Loving others is one of the most important and difficult commands Jesus gave us. We are a messy, broken, needy, and sinful people. We constantly deal with our own wounds and those of others. Because there is no perfect person, the foundation for loving others must be based outside of the merit or worth of others. The foundation for love must come from the God who is love. As believers we must be constantly tapped into the love and grace of our heavenly Father so that we can love others selflessly and powerfully. May you receive the love of your Father and be empowered to love others this week as we look to grow in our obedience of Jesus’ command to love people.
Taking offense allows others to dictate your emotions and thereby your quality of life. When we allow the expressions of brokenness in others to affect us, we take our minds off of the ways of heaven and place them on the ways of the world. If we are to effectively live in obedience to the second greatest commandment of loving others, we must allow God to transform us into those who live without offense.
When someone wrongs me, I instantly feel a need for justice and fairness rise within me. I feel as if I inherently have the right to be angry or even to exact revenge for the wrong they committed. Offense stirs up feelings of insecurity, pride, anger, and frustration that I will do just about anything to rid myself of. But when I look at Scripture, I see Jesus modeling the exact opposite reaction to offense.
Matthew 27 is filled with wrongs done to Jesus. As seen in his betrayal, the freeing of the murderer Barabbas, the floggings, a crown of thorns, carrying of the cross, the mocking by the soldiers and thief, and his eventual death, Jesus had more right to take offense and exact revenge than any human in all of history. But Jesus saw past all the offense to the heart of those who wronged him. He saw past the hard, aggressive, and angry exteriors to the wounded places of the soul and found within him the strength, love, and courage to pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). In the face of the worst offenses and injustices, Jesus chose to offer grace, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion.
Jesus lived his life free from offense and therefore was freed to love others. His ability to look past expressions of brokenness to the hurts beneath the surface empowered him to live with joy, passion, love, and purpose. Leviticus 19:18 says, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” If we are to fulfill the command of Scripture, we must look to Jesus as our model and live without offense. We must choose grace over revenge and compassion over worldly justice.
You have the ability to choose how you will respond to others. Your emotions and actions do not have to be dictated by the sinful acts of others. Choose to pursue love and humility over vengeance and anger. Allow the Lord to highlight and heal any wounds and insecurities that cause you to respond poorly to offense as you enter into guided prayer.
1. Meditate on Scripture’s command to live without offense. Reflect on Jesus’ response to offense and elevate him as your model for living.
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11
“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8
2. What insecurities or wounds cause you to respond to offense in ways other than those of Jesus? What’s at the core of your offense? What’s keeping you from fully loving others?
“Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.” Ecclesiastes 7:21-22
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you look past acts of brokenness to the heart of those who offend you. Ask him to heal your own brokenness and transform you into a person who loves others well.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3
Extended Reading: Matthew 27