Coping with Offence

April 17, 2016

We are human - we all make mistakes - get over it! Yes the first part is true - we have all made mistakes and caused others offence, but sometimes getting over them, isn't as simple as others might think.

What did Jesus have to teach us regarding this difficult subject?

Matthew 5:23-25:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary.”

Matthew 18:15-16

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses."

These passages, viewed together, form a powerful dynamic—the “Matthew 5 and 18 Dynamic”: When we have offended someone, we should go (Matt. 5:23–26); when someone has offended us, we also should go (Matt. 18:15–16). In either case, Jesus calls us to take the first step toward pursuing peace with others.

Three clear points come from these two verses:

  1. God calls us to resolve our offences actively, not assuming they will resolve themselves.
  2. We must deal with offence diligently, making concentrated, strenuous efforts to reconcile our relationships.
  3. And we must deal with it immediately, not delaying, postponing, or procrastinating.

What about the advice from the early church leaders that followed in Jesus footsteps?

“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16).“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18).“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:19).“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

Room for complacency or passivity? Clearly not. Instead, the early Apostles urge for the utmost 'relational hygiene' of living as much as we can at peace with one another.

Time Heals all Wounds - Really?

These passages also mean, contrary to popular myth, that time does not heal all wounds. Offences will not mend themselves. People do not “get over” insults and injuries. Instead, unresolved offences scab over. They go underground, surfacing later, and sometimes with greater fury, animosity, or coldness. That’s why relational reconciliation requires hard work. The above verses call us to “pursue” peace—to go after it, track it down, and hunt for it. Peacemaking is not easy or optional.

Look out for my next post on "Keys to Resolving Offence"

< Back to News