April 14, 2015

How Never to Be Offended

, coordinator of the Adventist world church’s 100 Days of Prayer

I used to get offended easily.

If someone said something that I didn’t like or criticized something I did, I’d spend some serious time sulking afterward.

In fact, I would often think in frustration: “Why did he say that to me?” or “Why doesn’t she look at her own issues instead of pointing out mine?”

But as God slowly changed my heart through the study and power of consistent time in the Word, I began to welcome correction — even if it hurt my pride.

However, there are two key verses that I memorized that have made a big difference and helped me gain perspective. They still keep me focused today.

The first verse is Psalm 119:71, which says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Wow! In this passage, I see clearly that God allows afflictions and maybe even criticism from others to help me grow in character and closer to Him. I want to grow, so maybe it’s good to be afflicted like this.

The second passage that really influenced my thinking is in the same chapter, Psalm 119:165, and it says simply, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

When I first read this, I thought to myself, “Nothing! Are you serious? Nothing shall offend them?” It was hard to believe.

Now when tempted to be offended, I pray and quote Psalm 119:165 to myself. It may sound strange, but I am convinced that if I’m in tune with God and His law, I won’t be offended by what happens to me or around me.

Are You a Breach Repairer?

As God has helped me become spiritually stronger through learning to hide His Word in my heart, I’ve realized that He has also called me to stand strong on behalf of others. In other words, rather than create breaches, He has called me to be a “breach repairer,” to help build up what the enemy has torn down.

This isn’t just His calling on my life. It’s for all of us.

Isaiah makes it clear that this is our duty as God’s people. “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:12).

The problem is we often have so many holes in our own spiritual walls — like I had with getting easily offended — that we can’t stand strong as intercessors for others. As a result, God sadly wonders why there are no intercessors for the land, as He did in Ezekiel 22:30 and Isaiah 59:16.

But this is where the Word of God and prayer come together once again.

When I recognize an area in my life where I’m weak or struggling, I take that breach in my life, I cling to a promise from God’s Word, and I start to pray that promise against my area of weakness until God gives me victory.

The weakness may be as simple as being easily offended, another negative mindset, an un-Christlike attitude toward someone, a love for something worldly that will pull me away from God, an unhealthy food addiction or craving, or something more serious. We need to ask God to reveal those things to us. “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Of course, I also must choose to surrender the weakness to God and to walk in a new direction. But when I do and pray for God to change my heart, He always does. Not once has He failed to answer when I’ve claimed His promises and truly spent time wrestling on my knees pleading for Him to remove a breach in my life.

Scripture Changes Attitudes in Real Time

Of course, I’m not saying that I never get offended anymore, or that I never suffer with other weaknesses. I do because I’m human and we are in the midst of a great struggle between God and Satan.

But when I’m tempted to grumble or complain, or when trials and temptations seem to be multiplying, I just remind myself of these passages in Scripture and God gives me strength to overcome. That’s the beauty and power of prayer combined with time in the Word. It can change your mind!

That’s why the Bible tells us, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). His Word is true. It’s our secret to spiritual fortification and our weapon against the enemy today.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

Adventist Church cofounder Ellen White wrote, “We might close the door to many temptations, if we would commit to memory passages of Scripture. Let us hedge up the way to Satan’s temptations with ‘It is written’” (The Faith I Live By, p. 8).

And just in case you think your weakness is the exception to the rule and can never be overcome, check out this powerful quote, also from Ellen White: “With watchfulness and prayer [our] weakest points can be so guarded as to become [our] strongest points, and [we] can encounter temptation without being overcome” (Pastoral Ministry, p. 24).

What an amazing God we serve! So rather than being offended when you are wronged, turn to the Word. Rather than making breaches, let’s pray that God will help us be “breach repairers.” When we store God’s Word in our hearts, Satan can’t take control of our mind, and God will get the victory in our lives.

My prayer: Dear heavenly Father, Teach us how to build a strong foundation upon Your Word. Teach us how to lay up Your Word in our heart and apply it practically in day-to-day life. Teach us how to fortify our mind from the attacks of the enemy by telling him, “It is written.” Help us to stand in the gap on behalf of those who don’t yet know you and to never be offended. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Melody Mason, author of Daring to Ask for More: Divine Keys to Answered Prayer, adapted this article from devotional readings that she wrote for a daily blog that is being published during the 100 Days of Prayer, which runs March 25 to July 11. To learn more, or to join the 100 Days of Prayer, visit: 100daysofprayer.org.

Read related stories:

“Adventists to Pray 100 Days for General Conference Session”

“What Might Have Been — Can Be,” a film released especially for the 100 Days of Prayer