The bible defines offense as something that causes one to stumble or fall into sin. Therefore, the one who offends sins and leads others into sin.
Offenses will come.
Jesus assures us that opportunities to be offended will surely come. But because they do, doesn’t mean we have to take offense and live offended.
How do we overcome offense?
We mature in love
One sign of immaturity in love is being easily offended. But a sign of our maturing in love is that we cover offenses. There is a huge connection between how we love others and how we deal with offense.
Love is…not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 1 Corinthians 13:5
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
The covering we put on people whenever they offend us is love. We use the love of God to cover and we make sure we aren’t going around telling everyone how we have been offended.
The opposite of covering is gossip. When we tell others what has been done to us we are uncovering other people’s sins. It’s human nature to want to tell our offenses. It’s also not easy because we are programmed to advertise other people’s faults over our own.
Above all, love one another deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Peter doesn’t say love covers one offense; he says love covers over very many offenses. It’s a continuous action of covering people in love even when we’ve been hurt by their actions. This is how we love deeply.
Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12
We could rephrase this and say offense stirs up conflict but love covers it. We put a stop to conflicts when we choose to cover up an offense.
We choose forgiveness
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Forgiveness is kindness and it’s how we keep our hearts tender towards people.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
NLT says… Make allowances for each other’s faults.
AMP says… Bearing graciously with one another.
CEV says…Put up with each other.
Good News says…Be tolerant with one another.
Because of love, we learn to make allowances; we give people grace; we accept people just as they are; we give them room to hurt us and offend us.
We are only able to do this in God’s love. Apart from God’s love, it is impossible.
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
We watch ourselves by forgiving others.
So watch yourselves, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Luke 17:3
According to this verse, there is a place for telling people when they have hurt us but it’s for the sake of reconciliation. We watch over ourselves by telling people that they offended us and mending our relationship with that person. We rebuke people in love.
We overlook the offense
This is a sign of maturity. When we mature in love we will be able to overlook people’s insults and offenses over us. Not every offense should be addressed. We don’t have to confront people over every little thing they do to us. We mature in love and let it go.
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
Wisdom yields patience and enables us to learn how to overlook offenses.
It’s also honorable to refrain from striving with others.
It is an honor for a man to keep away from strife [by handling situations with thoughtful foresight], But any fool will [start a] quarrel [without regard for the consequences]. Proverbs 19:11 AMP
We often see offense as what has been done to us; rarely do we see ourselves as the offenders.
We should be careful that offenses aren’t coming from us.
Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! Luke 17:1
We are in trouble if we are the ones who are causing others to stumble. So we have to be careful.
We become our brother’s keeper
We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us… 2 Corinthians 6:3
We watch ourselves and we make sure that we aren’t intentionally offending people and making them stumble.
Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or the church of God. 1 Corinthians 10:32
An offense is given. We remember that our brothers and sisters are the church of God and we are careful to not give anyone offense.
Therefore, let us stop judging one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. Romans 14:13
We can be so busy judging each other that we forget the goal, which is to make sure that we aren’t making people stumble as they follow Christ.
We make sure that we aren’t infecting people with our offenses.
Offended people gossip, gossip is the enemy’s underhanded tool for infecting people with offenses. Hurt people infect others with their hurts. We infect people with our wounds through gossip.
The words of the malicious stir up strife and they go down to the inner chambers of the heart. proverbs 20:22 Aramaic Bible
Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip, a quarrel dies down. Proverbs 26:20
Anytime there is division and strife among people, there is gossip. And as long as we are spreading gossip we are keeping the fire alive. We kill conflicts by refusing to gossip. We mend relationships by covering offenses with love. We go to God to heal our offenses and refuse to infect others.
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. Hebrews 12:15
An unchecked offense becomes unforgiveness; unchecked unforgiveness becomes resentment; resentment eventually festers into bitterness. Bitterness is infectious, it colors and stains everything it touches and through it many become defiled.
We fall short of the grace of God when we refuse to forgive. Bitterness is a sin because we have refused to give people the same forgiveness we have received from God. We will infect everyone with our disease unless we get healed. We not only watch over ourselves, but we also have a responsibility to make sure we aren’t defiling others with our sins.
One translation says look after each other… We protect ourselves and protect others from being defiled by offense and bitterness.