One of the greatest struggles between our spirits and flesh, can be stopping ourselves from speaking out against those who have treated us wrongly, especially when the disappointment is deep and fresh. The need to gratify our flesh by pointing a finger of accusation can at times be overwhelmingly difficult to resist.
The truth is - the Bible is very clear on this issue. In moments like this, even when the temptation seems irresistible, we must take control, tell our flesh to be quite, and refuse to speak against those who have treated us unfairly.
Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them.”
Why is it so important for us to deliberately and purposefully restrain our flesh from speaking badly about those who have disappointed us? Because when we continue to speak accusingly, we refresh and rekindle the fire of the memory of that offense - keeping all those negative emotions that are attached to that memory, alive.
This is only going to aggravate and deepen the hurt, and prevent us from moving on from that place of offence.
Another trap we must avoid at all costs, is constantly trying to nurse the disappointment, by going over it again and again in our heads - trying to fix it, by imagining different scenarios that would bring about different results.
This constant back and forth in our minds just deepens and even distorts the offense , keeping it large and looming in our thoughts. Before long, the disappointment begins to influence everything about us - we’ll even begin to look like we’re carrying the world on our shoulders.
So, do we just ignore what happened altogether? Should we pretend nothing happened and just hope the hurt and disappointment goes away? Nope, not doing anything about that offense will cause it to fester and develop into a root of bitterness that will negatively affect every part of our lives. That bitterness begins to seep through our attitudes and conversations and contaminate everyone around us.
Hebrews 12:15 tells us to, “Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it,”.
So how do we avoid the trap of offense, and deal with our hurt and disappointment, before it destroys us?
Well, the very first thing we need to do is take that offence straight to the Lord. We are to cast that care straight over, releasing it to Him. This way we are able to find the strength to forgive, and release ourselves from the offence that is designed to steal our peace and joy, and lead us to utter emotional destruction.
Psalms 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail).”
The moment we surrender our hurt to the Lord and speak out forgiveness to those who offended us, we are released from the power of that offence. This may seem a little easier said than done, but there’s simply no way around it. We have to forgive to be set free.
Take a look at what Matthew 6:14-15 says about this: “For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and wilful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and wilful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.”
In my first year of high school, I remember being extremely upset and angry towards my dad and his new wife. Actually, I was deeply offended by the whole situation, not just them personally. I remember pouting on the edge of my bed one Saturday evening, complaining to the Lord about the unfairness of it all.
I was so self righteousness in my attitude towards them. Then, I clearly heard the Lord speak into my heart, He said I was to forgive and love them. My immediate response was so defensive, but I reluctantly agreed to forgive, but to love would be a little out of the question. I searched my heart and just couldn’t find a way to do that.
That’s when I heard that quiet, small voice speak into my heart and fill my mind - He said, “I’m not asking you to love them with your love, love them with my love.” Immediately, I began to see my father and step-mother with totally different eyes. I wasn’t the victim of their choices anymore.
In fact, I was completely out of the picture. The Lord, miraculously gave me His heart for them. It was a love so pure and compassionate and unconditional. I felt my own heart melt and begin to be what felt like remoulded and filled with the perfect love of God. In tears, I surrendered to that love and felt it heal me and fill me, to overflowing. From that moment everything changed for me. I was free - free from the offence and free to love, just like God loved.
You see, the Bible says we are to bless those who we feel are cruel towards us. In the Greek, the word bless means to say good or positive things. I know that must seem like a pretty tall order, especially when we are so caught up in hurt and anger that we probably can’t see or think of anything good to say about them at all.
Nevertheless, the Word is clear, and it’s always right. Once we have released that offense by forgiving those who hurt us, and opened our hearts to God’s perfect, unconditional love - speaking words of blessing become a natural outflow of what His love has done inside of us.
Remember, the very best way to do this is to ask the Holy Spirit to show us His heart for the ones who wronged us. And He is faithful to this, just as He did for me, He will do for you too. It’s impossible to sincerely bless and respond to others in love in our own strength.
Next week, I’m going to share more on how the Holy Spirit miraculously does a perfect and complete work in our hearts to not only free us, but keep us free from the trap of offence!
All my love,