Updated: 5/17/08

Have You Been Offended?

What should you do when Someone Offends You?

If you have had your feelings stepped on - been ignored, snubbed, criticized, falsely accused, gossiped about, had your family insulted, had your property damaged, stolen, been taken for $100, $1000, or more, or otherwise been abused by a friend, brother, spouse, child, parent, boss, employee, associate, or others - you probably felt offended. Or when you do things for others including your spouse and children and they do not show gratitude or appreciation, you might feel hurt.

Offenses are a primary cause of domestic, marital and family problems as well as international problems which far too often escalate into the tragedies of abuse, violence and wars.

Offenses in the workplace have in recent times triggered emotionally unstable individuals to go on killing sprees. It all starts because people offend one another or are too easily offended - in most cases one or each demanding their own way, not willing to give in or to make peace.

Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence relates an example of a minor domestic scuffle in which a man stalked out of a restaurant being pummeled by a woman with her fists demanding, "Come back here and be nice to me!" Her impossibly contradictory plea raging against his "indifference," seeking to engage his attention while he withdraws from her "unreasonable demands," symbolizes the plight of many unhappy couples.

All have offended!

We live in a volatile world. Jesus said, "Woe to the world because of offenses!" (Matthew 18:7).

Is there anyone who hasn't been offended? And on the other side of the issue, is there anyone who hasn't offended others? The ugly truth is that we are all offenders and victims of offenses even as the apostle James wrote,

"For in many things we offend all, if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man and is able to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2).
But, human nature being what it is, we are more likely to remember offenses of others against us, than to recognize or admit our offenses against others. When the Pharisees asked Jesus,
"Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any reason?...

He said to them, "Moses, because of the HARDNESS OF YOUR HEARTS, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so" (Mat 19:3,8).

The very first human family was troubled by offenses. When the woman was enticed by the serpent to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, she offended against God's instruction and enticed the man also. When the man was confronted by God, he blamed his wife and God. And his wife in turn said in effect, "the devil made me do it." Neither were willing to accept responsibility for their actions (Genesis 3:1-13).

Later, their firstborn son Cain became jealous because his brother Abel was more righteous than he. God accepted Abel's offering while his was rejected. Even though God warned him concerning his attitude and that he would be accepted if he straightened up his attitude, he went out and killed his brother in a jealous rage (Genesis 4:3-8; Hebrews 11:4).

Jesus' own countrymen and especially the religious leaders were offended by Jesus because of His wisdom and teachings and the mighty works that He did, so they conspired to have him killed (Matthew 13:54-58: 15:12; Luke 20:19-20). Even His disciples became offended because of Jesus when the Roman authorities took Him into custody and they were accused of being His followers (Matthew 26:31,56,72-74).

Why are we so easily offended?

Our first impulse when offended, an emotional adrenal response, is often to retaliate - perhaps verbally... or maybe even to punch the offender in the nose... turn them in to authorities... take them to court... leave or divorce them... or as some few have done take a contract out on the one who offends them.

Adam accused Eve... Cain killed Abel... The Pharisees had Jesus killed! Strife and wars thrive.

But is that the answer? Humans have followed that course for all of recorded history and it has not solved our "problems." Strife only stirs up more strife. Witness the results of terrorism in the world today.

The biblical admonition is to

"Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife" (2 Timothy 2:23).
Violence only stirs up more violence. Jesus said, "All who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52).

Should we prosecute those who offend against us according to the civil laws of the land?

"There Oughta Be A Law"

Years ago a cartoon appeared regularly in newspapers under the caption "There Oughta Be A Law" baffooning our many laws and our seemingly unlimited annoyances and irritations against one another.

Governments have legislated and imposed hundreds of thousands of laws and there are probably tens of thousands of legal points on which you can sue those who offend you. But can you find real justice and peace through the legal systems of this world? "Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" (1 Cor 6:1)

The apostle Peter asked the Lord,

"'How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'" (Matthew 18:21-22).

We will examine in this article a few of more than 490 (70 X 7) biblical points for resolving problems.

First let's understand the meaning or definition of offend. According to Webster's dictionary, the English definition of offend is to displease, anger or transgress against, but it does not imply intent. An individual may offend unintentionally or through ignorance. Offense is defined as something displeasing. This could be anything that is offensive from bad breath and irritating habits to serious criminal actions or wrong doing.

The words translated offend and offense in the Bible come from several different Hebrew and Greek words which can mean: entice to sin; to cause to stumble or fall; a transgression or sin or; to transgress, quarrel or rebel against authority.

What should we do when offended?

It has been said that "the best defense is a good offense." That may be true in many situations as long as you don't offend.

But, first consider - WHAT NOT TO DO when offended!

Try not to offend them, for Jesus Christ said,

"whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
"Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom offense comes!
(Matthew 18:5-7).

But "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man... (James 3:2 KJV).

Don't judge, curse or condemn - unless you want to be judged and condemned;

"Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

"For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
"And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?...
"Hypocrit! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye"
(Matthew 7:1-5).

"For all (including you) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

"Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practive the same things.
And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forebearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
"But in accordance with your hardness and your impentinent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
"Who 'will render to each one according to his deeds':
"eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality..."
(Rom 2:1,3-7).

Don't be contentious, argue, harass, harangue, retaliate or try to get even...verbally or physically. Don't be enticed to sin. Keep your cool.

"...unto those who are contentious (self-seeking), and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness - (is) indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil...
"But glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works good...
"For there is no respect of persons
(partiality) with God" (Rom 2:8-11).

Don't impute motives, accuse or gossip about those who offend you - Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). The untamed tongue is like a fire, an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

"Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so" (Jam 3:5-6,8-10).

"A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).

"Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord" (Romans 12:19).
If necessary count to 7 or to 490 until the adrenaline wears off and you cool down.

Do not be angry without a righteous cause and don't let the emotion of anger to control your thoughts and actions.

"The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools" (Eccl 7:8-9).

"He that is soon angry deals foolishly" (Prov 14:17).

And "An angry man (or woman) stirs up strife... And a furious man abounds in transgression" (Prov 29:22; 21:19).
Do not harbor hate or bitterness.
"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins" (Prov 10:12).

Seek good and not evil... Hate evil, love good" (Amos 5:14-15).

"The wrath (anger) of man does not work the righteousness of God" (Jam 1:20).
If the situation warrents anger,
"Be angry and sin not." But, "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath.
"Neither give place to the devil"
(Eph 4:26-27). Satan is the real enemy trying to stir up anger, hatred and every evil.

"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you"
(James 4:6-7).
Allowing anger and wrath to continue overnight leads to an attitude of resentment and bitterness and allows Satan to get control of our thoughts. This is a subject that deserves a separate in-depth article.

It is natural to think of the things we don't like about another individual when we are angry, but God's Word commands,

"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, [shouting], and evil speaking (lying, accusing, judging, condemning) be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (Vs. 31-32).
Anger and hostility also have serious health consequences leading to heart disease (literally and figuratively), cancer and other diseases. (For information on how God can help deliver you from anger and other problems, see "The Mystery of Salvation" under the "Mysteries of the Bible Menu.")

Next, consider the nature and intent of the offense.

An offense is one of those paradigms that can mean different things to different people at different times under different circumstances.

Why were you offended?

Was the offense real or imagined??? Most of us react emotionally rather than logically especially when our pride or vanity has been wounded, we think we have been wronged, or when we have been corrected. Major wars have been started over minor offenses!

God inspired David to write,

"Great peace have they who love thy law, nothing shall offend them (Hebrew "mikshol" meaning a stumbling block or cause to stumble or fall)" (Psalm 119:165).

Why did they do it?

Was it intentional or unintentional? Do we expect too much from others to please us?? Were they under stress, did they have a bad day, have health problems, hormones, co-dependency???

Did you provoke them??

When my kids were little and got into fights, one would come and tattle...I would ask, "Did you hit him or her? Often the reply was, "But he (or she) hit me first." I would then ask, "What did you do to provoke him (or her)." In most cases both were guilty and both received some correction and instruction.

Were you offended by correction or criticism??? Solomon wrote,

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but kisses (flattery) of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6, 28:23).

"Confess your faults one to another and pray for one another" (Jam 5:16).
If you have offended someone, don't try to justify yourself. Self-justification does not work, it will likely only further provoke the offended person. And, when we try to justify our offenses, Jesus Christ cannot make intercession to justify us and God may judge us.
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31).

"Vengence is mine; I will repay, says the Lord" (vs. 30; Deut 32:35).

Is God testing your attitude to see how you will respond???

When Shimei cursed David, David's soldiers wanted to take off his head. David said,

"So let him curse, because the Lord has said, 'Curse David'" (2 Samuel 16:5-13).

The point is - Check your own attitude - get yourself under control first,

"For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).

"Pray for them who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44; Philippians 4:6-7).

"Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Heb 12:14-15).
Don't allow yourself to dwell on evil thoughts, but as the apostle Paul wrote, think on,
"...whatsoever things are true (from God's Word, not man's opinions),.. honest,.. just,.. pure,.. lovely,.. of good report (not heresay, ugly rumors or your judgments); if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which you have both learned and received and heard and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you" (Phil 4:8-9).

Forgive them!

You may have justification for your anger toward someone you feel offended you or treated you unjustly. But when Jesus was nailed to the cross because of our sins, He said,

"Father forgive them (including you) for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).
How many times???
"I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:22).

"Therefore if there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy...
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves"
(Phil 2:1,3).
An unforgiving attitude prevents any reconciliation. Jesus said in His instruction on how to pray,
"forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors...
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
"But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses"
(Mat 6:12,14-15).
Anger, wrath and hostility toward others, whether justified or not, are fruits of the flesh or carnal mind and heart (emotions), but love and a forgiving attitude is a fruit of God's Spirit (Jer 17:9; Rom 8:6-8; Gal 5:12-26). The apostle Paul wrote,
"I could wish that those who trouble you were even cut off!
"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another...
"But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!"
(Gal 5:12-13,15).

LOVE them!

Jesus said,

"Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Mat 7:12).
This is a very profound statement. If you want kindness, patience, love, encouragement, acceptance, respect, communication, help, forgiveness, or anything from others DO it to them. And remember when you do evil to others, you may provoke them to do it to you also. That's why the actions of terrorists often brings retribution and can never result in peace.
"And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins" (I Peter 4:8).

Jesus commanded His disciples,

"that you love (agape) one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another"
(John 13:34-35).

This is the second great commandment in the law: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mat 22:39; Lev 19:18).
Paul reiterates,
"For the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
"But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!"
(Gal 5:14-15).
Love is the spiritual intent and purpose - the sum - of all God's law.
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
"For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultry,'...'not murder,'...'not steal,'...not bear false witness,'...'not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, all are summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
"Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law"
(Rom 13:8-10)

"Love suffers long (is patient), and is kind, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love (agape) never fails" (I Corinthians 13:4-8). (See "The Greatest Gift...LOVE" in the Keys to Successful Living Menu.)

The Scriptures say in Ephesians 5:25,

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also [loves] the church ("ecclesia," meaning called out ones)..."
And how does He love the church? Continuing, it says He,
"gave Himself for [them], that He might sanctify and cleanse [them] with the washing of water by the word (the Holy Scriptures), that He might present [them] to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that [they] should be holy and without blemish" (vs 26-27).
He gave His life for the church and He continues to give His love and spiritual leadership as well as He also, yes, He corrects the church.
"But if you are without [correction] (or reject it),..then you are illegitimate and not sons (not part of His family)" (Heb 12:5-11).
"So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nurishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
"For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones
(Eph 5:25-26)
In loving and honoring the wife a husband is to provide opportunity and encouragement to her to develop and use her God given talents.

Both the husband and wife are to "submit to one another in the fear of God (according to God's wisdom and law, not our own - Prov 1:7; 3:5; 8:13)" (Eph 5:21).

And it says to the wife,

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is Savior of the body.
"Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything... and let the wife see that she respects her husband"
(Eph 5:22-24,33).
How the wife responds to and is supportive of her husband is how she will respond to Christ. Those who will be the bride of Christ will learn by being submissive and supportive to their husbands to have compassion to help Christ in serving all humanity to bring them into the family of God (Rev 19:7; 22:17).
"Let a woman learn in [quietness] with all subjection.
"And I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in quietness.
"For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
"And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression"
(1 Tim 2:11-14).

"Let your women [hold their peace] in the churches, for they are not permitted to [talk at random]; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
"And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to [talk at random] in church"
(1 Cor 14:34-35).

Remember, it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (change)(Romans 2:4). Show them your good works that are done in the meekness of wisdom (James 3:13)...that

"they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12).
"For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" (1 Corinthians 7:16).

Go to your brother in an attitude of love, concern, humility and forgiveness... If you have offended them, apologize and make just restoration! Jesus said,

"I say unto you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment... First be reconciled to your brother... Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest [he] deliver you to the judge...and you be thrown into prison" (Mat 5:22-25).
If they offended against you, tell them their fault and how it affected you...If they hear you, you have gained your friend (Matthew 18:15). Jesus said,
"If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3).

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
"bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you...
"and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
"Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful"
(Lk 6:27-36).

But does that mean that you should subject yourself to continuous abuse and suffering?

Turn away from abusers!

If they are adamant and won't hear you and continue to abuse or offend you, we are instructed to take one or two others for witnesses...If they won't hear them, take it to the Church or counselors or authorities.
"But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen (unconverted person)" (Matthew 18:16-17).

Solomon wrote,

"A brother offended (from the Hebrew "pasha" meaning one who trespasses, quarrels, or rebels against authority) is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle." (Proverbs 18:19)

Paul warns us,

"that in the last days perilous times will come: For men (and women) will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

"It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman (or man)" (Prov 21:19,9).

You are not obligated to endure offenses and abuse from those who chose to transgress and rebel against the laws of God. You may feel trapped by your love for them, but then you may only be facilitating or enabling their selfish and evil ways by not turning away. Know that God's love for them is much greater than yours,

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn [them], but that [they] through Him might be saved (John 3:17).
In some cases they may need to be restrained or contact cut off for awhile (Rom 16:17-18). God will deal with them in due time. If necessary He may
"deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor 5:5).

For He is "Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:9).
When they truly repent, be ready to forgive and confirm your love for them (2 Cor 2:5-11).

Is there anything else we can do when all else seems to fail?

The Peace and Trespass Offerings!

God is a God of love and peace! "Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Cor 13:11). Jesus Christ taught His disciples,

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Mat 5:9).
Jesus Christ is our High Priest and intercessor - the "Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6). He is called "King of Salem (peace)" after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrew meaning "King of Righteousness") (Heb 7:1-2,21-25).
"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.
"For such a High Priest [became expedient] for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
"who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once when He offered up Himself"
(vs. 26-27).
Jesus Christ fulfilled all the OT sacrifices (Mat 5:17-18; Heb 10:1-14) for us to make intercession for our trespasses against one another . (See "Why Old Testament Sacrifices? in the Mystery of Salvation Menu.) When we have done all we can, we can go to God and ask Him to make intercession and do what we can't - that is to change the other persons heart and make peace for us.
"When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Prov 16:7).

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need!"
(Heb 4:15-16).

The Bible contains many more points for making peace with those who you might have offended or those who have offended you ...search them out!

©1991 Allen L. Stout; 2002-2008 Serf Publishing, Inc. 5/14/08