Monday, November 4, 2013

Offense vs. Defense

 of·fense

1.     a breach of a law or rule; an illegal act.
·      A thing that constitutes a violation of what is judged to be right or natural.

2.     annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one's standards or principles.

3.     the action of attacking.

“A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.”  - Proverbs 18:19

          Offense is a funny thing.  It’s like this seed planted in your heart, trying to grow, and each time you think of it or see that person it’s like watering the seed.  And offense, it is a hardy plant, growing best in the most frigid of climates.

          But once we are in Christ, and have known His great and powerful mercy, we must learn to utilize this resource to overlook offenses.

 “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”  -Prov. 19:11

          We are human however, and offense is sure to come!  People will let us down and hurt us, and whether or not it is intended; we will be tempted to be offended.  The first definition of offense is literally that someone broke a law or moral code – it is an offense.  But the outcome of that offense lies greatest in our response.  Whether or not we respond like the second definition and become annoyed.  Most of the time, choosing to pluck out that seed immediately saves our own life more than any other. 

          The other reason to overlook an offense, especially if you are a Christian, is because when you become offended, you are literally on offense (think sports) – just like the third definition of offense.  If you are on offense, then the other person(s) must be on defense.

de·fense
1.     the action of defending from or resisting attack.
·       attempted justification or vindication of something.
·       a means of protecting something from attack.
·       fortifications or barriers against attack.
·        (in sports) the action or role of defending one's goal against the opposition.

2.     the case presented by or on behalf of the party being accused or sued in a lawsuit.

3.     one or more defendants and the counsel in a trial.

The problem with you being on offense and them being on defense is that you are now on opposing teams; there is no unity.

 “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  -Ephesians 4:2-3

Not only is there no longer unity between you and that person, even if you are initially kind to their face, is that soon after the offense takes root, it sprouts a growth that tempts you to tell others about how you feel.  Offense is like a weed, it’s seed spreads like wildfire.

 “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”  -Proverbs 6:16-19

The Lord HATES one who sows discord among brothers.  It is an abomination to Him.  How often are we tempted (and act on it too) even just to knowingly roll our eyes with our girlfriends about someone else who really gets under our skin.  We are literally sowing discord, tempting others to separate and alienate someone else.

 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; ...”  -1 Corinthians 13:1-13

          We are commanded to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves (all the law and the prophets hinge on these two things), and love is not irritable or resentful. 

 “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”  -Leviticus 19:18

 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”  -Matthew 7:1-5

          Offense will come.  Other people will do things that are wrong, and it will hurt.  Other people will do things that we do not care for, and we will feel irritated.  But God commands us to choose to humbly seek for unity in the body (the church), to strive for peace, to cover one another in love, and overlook irritation and choose not to judge.  No small order, it seems.  But the longer I walk with Christ, and the more I see of my own humanity and the more I see how much He overlooks and covers with grace for me, the more I am able to extend that same grace to others.  And when I struggle, I pray for Him to help me see them as He does. 

          But NO ONE gets to claim that it is just their personality to be easily irritated.  And definitely claiming that they are just honest is a great big lie.  Think of it: how high must one think of themselves?  How prideful must we be to think that we get to decide the rightness and worth of someone else?  And think of how our offense can hurt others, especially those who are trying to grow in Christ.  When we in the church allow our hearts to get offended, we often push out others who are trying to find their way in Him. 

          Let it go, my friends, just let it go.






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