Graident Week 4
Did I Do That?
Written by Melissa Smith
Offend. The word itself makes me feel things. Things I'd rather not have to deal with called feelings. The very definition of the word (cause to feel upset, annoyed or resentful) lets me know I'm not going to like what follows. Nothing good ever comes from Offend. If I let myself, I can bring up a list of the parts of my life that have left scars and things from last week that are still scabbed over. Gross, but it's the nature of Offend. It's ugly and doesn't like to leave quietly.
When we contemplate the word, we usually scroll through memory files of offenses from our past and present. They range from minor annoyances to life-altering insults that changed a part of who we were. We may be far removed from the situation, but that doesn't always mean it's removed from us. The struggle to apply who we are as new creations filled with every spiritual blessing as gifted to us by Jesus looms over us.
How do we realize who we are in Him when there are so many people and situations pressing against us?
There's another side to this word that we don't often consider, but is very much a part of its dynamic. The role we can play as an offender. It happens when the cause to feel upset, annoyed or resentful is us. When we flip through our files, how often do we examine the pages written by our actions? It's a difficult task to be sure, but it's one that is worth exploring.
The core of who we are as believers is what affords us the ability to objectively examine our scars, scabs, and scalpels. It is only through our Christ-centered existence that we are able to heal and move forward.
Before we can do anything, there is something we must always remember and constantly remind ourselves. We are absolutely loved and completely righteous! There is nothing that we have ever done, will ever do or have experienced that will ever diminish how much our Father loves us and how far He is willing to go for us. No matter what happens or what you hear in your head, do not forget this! In case you forget, refer to 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 8:12; Psalm 103:12; Song of Solomon 6:3 to name just a few verses.
We wear the labels of "offender" and "offended" all too quickly. I've spent a lot of time considering this and trying to hone in on the best ways to handle each side. There are many verses that tell us how to approach someone who has offended us or what to do when we've done something that has caused another's pain. They are all very good scriptures and have helped me through each phase of Offend. However, I've realized there is a common thread between all of them.
There are many verses related to the words offender, offended, and forgive. There are 3 actions I've found that covers them all: love, grace, and mercy. This is agape love: an unconditional love that puts the needs of others first and persists regardless of circumstance.
The grace we extend is a reflection of the freely lavished, undeserved favor gifted to us by God. We extend mercy as seen in our compassion and kindness toward the people who need it the most, ourselves included.
These 3 traits summarize who we are in Christ and our freedom (through Him) to demonstrate them in all situations.
I still don't like to think of the word offend. I don't like the feelings that go with it any more than I like the thought of breaking my leg! But, when I apply love, grace, and mercy to each person and situation (past or present) something happens to the way I see it. My viewpoint towards it softens. The feelings I try to avoid being replaced with an ability to see the other side of the situation. My needs for things to be fair or to be right fade. I get to the point where God is able to show me how He has restored my soul and redeemed my losses.
In practicing this more, I have had to confront feelings less. By making it my goal to walk in the love, grace, and mercy I have been given through Jesus. I no longer cringe at the word offend.
If you still need a couple steps of how to get started I made a list:
Define the offense.
Determine the culprit.
Decide the order in which to apply love, grace, and mercy. Apply liberally.
Repeat as needed.
Note: you will meet resistance when facing Offend. Always Remember You are not alone and nothing is impossible with God.