“Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!” Luke 17:1
Have you ever been offended? I know we all have because in today’s scripture Jesus said it is impossible to avoid offenses. Offense is actually the bait of the enemy to tempt all of us into the trap of unforgiveness. Most people don’t even realize they are stepping right into a trap of Satan when taking the bait of offense. When offense comes, we mostly believe we are justified to hold on to unforgiveness because we have been wronged. The initial reaction is to punish the person who did the hurtful action by not forgiving them. The problem with that is it leads you into captivity by putting a wall/prison around your heart to block any further offense from getting in. However, what that actually accomplishes is putting yourself into a vault of hurts and bitterness that get locked behind that wall with you to torment you.
So, because Jesus Himself said that you will, for sure, have opportunity to be offended, there are some things to consider ahead of time to help you not to take the bait. The first thing to consider is the impact unforgiveness has on your faith walk. Unforgiveness not only builds a wall around your heart to keep further offenses out, but that same wall becomes a barrier between you and your Heavenly Father. You become insensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit because it’s hard to hear His leading through the wall. Because you feel justified to hold on to that hurt, you have placed yourself in a prison of unforgiveness. The result is being stuck in a cage that does not allow you to move forward in the plan God has for you. This is one reason why many people get stuck in the ruts of life.
The second thing to consider is that only you have the power to release yourself from that prison. Forgiveness is an act of your will and your faith, not of your feelings. To release yourself from that prison, you must take that step of faith to begin to share your Heavenly Father’s heart, the heart He has to forgive you for all the offenses you have committed toward Him. Jesus said forgiving others is a condition that precedes you, yourself being forgiven by Him. (Matthew 6:14-15)
Lastly, Jesus said, “woe to him through whom offenses come.” He didn’t say this to give us permission to hold on to offense. He said it so that when we release (forgive) that person to Him, He will take care of them. That doesn’t always mean it will look like we thought it would. For Jesus to get the greatest victory is for that offender to turn their life over to Him and that can be accomplished through your act of forgiving.
Today I want to encourage you to check your heart for offense. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if there is anyone you may be holding a grudge toward? Ask Him to expose any roots of bitterness, resentment, and offense. If anyone comes to your thoughts, don’t dismiss or justify those feelings, but consider if there may really be something there. Then begin to pray for that person or people even if you don’t “feel” like it. Make it an act of your will to be like your Heavenly Father who has forgiven your many offenses. If you continue to pray blessing and healing over that person, eventually you will be released from that prison of unforgiveness. It may take some time, but don’t give up! Every time you think of that individual, pray for them. Thank God that He is working in their life and heart. When forgiveness takes place in your heart that is when you will release yourself from the prison of unforgiveness that you have been holding yourself in.
Today’s scripture reading: Luke 17:1-4
1 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”