James 1:19 admonishes the believer to be “slow to take offense.” Notice that offense doesn’t just come on us out of nowhere. Offense is something that we have to allow to rise up in our hearts and we receive it, or take it. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” In other words, it is to a man’s great benefit to handle offense correctly and biblically.
The problem with offense is that the consequences are so severe for the believer: it stops our revelation; it stops our healing; it stops our sowing and reaping; it stops commitment; it stops teachability; it stops effective prayer; it stops our development and our fruit bearing; it stops the anointing; it stops our influence; and it stops our blessing.
We see the impact of offense clearly demonstrated in the ministry of Jesus when he returned to his hometown. The people responded with a familiar spirit (an attitude that does not honor the gift of a God in a person because the person was known before the gift began to manifest) saying, “Isn’t this the carpenter. Isn’t this Mary’s son…” (Mark 6:3). The result was that “they took offense” at him and the Bible says, “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith” (vv. 3-6). The taking of offense is directly connected to unbelief and that offense stops the flow of God’s life-changing anointing.
I’ve discovered that more and more people are becoming aware of the destructive impact of offense in their lives and are allowing the Lord to work in them to root out its influence whenever it rears its ugly head. I’ve discovered that there are varying levels and degrees of offense taking. The important thing is that we identify where we are today and keep moving forward in the Lord to the point where we can live offense free.
The first level of offense (and our ultimate goal) is “no tolerance for offense.” This mature believer has learned to walk in love, mercy and forgiveness. They understand the value of not allowing offense to take root in any area of their lives. The second level of offense is “resistant to offense.” Still growing, this person has realized the problem and they resist its presence in their lives. The third level is “yielding to offense.” This person might sense the problem and danger but ultimately (and consistently) yields to offense in the end. The fourth level is “quick to take offense.” This is the person that is easily hurt and offended over every little thing that comes down the pike. People like this are often up to their ears in offense, anger, and recrimination before they realize what’s happening. I find a lot of people in the body of Christ like this. the fifth level is “looking for offense. This individual seems to almost relish the idea of offense not understanding what they are giving up for the luxury of being mad. They scan the horizon, the workplace, the church, the living room looking for a reason to go off on someone (and they frequently do). We will always find a reason to get offended if we are looking for one. The last and almost comical level (if it were not so sad) is the “manufacturing offense” level. This person looks hard for a reason to get offended, but cannot find anything legitimate to take offense over so they do what any totally defeated person would do – they create or manufacture a reason to be offended.
1 Peter 4:8, says that “love covers over a multitude of sins.” As believers we should be manufacturers of love and mercy rather than anger and offense. You will always have many opportunities throughout the week to get offended. I recommend you not take them. I encourage you to shut down the offense factory in your life for good. When you see the great benefits of walking consistently in love and mercy you’ll be glad you did.