly of being easily offended, a deep look into why we hold onto offense reveals a prideful mind that thinks the world of ourselves or a mind that thinks the person who offended will get away with what they have done. So, many times we react in essence because deep down we think God’s justice is not quite just enough; we think that our justice is much more applicable and right, and we truly do not believe that the offender will reap whatever they sow! We tend to hold onto offense and act upon it when we cannot stand the thought of God being merciful to the person who has done us or our loved one’s wrong. Like Jonah, we would rather have the ‘Ninevites’ of our lives be judged and punished by our own measuring stick instead of God’s.
Our tendency to hold onto offense is born out of self-righteousness. When we say ‘I cannot believe this person did this to me; I must punish them by…’ we have become the judge. In becoming the judge, we have unconsciously taken the place of God and have unknowingly entered into pride. And because pride comes before destruction, it turns out that we punish ourselves by holding onto offense.
The bible warns of the folly of meting out our own justice in the story of Absalom (the son of David) and his brother Amnon. The scripture tells us that Absalom was bent on exacting the revenge he saw fitting on Amnon after Amnon had wickedly forced himself on Tamar (see 2 Samuel 13:32). Rather than wait on God’s justice to be done on Amnon, he determined after two years that he had waited long enough for the ‘just’ price of death to be paid by Amnon. Absalom simply could not wait on God’s timing nor was he willing to consider that death might not be the right price to pay.
While our human emotion and sentiment may tend to say that what Absalom did served Amnon right, the problem is that what he did also served him (Absalom) wrong. As a result of his justice, he broke the fellowship he had with his father (David), he caused division and turmoil within the family, he lost the good life he was enjoying in Jerusalem, and he had to flee in fear and live in fear of retribution. Yes, Absalom punished Amnon, but he also punished himself.
Conversely, David was a man whose heart was surrendered to God and so relied on God’s justice in God’s timing. Rather than take his opportunity to kill Saul (see 1 Samuel 26), David spared Saul who was a major source of offense to David and instead said in regards to Saul that ‘As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish’ (see 1 Samuel 26:10). Although David’s aide saw the opportunity to kill Saul as God’s diving intervention and blessing, David knew better. He knew exacting justice by his own means and in his own way would profit him nothing. Here is how things turned out: Saul did go out to battle and died as ordained by God – therefore, God’s justice was done in God’s way. Furthermore, David got the kingdom God he was promised by God without fear of retribution for Saul’s murder. Not bad eh?
Food for Thought: You do not like yourself too much if you hold onto offense