A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.
This past Friday, I had a fight with my husband. One of those that ends with me walking away, trying to find somewhere to be alone. (Tell me this happens to you, too!)
Anyway. As I went into our bedroom by myself, I thought, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.” I was pretty sure that was a Proverb, but I wasn’t entirely confident. Either way, I knew the Lord was speaking to me. The phrase was on repeat in my brain. I had become that offended “brother,” and the walls around me had certainly gone UP. Nobody was getting back in!
As I considered this, Rick came in to reconcile. (Yay! I did NOT have the strength to do that–my walls were up, remember??)
He came in with love & gentleness, I forgave him and vice versa. The walls went down. I was no longer a “brother offended.”
Later that evening, I had an encounter with someone else. This time, I was the offending party. It was part accidental, part on purpose, without any malicious intent. I meant something as a joke, but it was inappropriate and definitely not done in the right context or at the right time. To put it simply, what I said was foolishness, and this person was offended, to the point of tears.
What was she? Offended. And the walls of the citadel were up, up, up.
Again, I heard in my head, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.”
The next day, after amends had been made, forgiveness had been given and the walls were back down, I was reading John Bevere’s book, “The Bait of Satan.” Amazingly, the whole book is about offense and being offended and what it does to us. Talk about perfect timing!
“When one person is wronged by another, he believes that a debt is owed to him. He expects a payment of some sort.”
This is so true. While I was offended, I wanted Rick to come and apologize. I refused to forgive him until he came to me! My walls were up, and I was barricaded inside of them!
I realized that when I am offended, not only do I shut everyone else out, but I shut myself in! Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the doors, how the walls come crashing down. But forgiveness is a choice, and the debt that anyone “owes” us should be obsolete.
This kind of offended attitude is devastating to the Church. It tears away at unity. It destroys love. God says “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)
This is what Jesus did:
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
He cancelled the debt that was against us. He chose not to be offended by all that we had done to Him, instead taking it all and crucifying it. He FORGAVE us. He freed Himself and freed us.
So, that’s our Monday Scripture Study.
Oh Father God, Holy Spirit, Jesus,
Your ways are so much wiser than ours. Give us Your wisdom to stop being offended, to let down our walls, to open the gates. I pray that the Church will be reconciled, that we will practice forgiveness when we are offended, that we will seek reconciliation when the time is right. You died for us while we were still sinners. Help us to forgive our brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, mother-in-laws, father-in-laws and children while they are still sinning against us. I can hardly imagine what that would look like. Father I pray that we will win over our loved ones when we have offended them, coming with peace, repentant hearts and gentleness. Grow in us Your fruits that we may look like You.
Thank You for the wisdom of Your Word.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.