Saturday, July 26, 2014

THE SIN OF GETTING OFFENDED                                                    July 26, 2014
                                                                                                              By Alice Jensen 

(The name of my best friend has been changed…and you don’t need to try to figure out who she is. What you need to do is to read the whole post and pray.)     

She knew that my daughter’s fifth birthday was coming in just a couple of weeks. After all, CeeCee was one of my best friends. Every week she and her girls went with us to a parenting class, we went to church together three times a week, and we were often at her house. So, how could she not expect that I would want her to bring her video-camera and record my daughter’s birthday? She had to know that I would want her and her girls to be there and that I would want her to record the whole party. She was the one who owned a video camera. She knew that my daughter would probably be the only child that I would ever have and that her fifth birthday would be a really big deal to me. I thought that best friends just knew to do those kinds of things for each other. How could she even suggest that she might not come? I needed her to help me with the party as well as bring her video camera. I was expecting a bunch of little kids and knew that I couldn’t handle them on my own. Sure, my husband would be there. But he wouldn’t be much help. It would be better if just did the video recording and we two moms would handle the games, the food, the children, and the presents. But no, she told me, she didn’t think that she was going to come to the party.

            We were together in the nursery at our church when she informed me that wouldn’t be coming to my daughter’s party. I looked at her dumb-founded. I started to cry and to accuse her of being selfish. She told me that I shouldn’t have put expectations on her without asking first. My anger began to boil and I had to get it under control or I knew I would not be able to put her on a guilt trip. After begging CeeCee, she finally agreed to be there with her girls and the video camera.

            For the next two weeks, I internally fumed over this whole situation. CeeCee had greatly offended me and I reasoned that I had a right to be angry because best friends just don’t do mean things to each other. Of course, I didn’t think that I had done anything offensive towards CeeCee. Nor did I believe that it was my responsibility to make things right between us or even between myself and God. I felt like I was the one who had been wronged and deserved to be angry and hurt.

            CeeCee did bring her girls and come to the birthday party, but forever after our friendship was never the same. No longer was she one of my best friends. There was a block of ice between us that never thawed. We didn’t drop in on them like we used to, our girls didn’t play together, and the parenting class was over. I thought it was all CeeCee’s fault for not being the good friend that I expected her to be. She was the one who had hurt me to the very core of my being when she said that she didn’t want to go to my daughter’s party. And I allowed that pain to turn to anger, and that anger to bitterness.       Yes, CeeCee had hurt me, but I was the one to blame for how I responded to that pain. Yes, I may have had a “right” to get angry. But did that make it right in the eyes of God? No! God says, “Be ye angry and sin not…” Ephesians 4:26. Had I sinned when I got angry? You bet I did. I allowed myself to become bitter and wasn’t willing to forgive my friend. Colossians 3:13, “Forbearing one another (to put up with their weaknesses), and forgiving one another (oh me!), if any man (or woman) have a quarrel against any (we almost had a full-blown quarrel): even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

            It wasn’t until many years later that I realized my own sin and the damage that I had caused. By that time CeeCee had moved away and we were friends no longer. To this day, I haven’t had any more contact with her. I wish that I could because I would like to be able to apologize and to ask for her forgiveness. The Lord convicted me my sin when I began to pray for Him to show me all of the sins in my life. I no longer wanted to live with bitterness and anger and pain and deep depression. God showed me Psalms 37 and told me to study it and memorize it verse by verse. Over and over the Lord convicted me of my own sinfulness and that I had absolutely no rights, but that instead, I had responsibilities. I was responsible to obey His Word and when I got to verse eight of Psalms 37, I realized my responsibility for my sin of anger. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” I don’t think that God could have made it any clearer to me. I was guilty of the sin of anger, wrath, evil thinking, wanting to get restitution, and just plain old self-centeredness. I was guilty of even thinking that I had a right to get offended. II Corinthians 6:3, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:” Not only had I gotten offended, but I wound up offending CeeCee and driving her away from our friendship.

            So, what is the truth and blessing of this story? My hope and prayer is that God uses this to speak to all of our hearts and to allow the Holy Spirit to show us if we have sinned either in getting offended at someone or of offending another person. I also hope that we will stop claiming our “rights” to feel a certain way like angry or bitter when someone does or doesn’t do what we expect them to do. And I hope that we will pray and open up ourselves honestly to the Lord so that He can show us our own sins, leave the sins of others with God, and allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins and to be honest about them. I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Oh what a better person, what a stronger church, what a shining example we can be if we would only yield ourselves fully to the One who bought us with His precious blood. The truth is: I would still be a bitter, angry, and wretched woman if I hadn’t been honest and confessed my sins one by one as the Holy Spirit convicted me of them. The blessing is: you too can be set free from the bondage of the sin of bitterness, anger, and of being easily offended (yes, I know there are many of you out there, and I pray for you often), if you too will be honest and confess your sins when the Holy Ghost convicts you of them. Will you pray this prayer with me? It is one that I had to pray for many, many weeks before I truly meant what I was saying. I hope that you will pray this prayer honestly and truly to the Lord right now, “Father God, my Lord Jesus Christ, will you please fill me with the Holy Spirit who will search my heart and know my thoughts and convict me of any sin that I have committed against you or against another? Forgive me as I confess this sin (name whatever sin it is that the Holy Spirit has brought to your mind). I claim the promise of your Holy Word that states that you have forgiven me and cleansed me of all unrighteousness. Thank you Jesus for shedding Your blood to pay for my every sin. I yield full control over (whatever that sin was) and pray that You will empower me to do Your will instead. I thank You and Praise You in the name of my Saviour Jesus Christ.” If you have prayed that prayer and need to make things right with someone else, you need to do so as soon as God allows and enables you to do so. Don’t wait until you feel like it! You may not get the chance if you do wait…just like I never got the opportunity to apologize to CeeCee.

(Next time I blog, I will write about how to make appropriate restitution.)

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