Article by Lauri McNair, MS "An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate with locked bars." (Proverbs 18:19 [NLT])
"And forgive us our sin, as we forgive those who sin against us." (Matthew 6:12 [NLT])
"Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many." (Hebrews 12:15 [NLT])
The human experience is rooted in relationships; how we relate to others and how others relate to us in a fallen and depraved world. Because of the reality of our fallen nature, at some point in our lives we will be offended, or we will offend. No matter what side we find ourselves on, the offense must be addressed. If it is not, there will be a progressive deterioration internally (physically and emotionally) as well as externally (relationally). Behind an unaddressed offense, unforgiveness and bitterness are sure to follow. These contagions (offenses, unforgiveness, and bitterness) can cause physical and emotional health challenges, divide families, and destroy relationships because they infect and affect those around us, even future generations. Offenses, unforgiveness, and bitterness can inhibit our ability to move forward. We become stagnant and "stuck" because we simply cannot move beyond the offense.
Overcoming Offenses Thankfully, God has given us guidelines, parameters, and instructions on how to experience positive, healthy, and meaningful relationships. Yet, all to often, our fallen nature and depravity become our compass as we navigate through life. Personal pride, resentment, shame, anger, or rage over the offense becomes our justification for resisting to fully embrace, trust, and obey God's Word. It is a daunting, tiring, and futile task to attempt to overcome an offense in one's own strength or personal resolve. It is simply not within our human ability. We cannot talk our way out of an offense, nor can we pretend it did not happen. It is difficult, if not impossible to avoid or ignore the matter as we constantly find ourselves reliving the event. We need the power, grace, and mercy of the Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to overcome the offense, walk in forgiveness, and uproot bitterness.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ Jesus has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32 [NLT]).
Prayer for Overcoming Offenses, Unforgiveness, and Bitterness Father, I have been offended, but I am making a decision to fully embrace, trust, and obey your Word. I pray for the grace to forgive the person(s) who offended me. I give you the anger, shame, resentment, and rage that I feel. I pray that you would remove any root of bitterness in my heart. I thank you for liberty, freedom, and wholeness in Jesus' name. Amen.