Living in a culture that teaches people to be offended by nearly everything is one of the most prominent sources of toxicity in the body of Christ. The philosophy which teaches victimhood as an identity for people to embrace is the main culprit behind the culture of offense that eats away at the health and spiritual well-being of many churches. It’s one thing to be victimized, it’s an entirely different thing to let your life be defined by it. The issue of identity is a primary theme of scripture and that’s why it’s so important to make sure we are living out of an identity that is founded in the Word of God and not the secular arena.
2 Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Many times people can develop into a victim mentality through unresolved trauma in the past. Unfortunately, a true injustice was done to us and as a result the residual hurt causes us to wear a lense that makes us see others as a threat, which leads to a lifelong experience of not being able to have stable relationships. Other times people are simply taught by those around them growing up that they have been given a bad lot in life and they need to embrace the identity of a victim in order to collect what life owes them in return. At the end of the day, whatever tempts us to embrace victimhood as a core identity is not of God and ultimately leads to destruction.
Romans 8:37 (NIV): 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Victimhood causes us to resist the need to take responsibility and move forward no matter what. Even if we were wronged, we are responsible for the way we move forward afterwards. This may seem harsh, but we alone have the choice as to how we will respond to wrongful treatment, living in a state of offense only keeps us from the healing that happens when we choose to forgive. It’s true that we may have been given difficult challenges, and the grace of God is available for that. But ultimately God wants us to heal, move forward, and embrace the power of God. It’s not always easy but through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in our lives we go from slaves to offense to “more than conquerors through Him who loved us!” God wants to move us into a “victorious mindset.”
Proverbs 19:11- “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
When we embrace victimhood as a part of our identity we begin to pick up offenses against others more frequently and deeply, even if they haven’t done anything wrong to us. We see the world as out to get us, working against us, holding us down, not meeting our expectations, and so on and so forth. Therefore every time somebody does something we don’t like, doesn’t meet our expectations, or treats us differently than we want them to, we take it personal and pick up an offense. This is not the way that God has called us to live as believers, it’s to our glory to overlook an offense.
1 Cor. 13:5- “It (love) does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek the things of its own, it is not easily provoked, it keeps no account of wrongs.”
The aim of the Christian life is not to be easily provoked or offended but rather to become more like Jesus Christ. The more we become more like Jesus Christ, the more we become more like love, because God is love. Getting offended is easy to do. But God calls us to a life of taking the narrow path that leads to life. The key to walking in the kind of love that keeps us from picking up offenses over and over is by spending time with the Lord and letting His love fill our hearts on a daily basis. We have to prioritize having heart knowledge of God over having head knowledge of God when we commune with Him in prayer. Through prioritizing our relationship with Him we are able to walk in love toward those that we are tempted to be offended by.
John 16:33 (ESV): 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Having a victorious mindset doesn’t mean we ignore the fact that injustice occurs throughout the world. What it means is that we learn to convert the negative things that come our way into a springboard that catapults us forward by the power of the Holy Spirit. The devil wants to perpetuate the trauma of injustice throughout our lives by causing the initial act of harm that was done to us to maintain power over us forever through getting us to hold onto the offense. The only way to break the power of it off our lives is to release the offense to God and move forward into a life of knowing that our identity is found in Christ alone.
2 Corinthians 5:18 (NIV): 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation
In my time as a pastor I have seen that the vast majority of situations in which people pick up an offense are usually a misunderstanding that could be resolved quickly and easily. One of the most common things I see that keeps this from happening is that one or both of the parties involved have the wrong attitude. This is why I often say “your attitude determines your altitude.” When we respond to a person who offends us with an attitude of scorn and bitterness we cut off the flow of grace to both their lives and our own. But if we have the attitude of Jesus and see them as someone dearly loved by the Father, it helps us to release the offense to God and move forward with reconciliation.
Prayer for today: Lord forgive me for any offense that I have taken up against anyone. I ask You to cleanse me of every contamination of the body and spirit, so that I can perfect holiness in the reverential fear of God. Renew my mind to think victoriously because of what you did for me on the cross. Thank you for giving me power over snakes, scorpions, and all the power of the enemy. I ask you to give me grace to take the negative things in my life and use them as a springboard to catapult me forward into Your destiny for me! In Jesus name, amen.