Tag Archive: offence

‘We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.’ [ Rick Warren]

Continuing this series on looking backwards to move forwards well, this has to be one of the hugest aspects of how it can be beneficial for you. Getting this one right can transform your life and relationships – it won’t necessarily be the easiest of journeys, but it will be completely worth it.

‘Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.’ [Mother Teresa]

Sometimes people can be mean. They can be jerks. Sometimes we probably deserve it. Other times it might come as a complete blind side and have nothing to do with us. But at some point in life, especially if you are living a Jesus-following life [or trying to], someone is going to hurt you, a lot, and you need to figure out how best you can and should respond.

Stephan Pastis, through his amazing comic strip, Pearls before Swine, captures it this way:


Which is Truth number one, which I have also heard put this way – ‘Holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking a cup of poison and hoping that the other person will die.’

And it’s true. There can even be times when someone has done something to hurt you and so you nurse a grudge against them and they don’t even know they have done it. So they are living life completely unaware that they even hurt you in any way and you are starting to fester with anger and bitterness and maybe even thoughts of revenge. It is so healthy to approach the person directly and hopefully be able to resolve it well, but at the very least be able to get to the point of forgiveness and then move on.

Jesus deals with it in the prayer He teaches His disciples by introducing the phrase, ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.’ The link there is very intentional and implies that you can’t have one without the other. But, knowing how slow we are, He almost sneaks this one in right at the end of the prayer, just to make sure we got it: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” [Matthew 6.14-15]

He echoes it again big time in the parable of the unmerciful servant, found in Matthew 18. From a place of realisation of all that you have been forgiven by God, the natural reaction should by you extending forgiveness, mercy and grace to those around you. But it is also something He commands us to do with the proviso that if we are unable to, then we surely will not receive forgiveness from God.

Which brings us to a second important Truth:

true story

If we truly love God and our neighbor [another great command Jesus demonstrated so well in His life, and also in His death as He gasped out the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” while literally dying on the cross for those who had put Him there [Luke 23.34], then forgiving them should be a natural desire for their sake, but the reality is that forgiving someone else frees us from bitterness, deep anger and hatred which threatens to eat us up. I strongly believe that if you live with any measure of unforgiveness in your life, that it will affect every single other relationship you are in. You cannot experience or offer true Love unless you are willing to come to a place of forgiveness towards those who have wronged you. [with the knowledge that forgiving them doesn’t mean what they did was not wrong or hurtful to you].

Which brings us to this absolute Truth:

so much of Truth

If you have been deeply hurt by someone then everything in you may be wanting to revolt against that statement. But it is true. People can encourage towards anger. People can provide context for offence.

But each one of us decides whether we take it on or not. And remember the word in the Bible was not about anger being wrong, but rather it says, ‘in your anger do not sin,’ [Ephesians 4.26] which feels a whole lot more achievable.


A helpful Truth is to realise that Forgiveness is not a feeling. Much like Patience and sometimes Love, you don’t always feel like forgiving. Especially if what the person did to you was really hectic and just messed up [like some form of abuse or physical assault]. It is largely the decision to not allow what was done to you to affect your daily life and relationships with others. The more painful the thing done to you, the more often you have to make the choice. So maybe at the beginning you have to decide every hour to forgive that person. After a while hopefully it becomes a few times a day. And then eventually it once a day and then hopefully once or twice a week. “Today I choose not to hold this thing against them, or to let it affect me.” And trusting that God is big enough to help you, maybe not forget the thing completely, but to not remember it with anger and bitterness and the need for revenge. What amazes me about the Love of God is not that He had this kind of spiritual amnesia when it comes to my sin, but that knowing the sin I have been involved in, He chooses to absolutely not hold it against me and treats me as if I have never done any of that stuff. This is what we hope for.

On the plus side, there is the assurance that God will not let the wrong go unpunished. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” [Romans 12.20]

I know, I know, I too have wanted to suggest that perhaps that wasn’t necessarily meant as a metaphor in ‘this particular case’ but sadly the Greek holds up. But God has this. Don’t waste time, energy or health and don’t damage your other relationships in life by holding on to something that, like with pig at the top, may not even be affecting the other person even in the slightest. Extend forgiveness. Choose life to the full.

‘You couldn’t erase the past. You couldn’t even change it. But sometimes life offered you the opportunity to put it right.’
[Ann Brashares]


Don’t waste this opportunity to free yourself from unforgiveness which affects every other relationship you have, even if you don’t realise it. And know that as hard or impossible-seeming as it might appear, that God promises you the resources and strength to be able to go through with it.

Some other posts on Forgiveness related matters include:

Ubuntu-botha [Rescuing the perpetrator]

Forgive without punishing

Amazing Grace, how costly so

How to condemn evil, while loving evil people

[To continue on to the next post looking at Regret, click here]

so i have been going to gym, with my good friend from across the street, Coe aka Cobra [aka creator of the most powerful beast in the world – the Snuck – it’s a snake, but it looks like a duck so you think it’s all cute and innocent and go to stroke it, but watch out, it’s a SNAKE!!!] [disclaimer: Coe has not actually created any Snucks as of yet so back of PETA, he has just visualised them, put down the placard and step slowly away from it] for close to two months now and we’ve been pretty good at going three to four times a week [which, with our crazy schedule is quite impressive and means on most days a 5am wake-up call, especially when i haven’t!]

and i don’t have access to a scale so i’m not sure how much good it has done – we go to Planet Fitness which is a No Judgement gym and so part of that is not having a scale [or wearing jeans while you work out apparently?] for some reason. i know Coe has lost weight cos he told me and i still feel as fat as when i started [not Fat Albert fat, but just more forward in the stomach department than i would optimally like to be] altho in a totally unrelated story none of my long pants fit without falling down all the time [my conspiracy theory is that my stomach stretched them out so that they are bigger than me as opposed to i lost any weight] so basically what i am trying to say is i should find a scale. but something is clearly happening and apparently the stomach holds on to fat the longest.

in other news, i am trying to gain weight, no wait, needing to gain weight… three different situations in my life at the moment call for me to be ‘the bigger man’ – two that directly relate to me and one that is within the community we live and move in and relates to friends of mine… and it strongly looks like if i don’t step up in any of those situations and say something, that no-one else will and they will simply be buried in the sand until such time as they get dragged out when the next thing happens…

to add to that, this is i feel the story of my life, a situation happening where someone has to intervene and a number of other people potentially being able to, but the reality of if i don’t do it, it really is unlikely to happen…

and kinda like going to the gym, i kinda know what i have/need to do, but i don’t really want to. and kinda like the gym it’s because i’m tired and it’s a mission and there will be some degree of feeling bad before any feeling good comes out of it. and kinda like the gym i feel like there is a certain cost i need to pay to go there…

but then an email sent in love from a friend kicks me in the butt and strongly-but-in-love reminds me that i have to go there… and then i read this passage which would be a lot more fun if it said “there remember that you’ve been a plonk and need to go sort it out,” but it doesn’t, instead it says:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” [Matthew 5.23-24]

‘Your brother or sister has something against you’ can definitely be because you were a plonk. but it can also be that they were a plonk. either way, before you continue worshiping Me, says the Lord, go and sort out your crap.

‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’ [Romans 12.18]

Words we like to ignore. Because it is far easier to walk away and give up on one friendship or relationship when we have so many others that require less work, effort, doscomfort, cost.

But, as with gym, this is meant to be a No Judgement zone.

and as with gym, you have made a commitment to something and if you don’t live that out, then you have wasted a lot of something.

and as with my scaleless gym it might take me a while to figure out exactly what difference is being made, and maybe none that i can see now [maybe none ever] but by doing the right thing and continuing to be the person to stand up and approach and seek peace and right relationship, i can be confident that some difference is happening.

as i read once and strongly believe, “Offence isn’t given, it’s taken.” and so if i am feeling offended or wronged or hard done by, by those around me, then i really need to start my journey at the mirror and then probably proceed to my knees or face, before standing up and being the bigger person and doing the right thing.

all of this has been well modelled by a man who did no harm to anyone and yet was betrayed and denied and spat upon and beaten and hung on a tree by the very people He came to Love and Teach and Heal and Raise from the dead and yet His response was not holding on to the offence caused and letting that become His identity, but rather the quite revolutionary opposite extreme:

‘Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”‘ [Luke 23.34a]

i guess if we say we’re following Jesus, then we should really… follow Jesus. yes?

[with special thankx to Gnomus Brooks, Saint Mandy, Rob and others for being the piercing light through the darkness i found myself in]

i shoveled snow this morning for the first time and it was quite enjoyable and i imagine i could never shovel snow again and be quite happy – it was a fleeting novelty for sure.

altho i know that if it snows tomorrow i will have to shovel snow again. it will not be enuff that i shoveled it today.

i cannot live off the memory of yesterday’s shoveled snow.

the same is true with the crap in our lives – broken relationships, wounds, offences, struggles with temptation, sin…

it is not enough that i dealt with it yesterday, that i overcame it, that i cleaned it up…

the moment there is a new relationship needing work, a new wound that i have caused or received, an offence i’ve taken from someone [because offence is never given, it’s taken], a new temptation that is strongly calling, a new moment of mess-up or getting it wrong… i have to grab my proverbial shovel and deal, repent, ask for forgiveness, fight against it, seek healing and restoration and so on.

i cannot live off the memory of yesterday’s dealing with stuff – when it arrives freshly, i need to get shoveling.

dealing with something the first time is often easy, or easier.

asking someone for forgiveness, while not fun is generally doable, but when you mess up again and have to crawl back and ask for forgiveness FOR THE SAME THING, wow, man, give me snow any day… so it becomes easier to let it build up.

in philly, if you leave the snow unshoveled for too long, you get a fine and have to shovel it anyway.
in life, if you leave stuff undealt with for too long, you suffer for it and will undoubtably have to deal with it at some stage anyway… and by then it will have probaly built up a lot and require so much more work and effort.

you got any snow that needs shoveling?

looking at life-transforming changes you can bring to yourself in 2012, here is another great idea:

if you sneak your car in front of me when i am in a long line of traffic heading towards the off-ramp, i can respond in two ways – swear loudly and flip you the finger while holding my hand down on the hooter [horn to the americanese!] or i can choose to smile and give you the spot and enjoy the extra few moments i get to listen to music in my car while i drive home…

if you greet me in the morning with a grumpy face and don’t even greet me, i can choose to respond in kind or else i can realise that you had a late night and aren’t feeling so good are still on the way towards the coffee pot and flash you a smile and greet you warmly and then go and make you some coffee…

and so on. as the saying goes, “Offence isn’t given, it’s taken.”

Uncle Google seems a little unsure as to who coined the phrase first, but it is a deep truth. If we look at the life of Jesus, we see that He was given many opportunities to show offence [He was doubted, beaten, betrayed, denied, mocked, spat on, crucified] and yet the only times we see Him taking offence are when people are exploiting the poor in the temple grounds and when the religious teachers are exploiting the masses. On so many other occasions Jesus responds with a gentle response or a calm action or simply walks away from the fight. Jesus demonstrates this thing is possible.

and it will revolutionise your life once you get it. i am still working on it for sure, but i am a lot better than i used to be. choosing not to be offended when the opportunity for offence presents itself sucks the wind out of a potential fight or protects a relationship from being wounded.

getting offended and responding in offence is a choice. sometimes people or circumstances help to make that choice the easier one to go to, but it is always a choice. you do not have the power to offend me – i alone have the power to become offended. but it would help if you didn’t help so much.

try this for a week – choose for the next seven days to not get offended no matter what life or people throw at you – and report back here when you’re done and let me know how it goes… your life will be changed forever.

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