“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!”
(Luke 17:1, KJV)
In my twenty-plus years in the church, I’ve experienced my share of offense and hurt. The offense can cause us to become bitter and divided within the body of Christ, which may lead to us walking away from God.
“But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (I Corinthians 8:12-13, KJV).
There was an incident that happened when my kids were babies. I was hurt so deeply that I thought, how can a Christian treat someone this way?
Initially, the other person didn’t see anything wrong with how they hurt me. When my faith was tested, she treated me like one of Job’s “friends.”
“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13, KJV).
At the time, we were dealing with a season of financial hardship. My husband developed an illness caused by mold growing in our apartment. He was laid off from his job, and we had to leave our apartment. We were homeless at the end of October, close to Thanksgiving. I was a mess, stressed out, and wondering where God was in my troubled seas. All I could do was trust the process and know God was able to come through.
My family was away from God, and our relationship was strained, so asking for help was not an option. My husband’s family lived three states away and couldn’t help us. We had no choice but to tell our pastor about our predicament. He was kind and sympathized with our family’s situation, especially with three babies in our care.
Our church decided to help us. We moved into a hotel and began our search for a home.
God blessed my husband with a temporary job installing flooring. I stayed in the hotel with our three small children, looking for apartments and submitting my husband’s resume to open positions so he could find a permanent job.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, KJV).
It was a faith-challenging season, but the most difficult part was still to come. My husband was friends with an older couple at our church. They heard about our situation and decided to open their home to us. It felt like an answer to prayer. We would stay with this couple just long enough to find a home before Thanksgiving. That was my hope.
I had no idea God was testing not only my faith but also the faith of the elderly lady He had placed in a position to bless us. Unfortunately, she became a cause of offense to me rather than a blessing.
From the moment we arrived, she constantly reminded me that our family needed to leave her house by Thanksgiving because her son was coming home. I assured her that we had no intention of extending our stay. We planned on having a home of our own before the holidays.
I prayed, fasted, and put my faith in God. I prayed that He would come through, and then I repeated the process of submitting resumes for my husband and applications for housing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to find housing during the holiday season. But God was working even when I didn’t see it.
Offenses will come to us, and they did. The sister in the church told me she didn’t believe we would find a place before Thanksgiving. I replied, “God will provide for us.” I stood firm on His Word and believed He could perform a miracle. Still, there were moments when I was unsure whether God would come through.
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18, KJV).
I reached out to my friends when I was at my lowest point. God blessed me with many sweet, godly friends who supported, loved, prayed, and believed with me that God would give my family a home for the holidays.
Unfortunately, the opposition didn’t stop; it increased. I felt like a terrible parent because I could not give my kids a home. But God came through! Just over a week before Thanksgiving, God gave my husband a good-paying permanent job, and we found a beautiful home for our family within three days.
And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27, KJV).
The Art of Reconciliation
After we left the elderly couple’s house, things were tense between us, but I would not allow myself to hurt her in the same way she hurt me.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, KJV).
She approached me during a Sunday service in December of the same year. I immediately put up a wall and was unwilling to speak to her. She asked, “Can I talk to you?” I replied, “I can’t talk to you right now because what you did to me was very hurtful.” She turned away, sad. A week later, she walked past me, dropped a folded piece of paper in my lap, and walked away. My husband asked, “What is it?” I opened the paper and saw an apology: “I’m so sorry about how I treated your family. You’re a good mother and wife, and I should have treated you better. Please forgive me.”
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32, KJV).
I gave my husband the paper, and he said, “What are you going to do?” I replied, “I don’t know. I’m hurt and angry.” I took the paper, crumpled it in my hand, and walked into the restroom to toss the note in the trash. I looked in the mirror and asked, “God, what do you want me to do?” He said, “Forgive her.” I forgave her, but I kept my distance because I didn’t trust her anymore. I still had an open wound that I needed God to heal.
Weeks later, at our Christmas Eve service, she came to me and said, “I am so sorry for how I treated you. God’s been dealing with me.” I replied, “It’s okay. I’ve already forgiven you.” She hugged me, and I hugged her back, and it was the end of the offense coming to me.
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13, KJV).
You will get offended in the church, but how you handle offenses makes all the difference.
Despite being excessively offended by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and His disciples, Jesus Christ still loved them and helped them.
Being offended by someone who has hurt you can lead to bitterness, hatred, and faithlessness. Your relationship with God will suffer if you don’t deal with the offense, forgive the person, make it right, and move forward. You may even find yourself in a position where you walk away from God because someone didn’t behave in a godly manner.
If you’ve been offended, don’t let Satan use it to destroy you. Instead, talk to your pastor or a godly friend. Start the process of forgiveness. Don’t allow someone else’s poor behavior to cause you to walk away from God and risk missing out on Heaven.
Forgiveness is difficult, especially if you have been hurt repeatedly by people throughout your life. Some people have hurt me that I thought were my friends, but God showed me there is power in forgiveness. There’s also peace and closure when you forgive.
Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean everything is guaranteed to turn out great. The offending party might think they did nothing wrong, but God has a way of showing them their mistakes.
Here are some suggestions to help you forgive and move on when someone hurts you:
- Forgive right away, even if you’re hurt.
- If you’re having difficulty forgiving, ask God to help you; He will open your heart to forgive.
- We sin when we think evil of the person that hurt us or consider ways to hurt them as they hurt us. If you want a clean slate with God, ask Him to forgive you (Luke 11:4).
- If the person that offended you recognizes that they hurt you and offer to repair the damage they’ve caused, accept it because a house divided will not stand (Mark 3:25, KJV).
As a mom of three young children and experiencing homelessness, I was hurt when my sister in the church didn’t show me kindness and grace. But it taught me to offer the same kindness and grace to others God has shown me.
My faith in God was tested to confirm that He will provide our needs according to His riches in glory. God may test our ability to handle offenses from within and outside the church.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He forgave those who put nails through His hands and feet. With Jesus as our example, how can we not forgive the brother or sister who trespasses against us?
The enemy uses division as an effective tool against the body of Christ. Let’s learn how to show mercy, grace, and forgiveness to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, even if they hurt us. Jesus didn’t have to forgive those that crucified Him, but He did.