Why so much Offense between friends?
(And why do I always seem to be on the receiving end?)
Offenses can cause the greatest of suffering. Some theories of religion will tell you that “If you are suffering then you have secret sins! God is obviously not blessing you!” The truth can be the exact opposite!
(Note.. This article reflects the personal views of the author. It is NOT 'authorized' by any denomination.)
God isn’t just looking for people to be convicted by sin and turn to Him in ‘Conversion’! Most Christians did that long ago! (of course, many still don’t reflect God to others!)
Lets assume there are 99 fruits of the Holy Spirit. God wants you to reflect Him in all 99! Each of the 99 can be a “missing of the mark” for us, an offense to God! He wants you be convicted and converted to all 99! (And we have only “three score and ten” years to do it!)
Because humans hate to change and are blind to their own faults, achieving a single 'fruit' may require many convictions. A person might not finally put aside a ‘short temper’ until they have been convicted (badly ‘caught out’) by it a dozen times! And, being badly ‘caught out’ usually means they badly offended someone!
A sorry truth is that for every time someone finally masters one of the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’, there have been many offenses endured by others.
I personally know many older Christians who clearly reflect God, they ALL confirm that they cannot accept praise for any ‘Godly Fruit’ they might display because they remember the many offenses that it took to finally convict them! The high price their friends paid! The high price God paid!
Offenses always seem to be required in the conversion process.
Back to mathematics and the “99” fruits of the Holy Spirit.. If each ‘fruit’ gained requires 11 convictions then we are looking at 999 offenses along each Christians path! God therefore needs 'friends' who are strong enough to endure those 999 offenses!. If only one in ten are strong enough - and you are that one - then you might have to endure 10 x 999 offenses! The bottom line of this equation is that Gods estimation of 70 times 7 offenses is not unrealistic! (Mat 18:22)
Not all Christians leave a brutal trail of offenses behind them, it depends on the Christians calling and his original gifts.. The calling of Peter and Paul was very high, they both needed to be very strong willed and strong spirited and that’s the nature God gave them from birth. However, with that nature comes many offenses, and they were both famous for offenses.
Paul (as Saul) was the ultimate offense! Terror and Murder were justified in his mind! Consider the Christians Saul killed.. Were they guilty of secret sins that God so punished them? We can only imagine that in Gods eyes, they were martyrs, of whom He has precious-few! They were dear to God. They were even pre-strengthened by God. In that light, the question “Why didn’t God intervene to save them?” seems childish! Almost as bad as the question “Why didn’t He save Jesus from the cross?”
God doesn’t use “Brutal” when there’s another way.. If you are the recipient of something brutal, you too might be one of those “precious few”!
“Turn the Other Cheek” when offended? Luke 6:29
The idea of “turning the other cheek” is a very elementary introduction to a much deeper concept. That awkward image is designed to cause young children and Israelites to question their normal desire for revenge. As they grow wiser (or old), they will start to see that deeper concept.
“Nothing but Love”..
There is no requirement to actually turn the other cheek! The 'Prodigal Father' was figuratively slapped in the face by his Prodigal Son. He didn’t look down his nose and turn the other cheek! He did something far more effective. He responded with “nothing but love” and allowed time to go by!
Time is one of Gods (and Christians) greatest tools to promoting a change of heart.
When you are wounded by anyone, you don’t need to conceal your hurt, your only response should be an unaltered love for them. As time passes, their offense will become clear to them. It will eat at their own self-respect. Your “nothing but love” response will remind them of God. They will eventually repent before God, and God will be glad there are a few people like you (like Him) around!
Offenses are very valuable if they are responded to with Love and patience over time.
Some of us are tough nuts and we can offend a hundred times without conviction! These people will usually end up wounding someone very badly. Only then are they likely to be convicted! You might be the only one God has in that circle who can handle the wound! For you, that should be an honor!
Some of us are “so bad” we had to kill someone before being convicted! By allowing ourselves to develop the attitudes of Satan (Greed, Lies, Vanity, Hate Etc.) we effectively killed Gods Son! God didn’t conceal His sadness, He responded to our terrible offense with “nothing but love”! As we grow wiser and more caring, that Love and our guilt eats away at our self-image, it convicts us and we eventually undergo a life changing repentance!
Some people offend many times before the conviction sets in. You don’t need to be counting. Just respond as God did to our offense. Any time you respond with anything other than love and patience (time), you cancel the force for good!