Taking Up an Offense
Serving in ministry for 50+ years, I've seen this scenario played out time and again, and every time the enemy gets the victory over the believer. Here's the scene; someone in the church, or family, or workplace, or school is offended by the actions of words of another person. A friend, acquaintance or family member hears of or observes the incident and becomes offended on behalf of their friend, etc. Long after the two actual participants in the event have settled things and moved on, those who have taken up the offense are still fuming and stewing every time they are reminded of the event or the people involved. Why? I think I know.
When I'm offended, God immediately gives me grace to forgive and move on. I can deal directly with the offender and our relationship can be restored. However, if I take on an offense on behalf of another, I am not afforded the grace of God needed to forgive. I'm pretty much on my own to do it the hard way; by strength of will. As I begin to take steps of obedience, God does offer grace, and it gets easier as I go along. The scripture that addresses this issue is found in Hebrews 12:14-15 "Strive for peace with everyone and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble and by it many become defiled;"
So, what should I do when someone comes to me and wants to talk about "the incident"? I should offer to pray with and for them, and go with them to the other party and seek resolution (with me only as a spectator) What if the one who comes to me was not a direct participant, but is passing along "hearsay"? My response should be "I have promised God not to listen to bad reports about people lest I become offended at them and become a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution. I will pray with you for the people involved, but I don't need particulars in order to do that."
God wants unity in His body, the church. In order for there to be corporate unity, there must first be individual unity between persons involved in conflict.