What is the shelf life of an offense?
When does an offense turn into a grudge? Are all offenses worthy of holding grudges? Who decides?
Years ago, the city paved a roundabout on the road to our house. The circle was designed to improve the flow of traffic so that each driver had options for which of the five exits they would take to their destination. On occasion, a driver would not exit but continue to drive in circles never taking the obvious way out.
Grudges are like that; people drive themselves (and others) crazy by going in circles with the grudge they are holding and blocking access to joy. Once offended, they enter the cycle of grudge holding and continue to revive and relive the offense to anyone willing to keep going around with them.
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
Being offended is a choice. Sure, people do hurtful, mean, insensitive things that can cause harm. We will never be able to shield ourselves fully from the behaviors of others. What we can do is learn to be less offended and not take everything so personally.
Let me be clear; grief is different that a grudge. A grudge can be the result of grief and even require grief to let go…and that is another article. What I’m talking about are the everyday offenses that we tend to take personally and build a case around so that others will side with us or pity us for what happened.
So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to,
Holding a grudge is a dangerous pastime. Anger, bitterness, and resentment cannot coexist with joy, peace, and patience. By staying in the cycle of offense, we are only effective in distancing our healthy friends and at the same time, creating physical and emotional damage to ourselves.
“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
Do you offend easily? Do you continue to bring the story full circle multiple times to build a case against someone? What is your personal rule about the amount of time and energy you give to an offense? Is your offense more than a week old? How much joy are you missing by not taking the exit off the circle of offense?
Whenever I am tempted to hold a grudge against an offense, I read these verses:
29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.
32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”
Jesus was not easily offended. He walked in the confidence that God the Father knew His heart and his intentions. He did not hold a grudge.
Would I dare to sit before Jesus and tell him how cruel my neighbor was being? Or how I was yelled at by my boss or cut off on the freeway? What right do I have to be offended?
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.