In this rebellion, Absalom lost his calling, his potential kingship and eventually his life. All this resulting from an offence.
Downward Steps of Offence
Perhaps the classic example of offence, which shows its full course, is seen in the life of Absalom when his sister was defiled. He wanted revenge and seemed to have “good” reasons for his vengeance. After he took the bait his entrapment developed (2 Sam. 13). At first he was deeply offended by Amnon who defiled his sister. Since his father the King did not execute judgment, Absalom became offended with the authority figure.
Many are offended at leaders because they do not take a certain action which to them seems appropriate. They perceive the leader as being political or indecisive. Absalom finds a way to kill Amnon. He flees, is allowed to come back and is eventually received by the king but kept under restriction. But he still could not deal with the offence.
When one has an offence toward a leader, even if that leader was highly regarded, the perspective changes. After the offence, only the weakness or failures of the leader are now noticed and so it was with Absalom. When in offence mode, the next step is to begin to negatively affect others. Gradually Absalom turned people against the King and “stole their hearts” (2 Sam 15:6). The next step, if offence is allowed to grow, is rebellion.
In this rebellion, Absalom lost his calling, his potential kingship and eventually his life. All this resulting from an offence. How many of God’s servants have lost their calling and usefulness due to offence?
The Dangerous State of Offence
Assuming we were actually done wrong and the other party is at fault, what shall we do? We have a choice -hold them to account, or forgive. But we need to realize that when we do not forgive, we place ourselves in a state of unforgiveness.
This can become very serious. We must be aware that in a state of unforgiveness we shut ourselves off from God’s forgiveness (Matt. 6:14; 18:35). When we are unforgiving we become unforgiven, and when we are unforgiven we cannot find the grace to forgive. Only when this cycle is broken can we regain our joy and the sense of God’s presence.
When we are offended with someone, our eyes no longer see their positive qualities and our hearing becomes filtered with our critical thoughts. This is why some persons who once spoke and thought highly of each other can now only judge and criticize each other.
Furthermore, this state of offence yields a harvest of frustration, anger, suspicion, ineffectiveness, and falling away (Matt.13:21). This is why many who have been useful and effective are no longer productive. Consider yourself -when you are offended, are you still overflowing with life and usefulness?
Offence may also lie behind much sickness -mental and physical (James 5:16). When we are offended, our nervous system, our appetite, our sleep and entire well-being is affected.
In Matt. 24 Jesus follows His word about offence with a warning that many false prophets would arise and deceive many. When we hold an offence we immediately become more subject to being deceived by a false prophet.
Suppose I have a grievance toward a brother or a church, or am offended by the action of a leader. Then someone offers a critical word about that person or church. My ability to objectively discern that word will be greatly diminished. In this state many will be easily deceived.
Some time ago a brother was given a word of correction by the elders of his church. He was offended by their word. A few weeks later in a nearby town he was praying with some believers. As they prayed for him, one of them said he felt the Lord saying that there was a wrong spirit in this brother’s church. Immediately the brother felt vindicated.
It later became clear that the “prophet” himself had a habit of resisting any correction or limitation. At that point the first brother returned to his elders, dealt with his offense, and was rescued from the potential deception of a misguided prophet.
We must be aware that when we are offended we tend to become subjectively attached to our pain and our discernment becomes clouded by the self vindication and anger in our heart. Surely this should cause an urgency in all of us to deal with offence.
Albert Zehr - Canada
Born Amish-Mennonite, taught elementary and high school, pastored, doctor of nutrition, lecturer, now world travel minstry and charismatic pastor at Church of Zion, Vancouver. writer and teacher -married 50 yrs to Janet Cender 4 child 8 grnd kids.