I urge you my dear brothers and sisters, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree to live in unity with one another, and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart. Be restored as one united body living in perfect harmony. Form a consistent choreography among yourselves, having a common perspective with shared values. 1 Corinthians 1:10
One of the things that causes division in the Lord’s church is offences. All of us have been offended many times and even deeply offended many times. Jesus said betrayals are inevitable (Luke 17:1-3) and so it’s extremely important that we flick them off early before the hurt takes root and makes us bitter and resentful. Easy to say and hard to do, but where sin abounds, grace does superabound. If we ask Him, God will super supply the grace to forgive and love again.
Two tragic cases in the Old Testament of staying offended are Absalom and Ahithophel. By their actions these men demonstrated that they were offended at King David. Consequently, both dealt treacherously against him. Absalom was King David’s third son (1 Chron 3:2). Ahithophel was a royal advisor to King David (1 Chron 27:33). In a revolt against his own father, Absalom sought the counsel of Ahithophel in how to overthrow King David. Ahithophel gave brilliant but wicked advice which would have worked to destroy King David (2 Sam 16:21) but God caused Absalom to not listen to Ahithophel (2 Sam 17:14).
Staying offended can have deadly consequences. In the end Absalom was murdered by Joab, one of his co-conspirators (2 Sam 18:14). Ahithophel hanged himself (2 Sam 17:23).
Offences don’t only wound the offended. They also wound the person with whom we are offended. It is Ahithophel to whom scholars believe King David penned these words, ’it wasn’t an enemy who taunted me. If it was my enemy, filled with pride and hatred, then I could have endured it, I would have just run away. But it was you, my intimate friend – one like a brother to me. It was you, my advisor, the friend I walked with and worked with! We once had sweet fellowship with each other. We worshipped in unity as one, celebrating together with God’s people.’ (Psalm 55:12-14)
There’s an old saying, ‘misery loves company’. When we’ve been hurt, we might talk in muted tones about the people who offended us and the things they did to offend us. Those who love us, who only hear our side, are likely to take up our offence against that person, discrediting them in their thoughts if not in speech. Ill winds of trouble and division are released. This should never be said of us who are friends of Jesus (John 15:15).
To go deeper and higher in the Lord we must watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting up within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many. (Hebrews 12:14-15)
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi reminding them of their unity within God’s household. He wrote, I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity-with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves (Phil 2:2-3). We must do the same too.
With divine help from the Holy Spirit, I have determined to live in the way of love that pleases the Lord – I’ve determined to let go of offences, and not offend others (Matt 17:27). I pray you are doing the same too!
Love and blessings