This week, I have been blogging about dealing with offense. I admit, this is a tough area for most of us. Our flesh wants to lash out when we’ve been treated poorly and our culture promotes revenge. But as Christians, there is a clear path to dealing with offense and injustice that doesn’t go along with our flesh or the culture.
Personally, I have had to deal with a situation where someone was treated unfairly. There was no apology and no indication that the offense would ever be acknowledged. And confronting the offense was not a safe thing to do. So how do you handle an injustice that you can’t address directly?
First, you acknowledge the hurt and anger you feel. I am hurt that someone willingly chose not to do the right thing because he was afraid and would not stand up for his conviction of what was right. The more I think about the situations, the angrier I become. So thinking about it over and over does not help.
Second, I must deal with the anger. I know, life isn’t fair, people do not always act the way they are supposed to, and sometimes people are scared to stand up for what is right. Intellectually, I understand why someone would do the wrong thing. My feelings have to catch up with my head.
The Bible is clear that we can be angry but not sin. Scriptural guidelines tell me to not give full vent to my anger (Proverbs 29:11), to not seek revenge (Romans 12:19), to forgive (Matthew 6:14), not to stay angry (Colossians 3:8), give the anger to God (1 Peter 5:7) and not take offense (Proverbs 12:16). Behind the anger is hurt.
Next, I choose to forgive the person and refuse to hang on to the offense. This is an act of obedience to God. As I release the person with forgiveness, I ask God to heal the hurt I feel. I meditate on 1 Peter 2:22-23—Jesus left his case in the hands of God. That is a good place to leave the offense—in the hands of God.
Finally, I need to release the person from my judgment. God sees what he did and will deal with him. I do not have to be the Holy Spirit for that person, God already is! My job is to pray for the offender and continue to allow God to touch my heart when the hurt surfaces.
The process of letting go isn’t easy when the offense impacts your life in a major way. But, asking God to help and refusing to hang on to unforgiveness will end in healing.
Is there an offense or injustice you are hanging on to that you need to release today?
Dr. Linda Mintle is the author of Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness, a pocket size book that has helped thousands with releasing anger. Check it out on her website, www.drlindahelps.com.