The Poison of Offense

A person of importance in my life let me down the other day. Not only this, but he recently had the gall to lecture me on the virtues of faithfulness and trustworthiness – – character qualities which I certainly believe do not altogether escape me.  Naturally, I was upset by the incident and the hypocrisy paraded before me; what I didn't realize was how much this affected me.

Today, an opportunity arose where this person promised to help me with something.  As I thought about the prospect of this person's assistance actually occurring, negativity and sarcasm began to boil up from the depths of my soul; so much so that within a few minutes I actually began to feel physically sick.

Thank the LORD for his awesome mercy, his incredible love for us, his gentleness that targets us with such precision like salve to the wound.  "Listen to yourself," he quietly whispered, "he hasn't even done anything to you today, and yet you have already armed yourself against him, somehow assuming that he is deliberately making promises he has no intention of fulfilling."

My eyes widened and I gasped; I exhaled for what seemed an eternity as I began to understand the gravity of my error.  "Your offense is poisoning you."  Immediately I recanted my position of false superiority; I asked the Father to forgive me, for the Son to cleanse me, and for the Spirit's empowerment to forgive this person for previously abandoning me in my need.  Instantly I began to feel the tightness in my chest start to release.  I glanced over my right shoulder and I saw the enemy in my mind's eye, skulking and scowling in the knowledge that he had been found out, and that his hypnotic hold over my emotional state had been broken.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  What is it that causes us to hang upon every injustice we assume to suffer and to drive a benchmark through the event for all of history to witness?

Picking up an offense is one of the most seductive and dangerous forms of self-worship there is.  Based within our own faulty sense of justice and the limited perspective we have--seeing things only from our vantage point, we become completely confident in our ability to judge the motives and sensibilities of others while rejecting those same judgments as they apply to us.

The vast majority of us who were raised as Christians were no doubt forced to recite 1 Corinthians 13, whether in Sunday School, church camp, Christian school, or youth group.  Today, verses 4 and 5 resonate with me perhaps in a closer way than they ever have before:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Father God, I ask that you would impress this lesson on me; help me to hold it fast and close.  Holy Spirit, engrave this law on the tablet of my heart.  Release my heart from the poison of offense; cut the cancer of judgment away from my lips.  Heal me and help me to walk in your joy and your peace, being a conduit of your everlasting love.