Sunday, May 31, 2015

Offense and Forgiveness

Offense and Forgiveness.

In this world of Facebook and other social media I am seeing more often than not a plethora of offense. Among believers and non-believers alike. Now this post isn't addressing non-believers as they don't believe in the verses I'm going to be using, but feel free to read them just the same as they have a lot of good advice. I am addressing my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This is something that bears heavily on my heart. Why do we offend? But more importantly... why do we take offense? Think about that last one for a bit. A very close and wise friend of mine once told me... we have no business being offended. If someone did not mean to offend us, we have no right to be offended by it. And if they DID mean to offend us, we certainly have no right to be offended. Well, she said those things more or less, it was about 4 years ago! But the truth stands. What does it profit us to be offended? What do we gain by it?
Absolutely nothing. Here are some verses I dug up today, I hope they encourage and build up. Not offend.

First of all. If someone does something to offend you... Tell them about it! And then forgive them.

Matthew 18:15-16 "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."
Sitting around letting something someone did or say fester in you is ill-advised. Tell him about it! Say, "hey, that actually hurt a little bit... maybe you may not know that it came out that way?"
Or, you could forgive them for it and just leave it at that. If you find you can't, though, go to him, tell him about it.

Luke 17:3-4 "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."
Again, tell your brother if he's done something against you. We are to continue to forgive, never does Jesus say that there's a limit on how many times. Forgiveness is key.

Matthew 18:21-22 "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."
Here you go, no limit. I don't think Jesus was literally meaning 490 times and then, oops, the 491st time you don't. That's silly. We need to have the heart of forgiveness, why? Read the next one.

Colossians 3:13 "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
How shameful is it to hold something against our brother -- or even enemy -- when Jesus so freely forgives us when/if we sin?

Matthew 6:14-15 "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
This is basically the bottom line. As though we need any more incentive to forgive than because God tells us to!

But it is not fair! You will say... Why should you have to suffer when maybe you are not even in the wrong? Why should you have to forgive when they aren't even apologizing?

Matthew 5:38-39, 43-48 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Someone slaps your proverbial cheek... your first reaction is to shove him away from you, or yell at him. But Jesus says to turn your cheek so he can slap the other one. If we need to love our enemies, how much more our brothers and sisters in Christ? It even says here that it's no big deal for us to love those who love us. But those who hurt or offend us... loving them takes a lot.

Romans 12:16-21 "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Even if the other party is in the wrong, what are we going to do? Do not repay evil for evil. Do not be overcome of evil! Be overcome with good! This is the attitude we need to have towards each other and even those who are not of the Church.

Matthew 7:3-5 "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
We need to be helping each other. Building each other up. If you see a fault in your brother, go to him in love and try to help him!

Why help your brother? Because it's commanded! Not only to help, but to love them!!

Romans 12: 10 "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;"

Matthew 22:36-40 "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

1 Thessalonians 4:9 "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another."

Hebrews 18:1 "Let brotherly love continue."

1 John 2:9-10 "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him"

1 John 4:11 "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

1 John 4:20-21 "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."How is continuing to be offended, or continuing in offense or unforgiveness loving your brother? How is that love? To love someone also means to forgive them. Don't hold grudges, don't harbor hard feelings.

1 Peter 4:8-9 "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging."
-- Charity: Agape. Thayer's Greek lexicon: To give a proof of love.

Ask yourself this, next time you are tempted to be offended or to hold something against a brother or a friend... Are you holding their best interests at heart?
Jude 22 "And of some have compassion, making a difference:"
We need to be sure to put others' needs above our own!! If someone is offending you, maybe consider that they have things they need to work through, go to them in love and tell them so, put aside your own want to be offended and concern yourself with their souls, their walk with God. Not to boss them around and tell them what's good for them, but to help them, to "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

John 15:14 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
How much MORE is laying down your life? Forgiving them is so small in comparison.

In the end it's always important to avoid offense in the first place.

Romans 12:18 "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." 

Proverbs 17:14 "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with."

Proverbs 13:10 "Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom."

1 Corinthians 8:13 "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."

But if we do, know that God always gives us a chance for repentance and forgiveness, why should we deny our fellow brothers the same things? And when we forgive, we need to remember to forgive the way Christ forgives us.
Hebrews 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
Do not tell your brother you forgive him in love and then bring up the instance again when it suits you. To forgive means to choose to put it behind you and not bring it up. Yes, you remember what they did, you won't be able to erase it from your memory, but you will be able to remember that you made the choice to forgive and that love dictates that you will no longer bring that offense against your brother. I sometimes have to stop myself mid-thought when I'm remembering something someone did to me and I'm tempted to get upset about it, I think to myself, "no, I forgave them for that."

I pray this little study blesses you as it has blessed me.