How Do You Respond When Someone Has Offended You?
By Brian Ford Posted on January 14 2010
How do you respond when someone has offended you? I was hurt deeply once as I was accused falsely and faced harsh insults. To this day I have not shared with anyone other then my wife what took place. Bottom line I was offended and became angry and bitter as the offense grew based on misinformation (rumors). Let me make it clear right from the get go, the purpose of this article is NOT to point out the offense or the offenders, but rather share with you how God dealt with my heart in this matter. I want you to take special note to “God dealt with my heart” as it will come up later.
There are two types of offended people; those who have been treated unjustly or those who believe they have been treated unjustly. The second type of person believes wholeheartedly that they have been wronged, however their conclusion is based on inaccurate information and they judge by assuming or by false information. In my particular situation there was no doubt I was treated unjustly. But once we’ve been offended, unjustly or not, we hurt.
I wanted justice, not restoration. I was angry and became bitter. As a matter of fact I did everything I could to avoid seeing, talking to or even running into the person who hurt me. Basically…I wanted to erase any thought or memory and just move on. I did everything I could to convince myself and others that I was not hurt.
At times I would try to justify my anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. And I was so focused on the speck of sawdust in my brother's eye I paid no attention to the massive plank in my own eye. (Matthew 7:3) I saw myself as a victim when all along I was blind to my own sin. Bottom line I was allowing pride to cloud my true condition (“anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see.” – Rev. 3:18).
I felt the only way I would have peace would be to confront the person who hurt me. But how…I was feeling so much anger. Then…one morning while reading from Genesis I saw something in the life of Joseph that opened my eyes and I saw my true condition.
If there was anyone that had just cause to be offended it was Joseph. After sharing a dream with his brothers, out of jealously they tossed Joseph into a pit, tore apart his favorite robe that was given to him by his father, sold him into slavery and if that was not enough, later he was accused of a crime he did not commit by Potiphar’s wife. As a result he was thrown in prison only to be offended once again when one of his fellow inmates refused to mention him to Pharaoh and ask him to let Joseph out of jail (Genesis 37 – 40).
We know by reading on that Joseph was released from jail and then became ruler of Egypt. Only Pharaoh was higher than Joseph. We also know that Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt seeking food as there was a famine across the country. And we also know by reading in Genesis 45 that Joseph was reunited with his brothers. Though Joseph was offended deeply by his brothers he held nothing against them. If he had he could have thrown them in prison for life or even have them killed. I mean…his brothers were of no concern to Pharaoh and Joseph was second in command.
But Joseph instead gave them the best grains of Egypt at no charge. In the end he blessed those who cursed him and did good to those who hated him. (Matt. 5:44) Joseph forgave his brothers.
What’s even more amazing is he didn’t get angry and replay his complete past. So often when we get offended by someone we feel the need to replay in detail what happened as if the person needs to be reminded.
Look at how Joseph handled the situation once he revealed to his brothers who he was; “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.(Genesis 45:4-5) Only by the Spirit of God was Joseph able to say what he did, do so in love, and acknowledge that God was in control from the beginning and had a purpose.
If we were in Joseph’s shoes I don’t think many of us would have reacted the same way. I’m more inclined to believe (based on personal experience) we would have lashed out in anger and made it a point to discuss every little detail of the offense as a way of rubbing it in their faces.
After reading and studying the life of Joseph I was convicted, my heart was broken as I realized what I had been doing wrong. God used His Word to deal with me. I realized that restoration did not begin with the person that offended me; it began with confessing to God my anger, bitterness and unforgiving heart. God tells us in Matthew 6:14-15; “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” And in Ephesians 4:31 we’re told to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
God dealt with my heart, He forgave me. And in my heart I have forgiven the person that hurt me. I no longer have anger or bitterness over the situation or the person. Not only have I forgiven, but like Joseph I have chosen NOT to discuss it any further. I want you to see one more thing about Joseph. Not only did he speak in love and compassion, but he also showed it. Genesis 45:14-15 says; “Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.” We don’t know what they talked about, but I’d like to think they spent time getting to know one another again and they enjoyed being together.
So how do you respond when someone has offended you? Are you holding onto anger, bitterness and pride? Do you harbor an unforgiving heart toward the person? Do you want justice instead of restoration? Or are you expecting restoration to start with the person that offended you? Restoration of an offense begins within our hearts once we have allowed God to deal with us and we see our true condition. If someone has offended you and you’re holding onto anger, bitterness, pride and an unforgiving heart you will never be free and that is exactly where Satan wants you.