Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
Matthew 18: 7
This verse has been on my heart lately. I was having a conversation with my fiance about my character. It seems that I can only go a few years at a time before I do something that greatly offends someone that I love and care about. I’m not talking about your every day disagreements or misunderstandings but major falling outs – the kind that makes one question the authenticity of a relationship. Once again, I was beating myself up. Why did it seem that I was always the offending party? Why can’t I just get along with everyone? One of my prayers for this new year is for God to cultivate in me a spirit of no offense, literally a spirit that refuses to be offended. I have seen such a spirit in at least one of the young women I consider my role models (shout out to the beautiful and awesome Ifeolu Oyeleye of Bethel Campus Fellowship) and it is a beautiful thing indeed. This inward gentleness and meekness that only comes from the Holy Spirit draws me (and countless others) to this young woman. Her heart for others is genuine and pure and she challenges me in my own walk of faith.
In my conversation with the love of my life, I concluded that those who are easily offended will find it difficult to be in intimate association with me. I make a lot of mistakes. Not on purpose and not with the intention to harm others but still, I fall short. I finally understand that most of my mistakes occur because I forget how “weird” I am – you might even say I am “peculiar” (1 Peter 2:9 KJV)
See what I did there? Lol.
The things that I find egregious are every day occurrences to other folks who have no issue with it. And the things I consider minor are sometimes a source of major grievances to others. I keep trying to project my own character traits and preferences to those around me and it typically causes a lot of contention.
So by this, offense will come. The Bible says “woe to that (wo)man by whom the offense come.” There is a dire consequence for being the cause of offense to others so regardless of how “different” I might be from those around me, God has called me to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness and long suffering; to bear with others and forgive them and to put on love (Colossians 3:12-14).
This is not an easy task that comes naturally. It is by the grace of the Holy Spirit that I don’t become a victim of my own pride – my first instinct when others are offended by me is to say “I wouldn’t have been offended if they did it to me so what’s their issue?” and thus, harden my heart. That’s not Christ and I don’t want to be that kind of woman. I take it seriously when I have caused offense in the heart of another so I do all that I can to mend those relationships. The challenge for me comes when I have offended someone and they refuse to be placated. I have no defense for that. I know how to deal with disagreements in a biblical manner and even though it may take me some time or a few failures to get it right, the Holy Spirit will usually do the mending at the end of the day. But what if I’m trying and others are not interested? What if someone is so offended by me that they want nothing else to do with me?
In conversation with my love, he instructed me that even the Bible says “as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Some of it won’t depend on me and I can’t force myself on others when they want no parts of me.
So offense will come, but by the grace of God, I will not be the woman by whom the offense comes. I continue to seek God for a spirit of no offense and I will do my best not to be stumbling block to others.