We live in an offended world. My sin nature, passed down spiritually from generation to generation, makes me prone to hostility, indignation, bitterness, judgment and entitlement. I can see it. It’s in my heart. And until the Holy Spirit awoke me to my predisposition to self, I was on a road destined for painful relationships and brokenness. We all are. Yet, the way of God — His intention for his royal priesthood — is that we move towards healing, wholeness, honor and authority. It is critical that we move in the opposite spirit of offense.
My personal journey
In the past year, I’ve walked through three tortuous situations where I was wronged. I had completed high quality work for business clients, who then refused to pay and threatened taking legal action against me without justified reasoning. Despite my efforts to serve and bless these clients, I was left in a financial hole with the threat of litigious lions looming above. I felt stuck, abused and unjustly attacked. I sought legal counsel and they advised me that though I was in the right, a legal battle would cost more than what it was worth, and only leave me worse off than I already was.
These were very difficult seasons for me. I was hurt and I was angry. Thoughts of these clients stir up pain in my heart, and the desire for vengeance — or at best, justice.
Where to turn when injustice has taken it’s toll?
It’s natural to feel sadness, anger and fear. But these emotions, left unbridled, reap disastrous consequences. They turn into bitterness and only add to the hostility that pervades our world today. So what do you do?
Thankfully, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, scripture and Danny Silk’s powerful teaching on Culture of Honor, I’m learning a better way. The idea is this: we are honorable towards others, not because they deserve it, but because of who we are. I choose to honor, because I am honorable.
This frees me from the entitlement towards anger and need for justice. Justice is the Lords — and yes, there will be times when we must plead His throne for justice — but then we must relinquish control of the person who has offended us. Un-forgiveness holds the other person hostage, but ultimately binds us in chains. It’s been described as “drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” While the pain is valid, the resentment only hurts us.
We have to surrender our claim to getting even. We have to let go of our desperate desire for fairness.
Then, we must move forward. Letting go is the first step, but we take ground when we move in the opposite spirit of offense.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:27-38
My wise grandmother once told me that “you don’t know that you’ve forgiven someone until you think good towards them when their name comes up.” Now that’s releasing someone from their debt!
To oppose the world is to move in the opposite spirit of offense. It’s to go the extra mile, when the first mile was unjust. A good friend and trusted brother often says, “You’re not a slave if you do it of your own free will.” Going the second mile is choosing to serve the one who intends to harm you — it frees you from being their slave, and relinquishes the control they have on your life.
For me, it looked like letting go of my desire to sue. It looked like forgiving the debt. It looked like giving them the work I had completed for free. And you know what? When I returned good for harm, it lifted the weight on my heart.
I’m not sure if I’m at the place of complete forgiveness yet, because their names still carry an air of pain and irritation — but with each memory, I bring the Kingdom of God to this offended world. I advance heaven on earth when I move in the opposite spirit of offense.