We recently went on a vacation to our old hometown and visited our church family there. They are currently doing a bible study using the book, “The Bait of Satan”, by John Bevere. I would recommend this book to anyone and we only did the first lesson so far.
Something caught my attention in the first lesson that was so eye opening and profound. I’ve read the bible many times through and these verses have never come alive like they did to me in that moment. The first talks about someone who is offended, “An offended brother is harder to reach than a fortified city, and quarrels are like the bars of a fortress.” Proverbs 18:19 HCSB.
We’ve all seen this in ourselves or others. An offense occurs, maybe something is said or done that is wrong or we don’t like. Then we construct the walls, we build walls to “protect” ourselves from those offenses. First it’s just too keep out that person, but before we know it we are using those walls on everyone. After all that’s what a fortified city is for, right? Protection from harm. Then it’s only a select few who can enter, but even then only AFTER they have proven themselves as worthy or safe and even those don’t make it all the way in.
There’s one more thing that walls can do, they can isolate and imprison us. This is usually what happens when offenses are allowed to grow in us. Our prison walls go up more rapidly when we bring our offenses to our offended friends. We happily justify our hurts together, building brick upon morter till the walls become taller and stronger and the next thing we know we are trapped, unhappy, cynical, and judgmental. Naked, striped of joy and love. The very opposite of what Christ came to make us, which was free. Before long we become the offender, looking just like the ones we built our walls up for protection against.
Proverbs 18:1 says, “One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.” This verse perfectly sums up the outcome of offenses we can’t let go of. We pursue or own “protection” above the needs of others, at any and all cost. We even become irrational and its easy for satan to misslead us into wrong doctrine and even sin.
So what’s the remedy? How do we tear down walls? Another way to define a fortified city is to call it a stronghold, John Bevere gives a great reference to how to tear these down, he doesn’t suggest anger or stress management, instead he goes to the Word of God. “since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 HCSB
It all starts with examining not the others persons faults, but our own thoughts. If someone says something to us that might be offensive, we can simply filter it through our Jesus filter. If we get a negative thought about others who have offended us we can demolish that thought through Christ. Christ is all about us building each other up. If our thoughts don’t do this they need to be torn down and be replaced with a more positive, uplifting thought.
We also have the weapons to demolish others strongholds. I can’t count how many times I’ve been treated badly by a cashier and simply had to respond with one true, but kind word. You could physically see those walls go down. A simple smile to someone in a bad mood is often enough to turn their day around for good.
It is just as easy to become offended. I’ll use an example in my own life. On our trip we stopped at a busy gas station, we pay cash for gas most times. This means that those behind us have to wait while my husband waits in line inside to pre-pay. As you can imagine the man behind us became impatient and had to give his opinions of cash paying customers at the pump. I took offense and started ranting to anyone who would listen about impatient people, ( which is terrible since I may be close to the top of that list myself). I built a gas pump offense wall. So when a well meaning citizen behind me honked at me to alert me that my gas door was still open, I used my stronghold to judge his motives wrongly. As you might guess I was mortified with myself when a third party drove up to tell me why he was actually honking. I could feel my cheeks grow red as I had to admit that my own offenses caused me to miss sound judgment. Needless to say this was an eye opener to my need to forgive offenses quickly before they can become a prison built with my own hands.
It simply comes down to one word….Forgiveness
Freely given by Christ towards us, to be freely given away to others.