We are an offended people. Individuals are offended. America is offended. The world is offended. Did you know that we are not supposed to allow ourselves to be offended?
A few years ago I was in a state of constant offense. The offenses were coming from several people that were a huge part of my life. I could not understand why they were treating me the way they were and why others were allowing it. I became angry and bitter to the point of being physically affected. It even showed up with high cortisol levels, and at each doctor visit I was told, “You need to get your stress under control, it is affecting you at the cellular level.”
Being told to get my stress under control, and actually being able to do, it were two very different things. I reached my breaking point. I was miserable and could hardly get through a day. My relationship with God had become distant due to the anger and bitterness I felt all the time. I would cry out to Him and wonder why I was not hearing answers… but God warns us in His word that we are not allowed to have anger and bitterness and gives us alternatives to that response. (Read: Ephesians 4:31-32; Hebrews 12:14-15; Matthew 6:14-15)
In Hebrews 12:15 we are told to not let a “root of bitterness” spring up because it will defile us. I had come to a place in my life that my bitterness was rooted firmly, and I was experiencing the defilement of my very soul and relationship with God.
No human came to my rescue. I had no one that could, or would, help me. One day, out of desperation, I took my Bible, a devotional I was reading, and my journal. I got in the car and drove to a nearby residential/retail and office mixed community where I could sit in my car in a park-like area and read my Bible. I could get out and walk and window shop when I needed a break. I could get a coffee.
After I had read, and highlighted, and wrote in my journal for awhile, I got out and wandered the streets… looking for and asking God for answers. I decided to go to the only bookstore in that area, a Barnes and Noble. My thoughts were that I would check out their Christian section for a book that could answer all the questions that were plaguing me. I had very little hope that they would have a resource there, but Something drove me to look anyway.
I had been browsing for only a few minutes when my eyes landed on a book titled, “The Bait of Satan Living Free From the Deadly Trap of Offense” by John Bevere.
I studied it carefully. Could this really have answers for my situation? Did God lead me to this book in my search for restoration?
I believe He did.
This is what I have learned from reading this book and applying it to my life.
- Jesus said, “…It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!” Luke 17:1(KJV). This tells me that we are all going to be offended, but there is a punishment for those that offend and that punishment doesn’t have to come from us. We will also be punished if we are the ones offending. In John Bevere’s book, I read, “Our response to an offense determines our future.” (page 4)
- John Bevere explains that in the Luke 17:1 scripture, the word for “offend” comes from the Greek word skandalon. “This word originally referred to the part of the trap to which the bait was attached. Hence the word signifies laying a trap in someone’s way. In the New Testament it often describes an entrapment used by the enemy. Offense is a tool of the devil to bring people into captivity.” (page 7) I had fallen into Satan’s trap, and even though these people meant evil against me, the Lord did not allow me to have anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness in my heart. He made it clear to me that my relationship with Him had been messed up because I had fallen for the trap.
- “Acquiring an offense keeps you from seeing your own character flaws because blame is deferred to another.” (page 55) When Satan is able to get us in a state of woe is me, look at what all these people are doing to me, it keeps us from seeing what we are doing to others. We are all the same. We are all sinning one time after another. We don’t have to sin. Jesus’ death on the cross gave us dominion over sin (see Romans 6), but if we are looking at the sins of others, it breaks our focus off our own sins and taking dominion over them. The unforgiveness that comes from having a “root of bitterness” is one of the major sins we commit. God is clear in Matthew 6:14-15 that if we forgive others, we are forgiven by Him, but if we don’t, then God will not forgive us. God’s two greatest commandments for us today are to Love Him and then Love others. John Bevere says, “A person who cannot forgive has forgotten how great a debt God has forgiven them.” (page 120)
- “You grow more from the most challenging offenses–The ones for which you have not been trained.” (p. 144) Building muscle and health requires exercise. Training yourself to not be offended requires exercise. Acts 24:16 says, “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” (KJV) It is an act of our wills and an exercise of our minds to train ourselves to not be offended by others.
I have read, “The Bait of Satan” at least three times now. I’ve had to, because this is not an easy thing to do… to number one; not be offended, and number two; to forgive when you are brutally offended. So… I bought me a no offense ring. Don’t laugh;). It is a very simple gold ring and has a tiny emerald that spins around a gold wire. When someone is doing something to me and I feel my anger rising, I reach down and touch the ring to remind myself… “exercise yourself to not be offended”. If it is getting really bad, I start spinning the emerald around on the wire and saying to myself, “No offense, no offense, I’m not allowed to have an offense.” Okay, you can laugh at that one. But, it works!
One day, when I was reading a fictional book by another one of my favorite author’s, Robin Jones Gunn, I ran across something else that helped me in my mission to not carry an offense and to demonstrate forgiveness. The book, Becoming Us, had one of my favorite fictional characters from Robin’s series, Christy, giving advice to someone struggling with unforgiveness:
“‘Don’t start beating yourself up,’ Christy said. ‘Forgiveness and freedom is a process. I’m sure you know that.’…’Todd (Christy’s fictional husband) says that forgiveness is like taking a shower. You feel all fresh and friendly right at first and want to go out and take on the world. Then a few days later, you realize you have to get cleaned up all over again, as if nothing was accomplished earlier.”
The two characters go on to discuss that with some people it’s easy, you pray, it’s done. With others, it is “an ongoing process for the life of the relationship.”(page 276 of Becoming Us)
And that is how it is… sometimes it is easy because the situation makes it easy, but then there are those other relationships that are brutal and you spend your life “exercising” to not fall into the trap of offense. In my life, I have found it possible to get out of the trap, see the trap when it is being set again, avoid the trap and keep my relationship right before God, thanks to scripture, the power of the Holy Spirit in my life and the help of books like John Bevere’s.
I would recommend this book for late teens, and adults who want to live a life free of offense.