In 2000 the World’s first secular forgiveness course took place at a leading British university. It was designed to help people forgive their enemies and let go of their grudges. Participants had one thing in common – they were bitter, angry, offended and wanted revenge. The heading for the conference review in a leading newspaper read, ‘Holding a grudge can hold you back and even damage your health.’
Sometimes people ask us to pray for healing, and they have physical symptoms which the doctor can’t find a cause for. One of my first questions is usually “Is there someone you haven’t forgiven?” Various answers are given to the question, but some people say they keep forgiving the same person for the same offence, over and over again. They think they’ve forgiven, but they’re still trapped in the past because they’ve harboured offence and given the enemy a foothold in their lives.
Many times I’ve witnessed physical healing take place when people have been released from the snare of offence, through costly forgiveness, without the physical symptoms being prayed for.
To take offence means to feel and show resentment at another’s actions or words. It’s to hold a grudge because of something someone has said or done and to feel affronted, injured or hostile. An offended person is trapped in the past. They’re locked into the event where they’ve become offended. They’ve resorted to resentment and bitterness, instead of offering the grace of forgiveness to the person (they perceive) who’s offended them.
Through offence the devil schemes to make people captives to do his will. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, ‘I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes’ (2 Corinthians 2:10-11). A major scheme of the devil is to rob a person of their true potential to love God and be used by Him. Taking offence hardens the heart.
Not one of us can live in the world without the opportunity to be offended. Our text for today suggests that, when we live by the Word of God, we don’t commit the sin of taking offence and become hardened in heart. Rather we make it a way of life to forgive, and experience peace of heart and mind. Jesus said, ‘and blessed is he who is not offended because of me’ (Luke 7:23 KJV).
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the grace of forgiveness through the cross. Please forgive me for harbouring offence in my heart. Today I choose to let it go and be free from the snare of the enemy that is holding me in the past. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.
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