By Francis Frangipane
will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will
remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezek. 36:26).
God has a new heart for us that cannot be offended -- an "unoffendable" heart. Beloved, possessing an unoffendable heart is not an option or a luxury; it is not a little thing. An offended heart is in danger of becoming a "heart of stone."
Consider: Jesus warns that as we near the end of the age a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith. Listen carefully to His warning:
"Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. . . . And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matt. 24:10-12 KJV).
"Many" will "be offended." The result? The love of "many" will grow cold. My prayer is that we will hear His words with holy fear.
The Danger of Harboring Offense
When we allow an offense to ferment in our hearts, it causes serious spiritual consequences. In the above verse Jesus named three dangerous results: betrayal, hatred and cold love. When we are offended by someone, even someone we care for, we must go to them. If we do not talk to them, we will begin to talk about them. We betray that relationship by whispering maliciously behind their back to others, exposing their weaknesses and sins. We may mask our betrayal by saying we are just looking for advice or counsel, but when we look back, we see we have spoken negatively to far too many people. Our real goal was not to get spiritual help for ourselves but to seek revenge toward the one who offended us. How is such action not a manifestation of hatred? For an offended soul, cold love, betrayal and hatred are a walk into darkness.
People don’t stumble over boulders; they stumble over stones -- relatively small things. It may be that the personality of someone in authority bothers us, and soon we are offended. Or a friend or family member fails to meet our expectations, and we take an offense into our soul. Beloved, if we will "endure to the end" (Matt. 24:13), we will have to confront the things that bother us.
When Jesus warns that we need endurance, He is saying that it is easier to begin the race than finish it. Between now and the day you die, there will be major times of offense that you will need to overcome. You might be in such a time right now. Do not minimize the danger of harboring an offense!
No one plans on falling away; no one ever says, "Today, I think I’ll try to develop a hardened heart of stone." Such things enter our souls through stealth. It is only naiveté that assumes it couldn’t happen to us. I know many people who consistently become offended about one thing or another. Instead of dealing with the offenses, praying about them and turning the issue over to God, they carry the offense in their soul until its weight disables their walk with God. You may be doing fine today, but I guarantee you, tomorrow something will happen that will inevitably disappoint or wound you; some injustice will strike you, demanding you retaliate in the flesh. Will you find more love, and hence, continue your growth toward Christlikeness? Or will you allow that offense to consume your spiritual life?
Lord, forgive me for being so easily offended and for carrying offenses. Father, my heart is foolish and weak. Grant me the unoffendable heart of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Adapted from a chapter in the In Christ's Image Training course - see www.icitc.org for more information.