“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
No, this isn’t the title of a country song, although it might make a good one. This is a question to which every one of us can probably give an affirmative answer.
All of us, at some point in our lives, have been wronged. Perhaps, as a child, you were abused either physically or mentally by the very person who should have protected you and taken care of you. Perhaps you were wronged by an unfaithful spouse, a broken promise, or a lie someone told about you.
Whatever the situation, do you now feel bitter about it? Have you vowed never to forgive the person who hurt you? If so, God wants to speak to your heart today. So listen carefully to what He wants to say to you because it is literally a matter of life or death.
What you experienced through being wronged is called an offense. According to Webster’s Dictionary, an offense is “something that outrages the moral or physical senses; the state of being insulted….” When you are offended, you are outraged or insulted by what someone has said or done to you. Your natural response is to want to retaliate, to get back at the person who offended you. But doing so is not the right way to handle the situation. Retaliation only compounds the problem.
Now, I am not saying that there are not certain instances where confrontation is necessary. But the motive of the confrontation must always be love, not vengeance.
None of us will go through life without being offended. In fact, Jesus Himself said in Luke 17:1, “It is impossible that no offenses should come.” So, while we cannot avoid offenses, we can learn how to respond to them in such a way that they will not affect our hearts adversely.
To learn how to handle offense, we must look to Jesus Christ as our perfect example. In I Peter 2:21-23, we read this information about Jesus: “…when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him Who judges righteously.”
Notice that when Jesus was offended, He did not attempt to get even with those who wronged Him. He did not threaten them in any way. What did He do instead? The above verse says that He “committed Himself to Him Who judges righteously.”
Who is He Who judges righteously? It is God the Father. In other words, Jesus did not try to handle the problem Himself. Instead, He put the problem into His Father’s hands and trusted God His Father to handle it for Him.
Why did Jesus refuse to take matters into His own hands? We find the answer in Hebrews 10:30. There God the Father says, “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay.” This means that only God reserves the right to punish those who have offended us. Unless our offenders repent, they will not be able to escape God’s punishment.
Because God alone reserves the right to punish those who offend us, we do not have that right. To take matters into our own hands is a very dangerous thing. It means that we are allowing bitterness and unforgiveness to take root in our lives, and bitterness and unforgiveness, if not repented of, will eventually lead to spiritual, mental, and physical death.
The right way to deal with offense is to obey God’s command to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). This means to love and forgive the person who has wronged you, to pray that he will repent, and to put the matter into God’s hands and leave it there. When you do, you will be amazed at how God will work things out for your good.
Questions: 1) Has someone done you wrong? 2) Did you handle the situation according to God’s Word? 3) Do you need to repent and give the situation over to Jesus?
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Copyright 2015 by Dr. Mary Ann Diorio. Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via one of her social media venues below: