Taking and giving offense are always spiritual in nature. We give offense because we don't care enough to be careful. We take offense because our heart is revealed when we do. Outside of our spiritual condition, there is no such thing as justified offense. Let me explain, it's not that offense can't be taken because of a good reason, but that reason always comes out of our spiritual condition. Our heart is revealed. When we give offense we are being reckless in our relational ventures. I was.
The Bible calls offense a Spirit. What kind of spirit is it? A spirit sent from God? Or is it our flesh? The enemy does his best to divide us. Causing us to take or give offense. The word of God speaks about taking and giving offense.
Proverbs 19:11Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
Acts 24:16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.
1 Corinthians 10:32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,
Offense is tied to pride and control. Those three in operation together are a deadly trio. I know that in my case it certainly applied, and my brother may be able to identify with this. Offense is not simply intellectual, it is a power struggle that goes on in all of us. Sometimes people are stirred up by those who want to caused offense to take place. We see it all the time around us. The devil is at work. Offense becomes a Spirit.
Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
James 4:11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Proverbs 17:9 Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
Once an offense exists, we are called upon to do our level best to seek reconciliation.
Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Here's the rub. There is symmetrical activity in false reconciliation. I confess my offensive action and I am forgiven. That is how we seem to understand it. But it's more than that. The offense is a spirit. That much we know. Reconciliation is also a spirit. It is a spiritual thing. Note that the Matthew passage says that if your BROTHER has something against you.
If reconciliation is to happen it has to happen at a spiritual level. It cannot happen purely symmetrically. It must be asymmetrical in application. No tit for tat. No quid pro Quo.
I must be willing to seek to be reconciled without expectation of any forgiveness, an asymmetrical act, and the person who is being sought for reconciliation must be reconciled without any expectation of anything other than Godly unity restored.
IF reconciliation requires some kind of retribution, punishment, reparation or confession to be established it is a symmetrical reconciliation and not real. The only way true reconciliation happens is when both parties have a like spirit that broken apart in disunity are less than they would be together. The only reward in reconciliation must be the satisfaction of the restoration of a relationship. Anything more is carnal.
This is purely a spiritual activity.
What came clear to me is so much of the talk about reconciliation of racial tensions in America is symmetrical. If you do this we can then be reconciled. That is the art of the deal, not a spiritual activity. For true reconciliation in America to take place it must take place at the spiritual level. Two brothers, two sisters in Christ seeking unity for Christ's sake alone.
When I got this after that experience last week, I was actually a bit shaken. We can never have reconciliation until we value one another as Brothers and Sisters in Christs FIRST then the rest is easy. There is no other way.