Offenses Build Fences

Series: Emotions. James Dewhurst August 16, 2020


Offenses Build Fences

Proverbs 18:19 (NLT) “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.”

It’s probably happened to all of us at some time or another. Someone offended us by what they said or did! According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an offense is “something which outrages the senses.” Those who are offended are sometimes described as “hurt, wounded, upset, insulted, disappointed, irritated and angry”.

Researchers have defined the emotion of offense as a feeling that is “triggered by a blow to a person’s honor”. Feelings of offense belong to the category of “Self-conscious emotions”, and are caused by a threat to a person’s self-image. When someone isn’t treated right, according to social norms, that person can quickly feel disrespected, and ultimately offended. At their foundation, offenses rise from damaged self-esteem!

Winston Churchill – “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

Robert Brault – “Life becomes a whole lot easier when you learn to accept an apology that you never got.”

Another person said – “The real mark of maturity is the ability to remain pleasant when others are not!”

Abraham Lincoln – “We should be too big to take offenses, and to noble to give them.”

A wise man said – “The truth only offends people who live outside of it.”

Just because an offense is given, doesn’t mean it has to be taken!

Social Psychology teaches that an offense is often an unconscious emotional reaction, but we still have a choice! We can still take it or leave it! Although there are multiple reasons we may have to justify taking it, we still have the choice to leave it. We have autonomy over our feelings, and possess the power to choose our responses!!

People don’t offend us, We choose to be offended!

An offense may be an unconscious emotion, but the response to it is our choice!

We can choose to rise above it, brush it off, get over it, and move past it. Or, we can choose to fester on it, fume over it, get all steamed up, and start hatching revenge plans!

The wise Solomon once wrote:

Proverbs 19:11

11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (ESV)

It’s unfortunate that offenses ever even occur, but the Bible indicates that if we keep our focus upon God and His Word, He will maintain such a peace in our hearts that we can become resistant to offenses. The Bible tells us in: Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

As Christians, we are responsible for not causing offenses or carrying offenses!

Luke 17:1

1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! (ESV)

God’s purpose and plan for your life is not edited by the conditions of this world!

We must stop allowing where we are today to determine where we are going tomorrow!

Offenses build fences, and only serve to separate our world, and God’s church!

Every day people stop going to churches or serving the Lord over petty offenses!

3 specific causes that typically bring on our feelings of offense:

(1) Unmet Expectations!

At the root, offenses come from unmet expectations!

Most hurt feelings in life come from disappointments in people.

But shouldn’t we know better than to put impeccable expectations on imperfect people?

The Bible tells us that our expectations should be placed on the Lord:

1 Corinthians 11:1

1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (ESV)

Don’t put your eyes on people who fail. Keep your eyes on Jesus who cannot fail!

Hebrews 12:2

2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)

(2) Unhealed Insecurities!

Offenses arrive from unmet expectations but stay because of unhealed insecurities!

Social psychologists tell us that one of the most common reasons people take offense is insecurity. Insecurities are based on one’s self-concept, ideas, and feelings about self (Coon & Mitterer, 2009). When a person’s self-concept is challenged, and they cannot rectify the words spoken or actions taken, insecurities ensue and offenses are taken!

People with a lower self-image typically feel offense more than those with high self-esteem. Insecure people often live with a chip on their shoulders and are quick to blame their offenses on others, while those with strong self-esteem are much less likely to choose to take an offense. Self-esteem plays a huge role in taking offense!

When insecurities and offenses are left un-healed, they will turn into bitter roots!

Psalm 118:8

8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. (ESV)

Hebrews 12:15

15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; (ESV)

The Greek meaning for the phrase “Bitter Root” speaks of a root that bears poisonous, bitter, festering animosity that is harmful to others. Bitter roots only bear bitter fruits!

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of our offenses, not because of what was done to us, but because of what’s still hurting in us!

(3) Unchecked Selfishness!

C.S. Lewis – “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.”

Being easily offended and being easily offensive all come from the same root – Self!

Hurt feelings and offenses can almost always be linked directly to a self problem:

What is the cure for this self problem? A wise preacher once said, “Dead men never get offended!” The biblical solution to every one of our offenses is dying to ourselves!

Galatians 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (ESV)

You can’t stop offensive things from coming your way, but you can eliminate what they feed on: Self!

So, What’s the cure?Offenses may build fences, but forgiveness builds bridges!

Ephesians 4:32

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)

Loving the person more than disliking what they’ve done, ends the offense!

1 Peter 4:8

8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (ESV)

> Decisional Forgiveness: Is making the conscious decision, regardless of feelings, to not hold a grudge or punish someone for any offenses, and to move on from the past!

>Emotional Forgiveness: Usually takes us longer, but is also a conscious decision to, over time, release negative and vengeful feelings, and replace them with positive ones!