Got a Doo-lemma?

I can remember about a year ago or so – I was off work for the day and my wife and I were catching up on our ‘to do’ list – work around the house, errands in town, etc. It was early afternoon; we climbed into our car to run some errands in town after finishing the major housework and picking up the ‘gifts’ in the yard that our two lovely doggies always leave us (they are so generous!). It wasn’t too far down the road when I began smelling something in the car that about made me gag!  ‘What in the world is that stench’, I remember asking myself. I slowly turned my head toward my wife, giving her the ‘eye’!! She looked back at me and said, “What? That wasn’t me!  I thought you did it!”  I quickly rolled my window down as I replied, “No babe, that wasn’t me… nice try!”  It was then that I happened to look down at her shoes and to my ‘horror’, I saw a very large ‘chunk’ of dog crap stuck to the bottom of her right tennis shoe… and she had obviously been walking around on it for awhile, because it was smashed and ‘squirting’ out the sides of her tennis shoe!! Way gross and way stinky!!  Instantly, almost like in stereo, we both began gasping for fresh air and laughing at the same time!  Then, reality hit me – where has she been since walking out in the yard earlier this morning – the porch, the outdoor carpet, inside the house, in our car… oh man, this could be ugly, not to mention a disgusting, smelly mess!

Looking back now, I shake my head and laugh to myself at the humor of that day, but at the same time, it also makes me think about personal offenses and how ‘stinky’ picking them up can be! A personal offense can occur when we take on or engage a real or supposed injustice (someone doing something ‘wrong’ to us or to someone else), which causes strong emotions in us such as bitterness, anger, envy, harshness, cruelty, gossip and rudeness.  Like my wife unknowingly stepping in a ‘hidden’ pile of dog crap in our yard, we can ‘unknowingly’ take on an offense, which will quickly begin to leave its ‘trail’ of anger, bitterness and rudeness wherever we go. And before we realize it, we’ve tracked it all over the place, leaving ugly ‘marks’ and stinking up the place!  We all have probably known someone who just seems to be bitter and angry all the time.  No matter what the situation, they seem to consistently speak out negativity and walk around with a ‘dark cloud’ over their head.  Over time, the result of this ‘offensive’ behavior is that no one wants to be around them and they unintentionally isolate themselves; which stirs up more feelings of rudeness, envy and harshness.  It becomes an ugly merry-go-round.  An offense can also be described as a ‘stumbling block’ or ‘trap’. Like that pile of dog crap in my yard… it just sat their, ‘hidden’ until my wife walked through the yard and unknowingly stepped in it.  It instantly, stuck to her shoe and quickly became a noticeable issue wherever she went.  However, if she had seen the ‘pile’ ahead of time, she would have recognized the ‘trap’ and avoided it.  And even if she didn’t see it initially, but immediately recognized that she had stepped in something, she would have taken care of the problem on her shoe before it began to ‘stink’ everywhere she went.

The Bible makes it clear that anger in itself is not sin.  However, it becomes sin when we choose to hold on to it.  It is then that  we get caught in the trap of the offense.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “…don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you…” The Message Bible says it this way, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry – but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry.”

So, what do we do if we find ourselves having already ‘stepped in the crap’ and we can’t get it off our shoes?  First, we have to recognize that the problem is rooted in ‘un-forgiveness’.  When someone has wronged us and we choose not to forgive them (even if we think they don’t deserve it), we are making the choice to hold onto the offense and it will never leave us; but instead continue to grow and grow in our heart like an ugly cancer!

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 5:14-15

When we choose not to forgive another’s wrong toward us, God is not able to forgive our wrong toward Him.  This opens the ‘door’ for our hearts to be overtaken and overpowered by the offense, which will produce in us (and out of us through our words and actions) – bitterness, anger, rudeness, cruelty, etc.  This is a very ugly place to be for us individually and for those in our circle of influence.  All of us at one time or another will be confronted with an opportunity to be offended. So what do we do when it comes?  First, recognize it for what it is and decide up front that you will not take on that offense (yes – that is a pile of dog crap, but I will avoid it at all cost!).  Then, immediately choose to walk in forgiveness and humility.  Offering forgiveness upfront is like seeing the dog crap in the yard and deciding to clean it up right then – getting rid of the ‘hazard’ so neither you or anyone else will step in it.  In Matthew 18, Jesus describes this situation in this way “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won’t accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

In simple terms, these are the Biblical steps for confronting someone who has ‘wronged’ you:

1.   Go to them in private.   If they confess and repent of the sin, you do not need to share it with anyone else; to do so would be gossip.

2.   If he does not repent – go to him with one or two reputable brothers (or sisters) in Christ so they can add Godly counsel to the situation.

3.   If he still does not repent – bring it before the elders of the church and let them try to reason with him.

4.   If he still does not repent – treat him like an unsaved person.  The sin he committed against you now takes a back seat to the bigger issue – the eternal destiny of his soul!  He needs to hear the message of salvation and the cross.

Notice that we are to go to the one who offended us first. Often times however, people try to deal with offenses by ‘airing’ their hurt feelings out to everyone around them, except the person they should be going too – the one who offended them. When people come to us with a story of injustice, we should always direct them to the one who hurt them and encourage them to work it out.  In actuality, by coming to us and not resolving it themselves with the person, they are doing us an injustice.  How?  Because we will take on their feelings of offense but have no right to confront their offender ourselves – they have to do it.  It leaves us “stewing” over someone else’s situation, listening to gossip and can do nothing ourselves to resolve the problem.  Not a good place to be!

Yes – offenses are like piles of ‘dog crap’ and it’s always been more healthy for the dogs, my lawn and my family to keep those never ending ‘piles’ down to a minimum. We want to strive to be people who encourage healing and restoration, not people who enable the growth of ‘stinky’ and ‘messy’ offenses.

  1. Rhonda says:

    This was awesome about offense. Their is a book out by John Bevere; The Bait of Satan, it talks about conflicts with christians and getting offended. What is helping me is I am reading ICor.13 everyday in the morning. I am trying to apply the verse love thinks the best of people. So what I attempt to do is say, maybe I am taking that action or words too personal and that person didn’t mean to hurt me and I am being a bit too sensitive.
    Good topic for pastors to preach on. We even get offended if somone doesn’t shake our hand or maybe gets our seat at church. Heaven forbid if we have to sit somewhere else.
    God bless you,

    • brian hetzer says:

      Hey Rhonda – yes great book. We went through that book as a bible study at Stone Church some years back. Isn’t it incredible how easily we can be offended with ‘small’ things and sometimes we don’t even realize that we’ve been offended!! Great job in being proactive to do things that will help you to stay ‘un-offendable’. Blessings my friend!

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