It doesn't take much to offend some people today. When terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in New York City, a steel cross arose from the mangled steel and concrete rubble. Workers stored the cross at a nearby church. Today there is much contention about allowing it to be brought back to Ground Zero Memorial site because it is symbolic of Christianity which could offend those who are not Christian.
Displaying a cross offends. Wishing someone a Merry Christmas offends. Using God's name in public prayer offends. Ignoring a person we pass in a hallway offends. Some folks are offended simply because you disagree with their opinions or views.
Others are offended because a friend is offended.
A grief counselor I talked with told me that the hardest thing to forgive is an offense against someone we love or care about. It's not an offense against ourselves, personally...but one against someone we care about--be that a child, a parent, a friend. We seem to be able to forgive more easily when someone offends us than when someone hurts those we love.
Peter was quick and ready to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter drew his sword and lopped off the ear of Potiphar's servant. That servant was just there doing his job--attending to his master. Jesus healed his ear, then rebuked Peter's offering of help.
People will bend over backwards and fall on swords to protect a friend or family member...or someone who thinks like they do. Recently we've seen how offended the public at large was over the death of Caylee Anthony, a toddler in Florida. Because of the morbid way little Caylee was left in a swamp, and her absence went unreported by her mother, the public took offense for the tiny child. They were outraged when the mother, Casey, was found not guilty. They wanted a pound of flesh.
The same is true with some people when they see a friend or someone they respect placed under a microscope, or criticized--fairly or unfairly. They immediately come to the "rescue" so to speak and try to explain away actions, words, and even give answers for motive and intent, even though they are not privy to those innermost feelings and thoughts. If the advocates do not correct their friend's critic, they may go so far as to begin a war of sorts to destroy the offender. This happens because we take offense for others wherein we have no business being offended.
Sometimes people have no idea how deeply they offend us with words and actions. Jesus gives us the best example on what to do with them. Forgive them. Have mercy.
This is not easy. It is harder, still, for us to watch the pain and heartache others exact on those we love. After all, the worst offense is the hardest to forgive. But oh how necessary for us if we want to live an abundant life--free of animosity, distrust, and bitterness. If we don't let the offenses go, we shackle our hearts and quench the Spirit of God within us. How quickly we can fall into a pit of self-righteousness and superiority.
LORD, give us Your strength to break the bonds of unforgiveness in our hearts. Help us see others as You see them and act according to Your Word. May all we do and say be that which brings honor and glory to You. selahV