Over the years I have watched the crippling effects of offense in the life of Christians. I believe it is not most people’s intention to become offended; it certainly was not mine. I was caught in this vicious snare and demonic cycle for years because I did not understand the strategy of the enemy. Offense unchecked and unmanaged opens the door to unforgiveness.
We have often heard people say when someone is enmeshed in the deadly claws of offense, "You just need to forgive them." The Greek word for offense is Skandolon, which means a trap or a snare. That is the very reason why it is so deadly because no one would willingly walk into a trap, it’s a trap because it is hidden.
What I have experienced is forgiveness is a learned discipline, and most people don't even know where to begin. I will highlight some key areas that I have gathered over time that has successfully taught me how to forgive and effectively and victoriously move on from the offense. When you genuinely forgive there is no emotional trace of Satan’s lethal attack.
One thing you can bet on is that you will get offended, hurt and betrayed. This was Jesus' instructions to his disciples in Luke 17:1-4 (KJV),
"Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you,rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.
I often give my testimony about running into my ex-husband's mistress. It was years after our divorce but the fact remained that she still helped destroy my family. No one was more surprised than me that the hatred that I had felt over the years had waned entirely and my first response was to embrace her. It solidified to me that the word works and forgiveness is possible.
Forgiveness means to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. To Set-free, pardon, acquit, or exonerate. When we genuinely forgive the debt is stamped “paid in full.” Many times forgiveness is difficult because we feel that the perpetrator still owes us an apology, an explanation, or needs to acknowledge their wrongdoing. History has proven that power lies in the hands of the one that forgives, the perpetrator is almost always too weak to recognize or acknowledge their behavior.
Below are the steps to forgiveness that helped me:
- Forgiveness is a decision. It is not an emotional transaction but a spiritual one. You may not emotionally feel a thing and can potentially still have hurt feelings.
- Forgivness is a faith walk and your confession becomes very powerful. Meditate on the what the scriptures say about forgiveness and walk in faith that the matter is already settled. 2 Corinthians 4:13 (KJV) says, "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak." In essence faith speaks what it believes.
- Acknowledge the hurt. Forgiveness unchecked becomes bitterness and resentment which is anger and disappointment at being mistreated. Anger unchecked becomes rage and rage is uncontrollable. Ephesians 4: 31 (KJV) reminds us to “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” And Hebrews 12: 15 (KJV) “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it, many become defiled (tainted, stained, corrupt).”
- Ask God for forgiveness. Repent of how you have let the offense affect your relationship with God and his people.
- Pray for them. A friend taught me years ago you can never hate someone you are praying for. 1 Peter 3:9 reminds us, “Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.”
- You may need to move on. It is essential to understand reconciliation may not be an option. One of your Kingdom rights is to use wisdom. I remember saying to God after a long season of carrying an offense, “I am going to protect myself.” And He said to me, “No, I will protect you, you use wisdom.”
- Trust and forgiveness are not the same things. Trust is something that must be earned depending on the magnitude of the offense. Some relationships need to be over. An old adage says, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” One of the questions I often ask myself about relationships is, “What emotional state was I in when I met them?” If my emotional state was compromised or I was in the middle of a significant transition I probably was not in a good position to develop a new relationship. People with ill-motives or demonic intentions ususally attach themselves to you in a moment of weakness.