Institute in Basic Life Principles

Giving the World a "New" Approach to Life!

Does it matter how I respond to an offender?

Responding to Offenders
you can make a difference through forgiveness

When someone offends you, your response can lead to the bondage of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness. You might be surprised by the far-reaching results of your attitudes and actions!

A Proud Response Leads to Bitterness

This sequence describes a bitter response to an offense:

  • Someone offends you.
  • You react with resentment.
  • A barrier to further communication comes between you.
  • Others sense your bitterness, and your offender tells his friends about your resentment.
  • Your friends join you in resenting your offender, and his friends join him in reacting to you.
  • Barriers and bitterness infect your community as others take up the offenses.

A Humble Response Leads to Forgiveness

This sequence describes a positive response to an offense:

  • Someone offends you.
  • By God’s grace, you respond with forgiveness.
  • This response strengthens your character and offers hope and healing to your offender.
  • Your offender tells his friends about your forgiveness.
  • You have opportunities to build new friendships and share the Gospel.
  • Lasting friendships bring joy and fulfillment.

An offense is a humbling situation. In that initial moment of humility, God offers the grace to respond with forgiveness. “God . . . giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). By receiving God’s grace, you can turn away from the pride that rises up to react and take up an offense. A God-honoring response of humility and forgiveness will bring healing and health to yourself and your community.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children: and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (Ephesians 4:31–5:2).

This material is adapted from the Basic Seminar Textbook, pages 90–91.

For Further Study

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