This week I received a long letter of apology and a wish to be forgiven for any pain given to me in my life. I have been pondering about my response. It is not my habit to entertain an offense. From a child, I had a sense of worth and I believe it was God given at the onset of my life. I spent a lot of time in the hospital under the age of 2 and by the time I was 4 and knelt in the Woman’s Literary Club in Holland, Michigan; which is were our church was held until it had building, my worth was sealed in Christ. My Aunt Dorothy prayed with me to accept Jesus. I remember the day. I also remember the day my grand nephew came home from church and told his mother he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. She questioned him, to make sure he knew what he was doing. He said, ‘Yes, and I believe it is the right thing for me to do.’
When we find ourselves a child of God, there seems to be an assurance of worth, that I can’t explain to anyone, short of , “It’s okay, whatever you think of me, or say about me, I know who I am in Christ, I will not take offense or hold it against you.” It seems almost cocky, but I also recognize that I am a sinner, it is Jesus who makes the difference.
When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I went to summer church camp for a week. On the first or second day, walking across the grounds, I called out to 3 girls who were walking together, they whispered and ran away from me and hid out in the ladies room for a few minutes. I followed and listened. They thought I wasn’t very smart or well dressed. I waited quietly outside. When they came out, I told them I was sorry for their decision, and I may not be the best dressed, and maybe I wasn’t as intelligent as they were, but I was a nice person and faithful friend. By the end of the week, they were my friends.
Now back to the letter. I do not take offense for myself, but I have been known to take offense for someone else. In these cases it caused me to defend the person offended and to be cautious about trusting the ‘offense giver’. Loss of trust comes with decisions others make that injure, wound, cause pain, deceive….how do you UNDO that? Time and rebuilding trust by making wise decisions and asking forgiveness. We can say anything and call it truth, but the truth is written in God’s Word. This scripture,”So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” Acts 24:16, helps me to remember that I may have given offense, but I must, we must, ask the Lord to help us keep our conscience, our hearts and our minds pure and free from offense, which is sin.
Giving offense, like hindering children (we are in God’s sight) Mark 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”
I pray not to give offense, but in this day and age any disagreement is cause to take offense. Truth will give offense. Jesus said, in Matthew 5 in the sermon on the mount that we would be persecuted for righteousness sake. Righteousness -‘being in right standing with God’, is more important than being in right standing with opinions and current societal norms. We are eternal beings, let us live it now.