The trip, and eventual fall, came after a simple scroll through my Facebook newsfeed alluded to my being ignored, disregarded and unwanted. Of course, this was all pretense as there was no factual evidence this was done purposely. However, the longer I wallowed in this pit of misery, a seed was implanted and rejection began to take root. Rejection quickly turned into a twisted weed of offense, which wrapped right around my heart and put a stranglehold on my thoughts. I endured a few miserable days.
Misery festered until I was reminded of Paul’s warning to the church in Ephesus. We should heed his warning today as he left us with instruction for obtaining victory in the battles we would endure. He wrote, “in every battle, take faith as your wrap-around shield, for it is able to extinguish the blazing arrows coming at you from the Evil One!” (Ephesians 6:16, TPT). The Evil One released the arrow and had hit its intended mark—bullseye! I confess – it hit me hard. I allowed the arrow to remain implanted for a few days while I sputtered and stewed to the Lord about the matter. Step one: recognize who is shooting the arrows at you.
The Great Counselor compassionately listened as I poured out my hurting heart to Him, but after a few days He began to gently nudge me towards freedom. (He only allows me so much time in self-pity mode before He begins to challenge my thinking). This time was no different, and He began to speak to my heart about the word offend. What He began to show me was so helpful I want to pass it on to you! Step two: recognize when it's time to listen to the Holy Spirit's nudge.
When we fail to guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23), it becomes an easy target for hurt, which often leads to offense. Goodness, offense is easy to latch on to these days; it seems to be a quick response in every situation. We are in a war with the spirit of offense as it seeks out opportunity to imprison its captives. Solomon wasn’t lying when he wrote, “it is easier to conquer a strong city than to win back a friend whom you’ve offended. Their walls go up, making it nearly impossible to win them back” (Proverbs 18:19 TPT). But have you ever noticed the two words that make up the word offend? Look closely. They are OFF and END.
Off is defined this way: From a place or position, at a distance, separated from support. (Merriam-Webster.com).
End is defined this way: The point that marks the extent of something - it ceases to exist. (Merriam-Webster).
I realize now how the sting of offense often leads me to a place of separation from the one who pierced me. I tend to shut myself OFF for a bit, and avoid contact with the offender. This is a bit more difficult to do when the offender lives with me (it doesn’t happen often, but every now and then…). Usually stepping away helps me sort through the matter with the Lord.
The next part of the word is END, and the Lord’s plan is for us to bring the matter to Him so it can END – quickly. He wants us to end the matter quickly because the pure in heart see Him; the pure in heart hear Him (Matthew 5:8). Offense clutters and contaminates the heart. Wise Solomon said, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning; patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit (pride)” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 AMP).
When I was in the ‘off’ stage of my offense, I was ‘off’ and miserable. Oh, I was a grumpy ol’ gal. My only focus was on the perceived wrong done to me. Once I hit the ‘end’ of the matter the offense reached its extent and ceased to exist and I felt better. I felt free, actually. Step three: recognize what the offense is costing you (and others).
There will be plenty of opportunities for us to trip over offense and land in the pit of self-pity. However, we allow our identity to change—one letter at a time—when we discover the freedom that comes from reaching the end. No need to remain off—end the matter, forgive the offender, and remove the Evil One’s arrow.
Step four: #BeYou
E-End the matter