When grieving, emotions are heightened, the filter of what comes out of our mouths is gone, we are hurting, exhausted in every way, and the stage is set for us to be easily offended. Small or big offenses can attack each one of us in a variety of ways. An idle comment that nags us like a hangnail or a hurtful comment intended for harm. Fiery darts aimed at our hearts may be disguised with sarcasm or spoken boldly and unashamedly in the heat of an angry moment. There will be times when the attack feels like a stab in the back or a small annoyance like a dog nipping at your heels.
It is at this time that we must be careful not to play into the enemy’s hand! Every day and during all seasons, Satan’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)! He does not play fair, ever. Thankfully the Bible offers wisdom on what to do when we are offended.
8 Ways to Respond When Offended
- Trust God as your Defender. Pray and don’t say is a wise line to remember. Talk to God and let Him come to your defense as promised, “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5, NKJV).
- Respond rather than react. Yes, there’s a difference. A reaction to an offense often involves anger leading to sin which gives the devil an opportunity (Ephesians 4:26-27). Reacting many times involves untamed emotions while responding includes a pause to pray, and asking God how to proceed.
- Guard against being easily offended. Sensitivity is a trap entangling us in a web of deception. We must make it our goal in advance to love others, which includes choosing not to be easily angered or keeping a record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
- Overlook an offense. There will be times when we will be offended, this is unavoidable. When someone trespasses against us, it is to our benefit to excuse and release the wrongdoing (Proverbs 19:11). Remember, a lot of times the person isn’t trying to intentionally hurt you with their words. Try to assume the best in them.
- Follow the scriptural process. It is tempting to first share the offense with others, which brings about more trouble, instead of following the biblical approach: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17, NASB).
- Understand that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB). Even though the enemy works through flesh and blood, the battle is spiritual more than physical.
- Forgive and avoid a root of bitterness forming in your heart. A heart of forgiveness keeps us from growing a root of bitterness. Bitterness building in our hearts often spells disaster down the road. “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15, NASB).
- Choose to forgive and forget as much as it is within your power to do so. Do not hit the “repeat” button or “nurse” the wound of an offense in your mind and heart. It is so easy to allow the enemy to replay the offense over and over again with each round, taking you further away from healing and restoration. If necessary, seek counsel to help you with this step. “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends” (Proverbs 17:9 NASB).
When, and not if we are offended, it is important to give grace and follow the example of Christ.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB).