By Joey and Maan Oreta
The last part of the bait of Satan talks about reconciliation for every offense that happened to you.
Sometimes people unknowingly do things that offend you. And as a Christian, the first recourse is to utter the words, “I forgive.” But as days go by, something grows inside of you and you think otherwise. Why did I forgive right away? He should have known better because he is a Christian! Why is he like that? So you avoid that person as much as you can until you can avoid him no more.
What should be your first reaction when you are offended? In Acts 24:16, Pauls says, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” This simply means that you should not be offended by God or by man. As humans, you can say that it is normal to get offended. But this verse clearly states not to be offended, no matter how big the offense. This verse also tells you how not to take offense, and that is by exercising it. In Greek, the word exercise is askō, which means to take pain, labor or strive and to engage in some activity with continuity and effort. Exercising is not a one time, big time thing. You have to do it all the time and exert effort. There may be pain involved in the process but you have to continue. The one who exercises more becomes stronger and becomes less prone to injury. With this regard, those who do not exercise not being offended do not build the muscle of resilience and are thus easily offended all the time. Those who do not exercise frequently in God’s word are also easily swayed and led to the wrong path.
How can you fight offenses and develop muscles to be resilient to it? Psalms 119:164-165 says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws. Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make then stumble.” Because you pray 7 times a day and love the word of God, nothing can offend you. It is good to know that is it always easier to protect yourself from being injured in the very beginning by building these muscles than trying to get well once you are injured.
But what should you do if you are already offended?
There is a proper way to recover from an offense. If you have a physical injury, you will most likely have physical therapy. Physical therapy is focused training on the injured part of the body until it gets back to its previous state. If that is the case with physical therapy, what kind of training is the Bible asking you to do if you get injured or offended? Matthew 5:44 says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” That is your “physical therapy” from the Bible. But it is not the like any prayer that you are going to pray. Psalms 35:11-14 says, “Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.” When you pray for people who mistreat you, it is as if you are praying for a loved one, for family, and how you actually want to be prayed over. It cannot be simply lip service that is all lies to the Lord. Pray the best for them.
That is actually the first point in reconciliation. You have to pray for the person who mistreated you. It is very painful but the Bible asks you to do it. Just like a muscle undergoing physical therapy, it is very painful. But that is how you recover. It is the same thing when exercising your faith. Praying for the person who mistreated you is not a good feeling. But prayer is not always about good feelings. It is about saying truth. And this is the truth that the Bible instructs. So you have to be in the truth.
The second point is to go to the person who mistreated you and be reconciled with him. Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” If you know that your brother has something against you or if you have something against your brother, then go to him first and be reconciled. Before you do this, you have to pray for him first. If you go to your brother right away without praying for him, you might just be dumping all your negative feelings on him and this is not a good environment for a reconciliation. Go to your brother when you are not hurting in that way anymore. If you go there when you are hurting, your purpose will be different and you will not be reconciled in the way Jesus wants.
There is a big difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Why do you need both and not just one or the other? To know the difference, you have to understand what happened to Jesus on the cross. When were you forgiven? Were you forgiven when you said sorry? No. Your sins were forgiven even before you said sorry. When were you reconciled with God? You were reconciled with God when you repented of your sins. It is very important because it shows you that there is really an action to be reconciled. Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
What can lead to repentance or reconciliation between you and the person who mistreated you? As mentioned earlier, you cannot just go to your brother and dump your pain on him. When that times though, you can now create an atmosphere of goodness where he is able to feel the love of Jesus and then the two of you will be reconciled. When God forgave you, he created an atmosphere of goodness by giving you your life and so many blessings that should lead you to repentance and to reconciliation with Him.
John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Cover them in love because it is the language that the enemy does not understand. Cover your relationships in love so that the enemy cannot penetrate it. Another verse that talks about this is 1 Peter 4:8 which says, “Above all, keep your love for another at full strength, since love covers a multitude of sins.” Even those who have sinned deserve to be loved. Love others even if they have sinned. You will be offended. Trials will come. So if you do get offended, listen to what Romans 12:18 has to say. It says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
If it depends on you, live at peace with all men. This is not always possible because there will be people who will not want to be reconciled with you. You can only control yourself.
Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespass.”
Do you have the right to be offended? Everybody does. But if you are walking with God, you do not have the right to be offended.
The fact that you were mistreated was wrong, but your sin of being offended is not justified by the fact that you were mistreated. It is wrong that you were not treated right, but you cannot justify taking offense for what was done to you. It is all up to you. Taking offense if your sin. It is not the fault of the person who did you wrong. You need to pray and take responsibility for your sin. And only you will be able to fix it. Forgive and be reconciled.