The Poison of Offense

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There are many tragic tales in the Bible of men and women called of God who finished their journeys way short of what was planned for them. Whether it was sin or foolish decisions, the could-have-beens only tapped their potential. One of the most lamentable stories is that of King Saul, Israel’s first monarch.

The Israelites called out for a king so they could be “just like everybody else” (1 Samuel 8:5). That in itself is another message but this greatly grieved God for He wanted to rule them Himself. But He relented and the search began. Once Saul was anointed, a great celebration was to be held for his coronation. “But there were some wicked men who complained, ‘How can this man save us?’ And they despised him and refused to bring him gifts. But Saul ignored them (1 Samuel 10:27). How deflating and discouraging a moment this must have been. While he remained silent, I speculate that this moment caused an unstoppable chain reaction in his mere over 40 years as king. He was offended. It reminds me of the accusations again Jesus: “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding. Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46). Holding on to offenses are dangerous to us on so many levels.

It disrupts our emotions
I believe Saul already battled self-esteem issues. He lacked the confidence and courage that were vital to leading this complicated nation. On the verge of being appointed, they had to search for him because he had “hidden himself among the baggage” (10:22). We see him cowering again later when Israel went to war against the Philistines. While Goliath blasphemed God and mocked His people, Saul was once again hiding in his tent instead of leading the people (1 Samuel 17). Not having control, he grew delusional, wanting and needing to exalt himself.

It dethrones God
Our simplest problem as humans is our ability to obey. Just get the job done as God instructs. But no, we do what we think is best, despite wise counsel. Saul demonstrated his independence and open rebellion against God. When Israel was preparing for a battle against the Philistines, Saul grew impatient for Samuel’s return. So Saul took it upon himself to perform the burnt offerings, a task reserved only for the priests and Levites. Samuel’s rebuke was harsh stating that the “Lord has sought out a man after his own heart” and you’re not him (13:13). He took God for granted and no longer depended upon Him.

It darkens our judgment
God decreed that the Amalekites be completely wiped out because of their previous sins against Israel (1 Samuel 15). Saul, however, allowed King Agag to live, as well as their flocks. He disregarded God’s command and no longer followed His law. Later in Chapter 28, Saul sins greatly by asking the Witch of Endor to conjure up the spirit of Samuel. Major no no (Leviticus 19:31).

It disqualifies us from our calling
“What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king” (15:22). Every Christ follower has a calling to fulfill and a purpose to be accomplished. We diminish that when we don’t obey God.

It develops into bitterness and resentment
This is very problematic for the deposed king. His emotions continue to spiral out of control and makes him act irrationally. After David’s defining moment of killing Goliath, the army returns to Jerusalem as women begin to sing “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” This made Saul very angry” (18:7-8). In fact it made him jealous of the one who would replace him. His own failure and disqualification cause him to lash out at others who had nothing to do with his mistakes.

It damages our relationships
The affects of offense continue to eat away at Saul, finally with the three most important men in his life. His mentor and friend Samuel loved him, was rooting for him, and wanted him to succeed. There was quite a bit invested in the king but he disdained it because of his inner turmoil. This devastated the prophet and shook his confidence as well. “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?” (16:1). Samuel needed to quit dwelling on what had happened with Saul and get on with things. It is in our nature for us to become discouraged when others fail to obey God.

The next victim of Saul’s tirade would be the man who saved his life many times: the shepherd boy who would be king, David. “So Saul became even more afraid of him. He remained David’s enemy as long as he was king” (18:29). His jealousy and insecurity continued to grow and became the downfall of their relationship. Saul tried on several occasions to kill his armorbearer.

Finally, his own beloved son, Jonathan fell prey to him as well. Seeking vengeance, the king put out a bounty on David’s head. Jonathan and David were best friends and he began to demand an explanation for this death sentence. In his rage, Saul throws a spear in order to kill Jonathan (20:33). If we’re not careful and deal with offense, it can also harm those around us.

It destroys our lives
We saw the emotional toll it took on the king and cut short his reign. Offense destroys our emotional well being, robbing us of peace, joy, and love. Spiritually, it chokes out our relationship and intimacy with God, to the point that we don’t follow Him anymore. And in Saul’s case, it was the end not only of his rule, but of his life.

We have only one choice:  to let go and forgive those who have offended us.  Again, when we ponder the second chance that God has given us, we must in turn forgive others.  While we might hold others in bondage in our hearts, we are placing ourselves in a similar emotional and spiritual prison of torment.  In closing, I repeat the the application from yesterday’s blog.

Please apply this

  • Right now, think of at least one person who has hurt you and write their name down.
  • Immediately pray for them. Pray for God’s grace to forgive them and that God would bless them. Heap God’s blessings on that person.
  • If they’re close proximity-wise, go have a conversation with them. If they’re far, call them if at all possible. Least recommended is a letter or email but if that’s all you’ve got, do it. Definitely don’t write on their Facebook wall!! ☺
  • Set a deadline to do this. Ask someone to pray with you for accountability.
  • Repeat if necessary.  Move on to the next person if there’s more.
  • Live free!
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