Welcome to the part two of my blog post. Earlier this month, I published part one called, “Defense”. I shared of my experience earlier in life as a High School volleyball coach, and things to consider about offense and defense in an athletic competition. I used this concept to drive a spiritual point that I feel benefits all of us. Let me remind you of a couple key points.
When we think about one team being on offense and the other being on defense during a given portion of a competition, we could think about many concepts, but the one I want us to focus on is opposing forces with the end goal of winning.
Unfortunately, if feels that we are constantly surrounded by division. We find it in politics, in the workplace, in homes and families, and even in the church. This type of opposing forces can come with a greater price than just the loss of an athletic competition. With a variety of opinions comes an opportunity for us to become offended or defensive. While a strong offensive and defensive strategy may be critical to win in sports, allowing a spirit of offense or becoming overly defensive could cause you to lose big in your natural and spiritual life.
Since these two issues can take such a toll on our love walk and our peace, I divided this topic into two parts. If you missed the first part, you can scroll down on the web site to read it at secretplacerevelation.com. Today, I want to continue the topic by looking at the offensive side.
In our humanness, we have opportunities every day to offend others or to become offended by someone’s actions or words. Many times those situations are totally unintentional and misunderstood. I can certainly say that there have been times I have been sharing a heartfelt message, only to listen back and hear that my word choices didn’t portray the message I intended to share at all.
There are times of misunderstanding because of the perceptions of the hearers and unfair expectations of others. Adding more complication, we live in a world with countless electronic communication methods, where our written and voice messages, or even lack of response to a message, can be interpreted in many ways.
While some situations that could cause offense are very innocent, we must also face the reality that many truly are cruel. I have often said that hurt people hurt people. When we are suffering physically, spiritually, or emotionally, our actions and words may become offensive.
Regardless of the intent of another person’s actions or words, we personally have a choice whether to pick up an offense or let it go. I like to think about it like picking up rocks. I grew up in the country, and as a young girl, I played outside much of the time. I remember picking up rocks for my dad to clear for mowing or even to use to build the outline of a pretend house. I would use my shirt to gather all of these rocks, stretching the fronts and staining them as I added more and more rocks to take back to my place of building.
If you pictured every offense you are currently carrying as a rock, how heavy is your load? The reality is simple; offense hurts the one receiving it much more than the one who caused it, whether intentional or not.
I believe we are to choose to try to see the best in others. I am thankful that so many have done that for me when I have unintentionally caused pain. I also believe it is important to forgive even when the offense was intentional. Let’s face it, we all make mistakes at times. This passage from the Bible makes this clear.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15 NLT
When we feel the sting of the hurt others have caused us, this passage can be challenging to follow. When the offense feels too big to forgive, just remember that Jesus is our perfect example. He was innocent, no one could find any fault in him, yet he endured such inhuman treatment when he was beaten and sent to the cross. He bore every hurt we could imagine, and he sees and understands your pain. When you are willing to let it go, he will help heal those wounds.
I am not understating the “offense” you may have endured; I am suggesting that you have a choice to make in what you do with it. You can react to it, by holding on to it and becoming bitter or you can do better by responding with love and forgiveness.
Will you lay down your rocks? Will you choose bitter or better? One of the wisest writers of Scripture said, “Love makes up for all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12b NLT). With God’s help, I prefer to throw down my rocks and choose love instead. I hope you will too!